Latest Update: 31 March 2013
The first three months of 2013 have shown no signs of progress on the human rights situation in Sudan. Internal conflicts show little sign of abating, and numerous restrictions on freedom of expression remain in place.
The Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) have yet to begin talks aimed at ending the conflict and allowing access for humanitarian purposes in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, despite calls for them to do so from the African Union, supported by the UNSC. Latest figures from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) suggest that more than one million people from both states have now been displaced or severely affected, while full access for humanitarian purposes continues to be blocked by the government. It is not possible to make a complete and accurate needs assessment in the absence of such access, but we judge that high levels of food insecurity persist in both states. We urge parties to the conflict to commit to talks without preconditions, aimed at an immediate cessation of hostilities and agreement to full and independent humanitarian access.
In Darfur, 10 years after the outbreak of conflict, there has been a recent further upsurge in violence. This is adding to the already substantial humanitarian need in an area where 1,430,000 internally displaced people in camps rely on food aid. We have pressed the Government of Sudan to meet their obligations under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur to draw this conflict to a close, as well as allowing unrestricted access for humanitarian and security groups.
Since the start of the year we have been told of cases of international Christian institutions and individuals being harassed by the Sudanese security forces, including the detention of individuals without charge and the confiscation of scriptural books and travel documents. We believe that over 150 non-Sudanese Christians have left Sudan following harassment from the security services. We have raised our concerns for the treatment of Christians jointly with other international partners.
Political expression during this period has been an area of equal concern. In the last three months the Sudanese Authorities have arrested and detained signatories to the New Dawn Charter, a political manifesto calling for change in Sudan. Those detained have included a British dual national, to whom we have requested consular access without success. We are concerned about the welfare of those detained. We, along with EU partners, continue to raise these cases with the Government of Sudan.
In this period we have also been told of a case of amputation as punishment for theft. While provided for by Sudan’s Penal Code, there has been a de facto moratorium on this punishment since 1984, with the exception of a case in 2001, and this latest application is a deeply worrying development. Claims that judges could be trained to perform the amputations should medical professionals refuse to carry them out are also of great concern to the international community. The EU formally raised our serious concerns about this incident with the Sudanese Ambassador in Brussels on 7 March.
It is welcome news that the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Professor Mashood Adebayo Baderin, visited Sudan for the second time in February 2013, and was able to visit Darfur. His statement upon completion of his visit highlights the growing number of humanitarian concerns within Sudan and underlines our call for the government to fully cooperate with him as he performs his duties in accordance with the mandate from the UN Human Rights Council.