Human Rights Council: 33rd Session
Oral Statement by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
28th September 2016
Delivered by Manon Karatas
Thank you Mr. President,
Our organisations, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and ACJPS, would like to express concern regarding the crackdown by the Government of Sudan on independent civil society, and the severe circumscription of the right to freedom of expression.
The National Intelligence and Security Services continue to detain individuals for up to four and a half months without charge. ACJPS has documented patterns of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, as well as summonses and threatening phone calls. 10 staff members and affiliates of TRACKs for Training and Development currently face baseless charges, including capital crimes against the state, solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights. Their offices were raided twice over the past 18 months and three of them were held for 86 days without charge in inhumane conditions until their transfer to prison.
A number of Sudanese laws restrict the right to peaceful expression, association and assembly. The NISS continues to censor the media, and have ordered newspapers not to report on so-called “red line” issues critical of the Government.
Authorities continue to break up demonstrations using excessive force. There has been no accountability for the victims of protests that took place in 2013, when Sudanese security forces fired live ammunition to disperse protestors, causing the deaths of at least 185 individuals. In February 2016, a group of 15 women were arrested and beaten with batons during a protest demanding accountability for those deaths.
The conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur continue to have a devastating impact on civilians.
We welcome the report of the Independent Expert on Sudan, and would like to emphasise the importance of engaging with independent civil society, both inside and outside the country. However, we continue to call for an Item 4 mandate given the gross and systematic violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, lack of access for independent monitoring or reporting bodies, and clamp-down in independent civil society.