HRC39: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan

UN Human Rights Council – 39th regular session
Item 10: Interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan

Oral statement delivered by Nicolas Agostini

Mr. President, Mr. Independent Expert,

DefendDefenders thanks you for your report. We are struck by your assessment, contained in para­g­raph 73, that in spite of assurances from the Sudanese authorities to take steps to­w­ards implementing the recommendations contained in your previous reports, – I quote – “a significant number of these recommendations have still not been implemented.”

Throughout the years, Sudan has failed to cooperate in good faith with your mandate and with other human rights mechanisms. The government has:

  • Denied experts access to certain areas, in particular conflict areas, and prevented them from meeting with independent actors free from surveillance;
  • Attempted to monitor meetings between experts and civil society;
  • Attacked you and your predecessors whenever you raised patterns of human rights violations (with claims that the mandate had been “overstepped”);
  • Denied the fact that monitoring and public reporting are the basis of technical assis­tance – there can be no advice without knowledge;
  • Prevented meaningful, inclusive and transparent discussion of resolutions; and
  • Engaged in intimidation and reprisals against representatives of civil society, inclu­ding human rights defenders who attempted to travel to Geneva to attend the “UPR pre-sessions” in 2016 – despite the fact that Sudan officially praises the UPR.

In a nutshell, what Sudan needs is not more technical assistance, but political will to im­pro­ve the situation.

Item 10 is often the object of misperceptions.
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NGOs like DefendDefenders do believe that it is a useful tool and that it should be used with states that truly need advice and capacity-building. But item 10 should not be abused.
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Govern­ments that demonstrate a pattern of bad faith should not be allowed to abuse the Council’s time and resources.
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Thank you for your attention.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Esther Tawiah

In Ghana, Esther Tawiah is one of the loudest voices for women empowerment and gender. It is also why she is one of the most loathed. Born and raised in New-Tafo in the country’s eastern region, Esther grew up surrounded by a culture that frowned at the idea of women participating in public affairs, and witnessed firsthand, the backlash those who dared to challenge that cultural norm faced.

“I grew up in a society where ageism and sexism were so entrenched. As a young person, you weren’t supposed to give your opinion on public issues, especially if you were a woman. Women who dared to speak up were caricatured and branded as frustrated, unmarriageable prostitutes, all designed to shut them up,” she says.