UPR Submission - Sudan
Submission to the 25th Session of the Universal Period Review, April 2016
Date Submitted: 21 September 2015
1. This submission focuses on the situation for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Sudan since the previous UPR cycle and thus covers developments between the years 2011 and 2015. The cases mentioned in this report are provided as examples and represent only a selection of the numerous cases that Front Line Defenders documented.
2. In the last UPR review, in May 2011, Sudan accepted three recommendations specific to the protection of human rights defenders, made by Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Norway. The recommendations urged Sudan to, respectively, “ensure effective protection of journalists and human rights defenders against intimidation, harassment, arrest and detention”, “respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly by allowing human rights defenders, political dissidents and journalists to express their views freely in line with international human rights law”, and “take concrete steps to ensure freedom of the media and investigate any intimidation and arbitrary detention of journalists and human rights defenders with a view to bringing such practices to an end”.
3. Four years on, the government has displayed no intention of working on those recommendations. Ongoing violence by government forces, pro-government militia groups and opposition armed groups forms the backdrop to the work that HRDs continue to carry out in a very challenging and insecure environment. Freedom of expression, association and assembly have been curtailed. Civil society organisations continue to be subject to restrictions by the government, including the denial or withdrawal of registration. HRDs, journalists and student activists are subjected to intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, disappearances and torture at the hands of Sudanese military and security forces, in particular the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). In addition, women's rights organisations are under intense scrutiny, struggle with laws that generally discriminate against women, and women human rights defenders also face sexual violence on account of their human rights work.
Front Line Defenders calls upon the member states of the UN Human Rights Council to urge the Sudanese authorities to prioritise the protection of human rights defenders and in doing so to:
(a) Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Sudan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, and ensure full respect for the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
(b) Review the Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act (2006) governing associations to ensure the free and independent establishment and operation of civil society organisations, including their right to receive domestic and foreign funding;
(c) Take urgent measures to put an end to the arrest, detention, prosecution, disappearances, intimidation and torture of human rights defenders, particularly by the NISS, as well as sexual violence against women human rights defenders;
(d) Review and quash the conviction of, and release, all human rights defenders who have been sentenced on grounds of their human rights work and who remain in detention;
(e) Publicly recognise the positive and legitimate role played by human rights defenders in Sudan;
(f) Fully implement the adopted UPR recommendations on human rights defenders in a transparent and participatory manner with full involvement of human rights defenders at all levels.