GENEVA, May 3, 2016 — One day before Sudan undergoes a mandatory UN review of its human rights record, a watchdog organization released a report contesting what it calls “fabrications, distortions and glaring omissions” in Sudan’s submission to the world body, and expressed concern that a majority of member states would use their speaking slots tomorrow to praise the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, rather than fulfill their duty to apply scrutiny to Sudanese laws and practices which run afoul of universal norms.
At Sudan’s previous 2011 UN review, numerous countries took the floor to praise the regime, with Syria saying Khartoum “complied with international obligations to protect basic human rights,” even as al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide.
Top Sudanese officials are expected to present their submission tomorrow before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in a process known as universal periodic review (UPR). Countries can take the floor to ask brief questions.
Mutual Praise Society
“Based on what we’ve seen before, there’s a real fear that Sudan’s political allies tomorrow will abuse the process to heap praise on the regime,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch.
“Regrettably, a majority of countries at the UN’s top human rights body typically act to undermine a system that was designed to hold countries to account, by making interventions — many of them identical and clearly based on talking points distributed in advance — that praise and cover up for the member state under review,” said Neuer.
“UN Watch’s comprehensive study of the UPR process shows that a majority of states abuse their interventions in order to block genuine scrutiny of violations. When violators like the al-Bashir regime are granted impunity, victims are let down,” said Neuer.
“We call on the U.S. and the EU to condemn any countries tomorrow that falsely praise, legitimize or encourage Sudanese policies and practices that grossly violate human rights,” said Neuer.
In 2013, UN Watch found that 82 of the 95 countries that made contributions during the UPR of Saudi Arabia did so to praise the repressive theocracy.
Distortions in Sudan’s Submission
UN Watch’s report documents Sudan’s claim that it “takes steps to protect and safeguard women, and grants them rights equal to those of men in many areas of life, without discrimination.”
In truth, Sudanese women are continually subject to persecution, violence and discrimination. The International Federation for Human Rights, along with several other NGOs, has observed that “there is no law explicitly criminalizing the practice of female genital mutilation,” and that there is no legal concept of marital rape.
Additionally, Sudan’s report claims that the government works to preserve “the pluralism and diversity which characterize cultural expression in the country.” Yet in reality, religious and ethnic minorities are systematically persecuted, and non-Muslim religious minorities forcibly subjected to Sharia law.
For a fuller analysis of Sudan’s falsification of its human rights record, see the UN Watch report here.