The Council discusses human rights in the Sudan
Thursday, 23 September 2010 10:30


The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mr Mohamed Chande Othman, presented his reports to the Human Rights Council on Friday 17 September, 2010. Mr Othman acknowledged and commended the Sudan's progress in some areas. However, he expressed concern regarding continuing human rights violations and unimplemented recommendations contained in previous reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan and the Expert Group on Darfur. During the debate that followed, a large number of States expressed reluctance or direct opposition to renewing the Independent Expert's mandate. If the Council does not agree to extend the mandate at this session, it will lapse.


The Council had originally scheduled the presentation of these reports for the 14th session in June 2010, but Mr Othman was unable to attend due to illness. As a result, the Council exceptionally extended the mandate until the 15th session.


UN Photo/Tim McKulka

Mr Othman's presentation highlighted areas of improvement in the Sudan, such as an increase in police in Darfur, enactment of legislation promoting children's rights, and human rights training for law enforcement officials. The Independent Expert also commended the April 2010 elections, occurring at all levels of the government, in which many citizens exercised their right to vote. However, Mr Othman was concerned about the frustration of opposition parties' participation as well as post-election violence.


The Independent Expert expressed concern regarding the use of the death penalty, delay in establishing a national human rights institution, continued violence and loss of life in South Sudan, and attacks on and capture of humanitarian workers in Darfur. Mr Othman also discussed general restrictions on civil and political rights, and curtailment of freedom of the press.


Additionally, the Independent Expert urged that the Sudan implement all previous recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur, pointing out that only five out of 45 have been fully implemented. Mr Othman concluded by stating that it would be premature for the Council to disengage from the situation in the Sudan.


The Independent Expert's analysis of the continuing human rights problems in the Sudan seemed to go largely unheard by the Council. The Sudan emphasised improvements to the human rights situation and its commitment to implement all recommendations. However, it stated there are too many UN human rights mechanisms in the Sudan, including the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID), reporting to treaty bodies, and the universal periodic review (UPR) in May 2011. The Sudan declared that 'too many cooks ruin the broth,' calling for the termination of the Independent Experts's mandate.


Many States confirmed the Sudan's position against a renewal, such as Syria (on behalf of the Arab Group), Pakistan (on behalf of the OIC), the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), China, Qatar, Iran and Iraq. Like the Sudan, these States pointed to the improvements made and existing UN engagement, explaining that the Independent Expert would only duplicate those efforts.


Other States strongly supported the renewal of the mandate, echoing the Independent Expert's concerns about current and future human rights challenges. These States included the US, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Israel, and members of the EU. Many of the States supporting the renewal of the mandate pointed to the upcoming independence referendum for Southern Sudan as a critical juncture, requiring the presence of the Independent Expert. In addition, NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, expressed great concern over what they described as a deteriorating human rights situation, urging that the Council renew the mandate.


After the Council downgraded the Sudan mandate from a Special Rapporteur to an Independent Expert in 2009, it is possible that the Council may not renew the mandate at this session. Nigeria is proposing a draft resolution that commends the Sudan for its cooperation with UN mechanisms and calls on the international community to provide technical assistance to the government. A number of States including the EU, US, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina and Norway are calling for the resolution to be amended to extend the Independent Expert's mandate but it seems that many States are opposed to this.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 September 2010 10:19
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