Report on Sudan’s Submission
to UN Human Rights Review
May 3, 2016
This report by UN Watch analyzes Sudan’s submission to the UN about its human rights record ahead of its appearance on May 4, 2016, before the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, a quadrennial requirement for all UN member states.
Although the regime has been widely condemned for systematic human rights violations, and its leader Omar al-Bashir indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, Sudan’s national report — one of three submissions forming the basis for the review — seeks to deny this reality.
This report critically examines Sudan’s submission, and sets forth: (a) myths and facts in Sudan’s submission, contrasting Khartoum’s claims with credible data in submissions made by human rights NGOs; and (b) several of the glaring omissions in Sudan’s report.
UN Watch calls on all member states participating in Sudan’s UN review to apply genuine scrutiny and not praise, as is too often the case in such sessions.
A. Myths and Facts in Sudan’s Submission to UNHRC Review
MYTH: Sudan’s report claims that “The State takes steps to protect and safeguard women, and grants them rights equal to those of men in many areas of life, without discrimination, particularly as regards civil, political and cultural freedoms and rights, the right to education, health care, property and freedom of expression, and the right to form public interest groups. These rights are put into effect on the ground by various State institutions.” (Paragraph 45, National Report)
FACT: Sudanese women are continually subject to persecution, violence and discrimination. As noted by the International Federation for Human Rights, along with several other NGOs, “there is no law explicitly criminalizing the practice of female genital mutilation and recommended Sudan to criminalize violence against women and marital rape and prosecute those responsible” (Paragraph 12, NGO Report).
Additionally, “Sudanese law recognizes stoning, amputation, cross-amputation and lashing. Lashing penalties are routinely implemented.” Human Rights Watch observed that “Sharia law sanctions continued in violation of international prohibitions on cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and are applied disproportionately to women and girls.” (Paragraph 34, NGO Report.)
MYTH: Sudan’s report claims that it launched a project “to identify, preserve and administer cultural heritage in order to promote sustainable economic and social development and to stimulate national diversity in all sectors of society. The relevance of the project lies in the immensity of the Sudan’s cultural legacy and the pluralism and diversity which characterize cultural expression in the country, including languages, customs, beliefs, visual arts, literature, etc.” (Paragraph 42, National Report)
FACT: In reality, religious and ethnic minorities are systematically persecuted in Sudan – particularly non-Muslim religious minorities who are forcibly subjected to Sharia law.
Human Rights Watch reported “cases of extra-judicial killings of suspected SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] supporters, ethnic Nubians and Christians, including women and children by the SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] and allied militias.” (Paragraph 12, NGO Report).
The African Development Foundation and the Sudanese Human Rights Initiative urged “Sudan inter alia, to end the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, abolish the crimes of apostasy and blasphemy, and allow the issuance of building permits for churches.” (Paragraph 51, NGO Report)
Amnesty International noted “widespread suppression of non-Muslim and Muslim minority groups.” (Paragraph 66, NGO Report.)
MYTH: Sudan claims it is “always willing to cooperate with the international community” (Paragraph 83, National Report)
FACT: The Sudanese government has routinely refused to cooperate with the international community. Sudan is currently refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court regarding its arrest warrant for President al-Bashir. According to the 2015 Human Rights Watch Report on Sudan, “the ICC has issued arrest warrants for five individuals, including President al-Bashir, for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in connection with atrocities in Darfur. Sudan has refused to cooperate with the court in any of the cases.”
The UN Human Rights Committee recommended that Sudan “accelerate investigations and prosecutions regarding serious human rights violations committed in Darfur since February 2003, and increase cooperation with international mechanisms of accountability, including the International Criminal Court.” (Paragraph 41, UN Report)
Sudan has constantly refused the visit of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. (Paragraph 22, NGO Report)
Furthermore, Sudan’s reluctance to cooperate with international bodies has exacerbated the human rights situation. Human Rights Watch, along with several other organizations, noted that “Sudan’s failure to implement previous recommendations related to Darfur and the peace agreement resulted in the deterioration of the situation since 2014.” (Paragraph 27, NGO Stakeholder Report)
A. Glaring Omissions in Sudan’s Submission to UNHRC Review
In addition to misrepresentations listed above, Sudan’s report on its human rights record also contains glaring omissions that distort the truth:
- The subject of Darfur was broached with the perfunctory remark that “efforts to build lasting peace in Darfur are continuing on the part of the national Government.” (Paragraph 91, National Report.) What Sudan neglected to mention was that the human rights situation in Darfur remains extremely serious. The UN report noted that “the Security Council and the Independent Expert reported that Darfur and the States of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile continued to experience sporadic armed conflicts and banditry with a negative impact on civilians… The Independent Expert was particularly concerned about the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence throughout Darfur… The Human Rights Council condemned the violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law reported in the States of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile by all parties, including sexual- and gender-based violence, and the bombings of humanitarian facilities.”
- Sudan’s report is evasive on the issue of restricted access for humanitarian organizations and other bodies. Sudan has repeatedly restricted access to conflict areas including the village of Thabit, where 200 women were raped by Sudanese forces in the span of 36 hours in late 2014.The report addressed this issue only in passing: “out of concern for the welfare of the members of the mission the Government has, on a very limited number of occasions and for genuine security reasons, advised them not to travel to certain specific regions of Darfur. However, UNAMID [United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur] is not obliged to abide by the Government’s advice and has lodged complaints about restrictions on its movement.” (Paragraph 93, National Report)However UNAMID itself, as well as various human rights group, were unequivocal in their assertion that Sudan was actively restricting access to human rights hot spots.In a recent meeting with NGOs on April 7, the head of UNAMID Martin Uhomoibhi lamented the difficulty of attaining visas and cited the ‘access issue’ as the biggest obstacle facing their work. As HRW noted in their 2015 report on Sudan, “UNAMID has been largely ineffective in protecting civilians from violence, hampered by Sudan’s denial of access to areas affected by conflict. Jebel Marra, for example, where tens of thousands are still displaced, has not been accessed for several years.”