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Press Statement of the United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Mr. Aristide Nononsi (24.04.2018)

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 24, 2018 –  Press Statement of the United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Mr. Aristide Nononsi:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, I conclude my fifth visit as Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. I would like to thank all of you for attending this press briefing. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Government of the Sudan for its invitation and cooperation, the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Khartoum, the United Nations country team and UNAMID for their kind support in facilitating my visit from 14 to 23 April 2018.

During this mission, I visited Khartoum and North Darfur State where I met with a wide variety of stakeholders. In all my meetings with the Government, I have received assurances of cooperation, some commitments to take steps towards implementing the recommendations contained in my report of September 2017. In this regard, I welcome the appointment of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and Commissioners of the Sudan National Human Rights Commission, which I hope will enable the Commission to function effectively. Most importantly, I would like to reiterate my call on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the Commission is functioning in compliance with the Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions.

Some interlocutors, whom I met, acknowledge some improvement in the human rights situation in the country over these last months, while others remain anxious about the human rights environment in light of the restrictions on fundamental freedoms and rights, including the rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the general lack of accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations.

In this context, I have expressed concern to government officials in connection with the Sudanese authorities’ reaction to the January and February 2018 protests. I had received reports of human rights defenders, political activists and journalists being arrested and detained in relation to protests to denounce the 2018 budget austerity measures. I was particularly concerned about their physical and psychological condition during the time of their detention. I met with some of them after their recent release following a presidential pardon.

I welcome the decision of their release and encourage the authorities to ensure that all those still arbitrarily detained are released, and no such detentions should happen in the future. I have received assurances from the relevant Sudanese authorities that those who have been released would not be rearrested, charged or prosecuted further.

I also call on the Government to lift restrictions on freedoms of expression and association, and allow civil society actors, as well as political activists to demonstrate peacefully, and engage in public action. The National Security Service should cease using prolonged unlawful detentions to silence human rights defenders, journalists and political activists.

I am of the view that the realization of economic and social rights of Sudanese people is key to long-term stability in the Sudan. I call upon the Government to effectively implement the national poverty reduction strategy in order to address the root causes of inequalities in the country.

I have received information that security forces use violence, intimidation, and other forms of abuses to silence women across the country. These abuses are made worse by the wider context of gender inequality in the Sudanese society and the legal framework that institutionalizes it. Public morality offenses, including indecent dress, discriminate against women and are limiting their movement and role in public life. Humiliating corporal punishments of lashing violate international human rights norms. More specifically, I call on the Sudanese authorities to put an end to the “Kesha” phenomenon, a practice which appears to be an harassment targeting women in Khartoum for alleged indecent dress or street trading by public order security police.

During my meeting with the Unit on Combating Violence against Women, I was made aware of a series of initiatives undertaken to address violence against women. These include the submission to Parliament of an amendment to the Criminal Act aimed at criminalizing female genital mutilation, and the development of a 5-year national plan (2018-2023) focusing on access to justice for women in Darfur. I would like to see these initiatives transform into concrete steps to address violence against women in the Sudan.

I visited Darfur where I met with State authorities, UNAMID and civil society actors. I was informed of a significant decline in military clashes in the region. I commend the Government for having taken positive steps towards improving the security situation. I also commend efforts of State authorities to address community level conflicts and foster social cohesion by drawing diverse communities together through processes of dialogue and consultations. However, I have to note that the root causes of the conflict are still largely unaddressed. In addition, land occupation and violence targeting IDPs, including sexual violence against displaced girls and women, continue to hinder their return to their areas of origin.

I call on the Government to put in place a coordinated response to the issue of IDPs. Such a response should include an important rule of law dimension to ensure accountability for various human rights violations committed against IDPs in Darfur. Impunity for human rights violations continues to send the wrong message to victims, perpetrators, and wider public. I have received assurances from the Acting State Chief Justice and the Special Prosecutor for Darfur Crimes that steps are being taken to address the issue.

I also visited the Shallah Federal Prison in North Darfur State and had the privilege to speak to men and women detained on the basis of Emergency Laws. They have not been presented in or appeared before a court for several months. I call upon the Sudanese authorities to repeal Emergency Laws in Darfur and to review all cases of 117 men and women currently detained in the Shallah Federal Prison in relation to Emergency Laws, with the aim of ensuring compliance with due process and fair trials standards. Should it be found that these cases were not compliant, I appeal for the immediate release of these individuals.

During my interaction with the detainees, I was also made aware of the situation of 56 of them sentenced to death. This number includes a woman whose appeal for presidential pardon was recently rejected. These individuals are at risk of being executed any time. They need protection and international attention must be directed to addressing this issue as a matter of urgency. I would encourage the Government to halt the execution of these individuals, and to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

More broadly, I took the opportunity of my meetings with Sudanese authorities to recall that the Sudan should comply with its international human rights obligations. In this regard, I reiterate my call on the Government to undertake effective measures, including the reform of its current legal framework, to address the serious institutional gaps in the security and justice system in a coordinated manner in order to promote respect for the rule of law and protection of human rights.

In all my meetings with Sudanese authorities, I continued to receive requests for technical assistance to the Government in the field of human rights. Technical assistance and capacity building programmes are, however, capital-intensive and should be provided on the basis of needs assessment. I therefore encourage the Government to facilitate the deployment to the Sudan of an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ technical assessment mission in order to discuss and agree on areas for possible technical assistance.

In the meantime, I was made aware of the fact that some funding to key government bodies was made by donor States and that technical assistance provided by various United Nations agencies will continue. I would like to reiterate my call on the donor community to increase its financial and technical support to the Government and civil society in order to improve the human rights situation in the country.

I thank you.

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United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) joint Press Release on return of the first group of Sudanese returnees from Chad (17.04.2018)

This return follows the signing of a tripartite agreement in May 2017 by the governments of Sudan and Chad and United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Chad.

NORTH DARFUR, Sudan, April 17, 2018 – On 14 April 2018, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) welcomed the first convoy of 53 Sudanese refugees who have returned to Sudan after more than 14 years in exile, in eastern Chad.

Accompanied by Deputy Representative of UNHCR in Chad and Commissioner for Refugees and other senior government officials in Chad, the returnees were warmly received by the Commissioner of Tina locality, the Commissioner of Refugees and UNHCR Representative in Sudan as well as leaders of local administration and community in Tina.

Sudanese refugees fled to Chad following eruption of conflicts in Darfur in 2003 -2004.  Many refugees have indicated their interest to return to Sudan with the stabilization and improvement of general security in Darfur.

This return follows the signing of a tripartite agreement in May 2017 by the governments of Sudan and Chad and UNHCR for the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Chad.

The Sudanese returnees were assisted with a reintegration package and transportation from the reception Centre in Tina to their home villages in North Darfur.

The Commissioner of Refugees, Hamad El-Gizouli said: “this is an historic moment to receive the first group of Sudanese returnees from Chad.

I would like to emphasize the importance that the Sudanese Government attaches to the voluntary return of refugees as being the best solution for them so that they can begin to rebuild their life as Sudanese citizens.” 

The Representative of UNHCR in Sudan, Noriko Yoshida said: “It is very moving to see refugees returning to their home country after many years in exile.  I want to seize this opportunity to appeal to the international community to assist the efforts being exerted by the Sudanese government for the sustainable and durable return of the Sudanese refugees from Chad, which would equally benefit internally displaced persons and the local community through promoting peaceful co-existence among them”.

Adam El-Nour Abakar, who left to Chad some 15 years ago and returned home voluntarily said: “I’m so happy to return back to my country with my family.  I really feel comfortable and content.  I cannot thank UNHCR and the Governments of Chad and Sudan enough for facilitating our return to Sudan. I am eager to catch the agricultural season in my home area in Kebkabiya.” 

UNHCR and two Governments concerned are targeting the repatriation of 20,000 refugees from Chad during the course of 2018.  Registration will continue in Chad and refugees will be assisted should they express their intention to return to Sudan.

UNHCR and the Government of Sudan acknowledge the existence of spontaneous returnees from Chad to Sudan, and these return areas are also in need of urgent rehabilitation.

It is to be noted that some 300,000 Sudanese refugees are currently reside in eastern Chad.

Darfur: Mukjar Camp to Close as Chadian Refugees Return Home (09.04.2018)

Over 8,300 Chadian refugees were living in Sudan prior to the start of the voluntary return at the end of 2017.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 9, 2018 – After more than 10 years of hosting Chadian refugees in Central Darfur, Mukjar refugee camp in Central Darfur is set to close, as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted the last refugees to return to their home country.

On Friday 6 April 2018, over 500 Chadian refugees still living in Mukjar camp were provided with return packages and transportation to a reception center in Eastern Chad, where UNHCR and the Government of Chad will provide further assistance for reintegration. UNHCR and COR are now making the final arrangements to hand over the land and camp facilities to local authorities and the host community.

“Throughout the time I lived in this refugee camp, I had never lost hope that one day I will be able to return home,” says Eissa Abakar, a 44-yearold Chadian refugee who fled to Sudan 12 years ago after conflict broke out in his country. “I feel privileged that I can finally be able to return home with my family.”

Taken by emotions as she boards the bus to Chad, Eissa’s wife, Acha Abdala is more than happy that her six children, half of them born in Sudan, are going to see their relatives and home village in Chad. “I have never wished for anything other than returning home. I feel like my dreams have come true,” she says as she sweeps tears with a shaky hand.

Mukjar camp was established in 2006, after refugees fled to the area following surge of hostilities between the government and opposition in Chad in 2006 and 2007. Since then, with the support of UNHCR, COR and Save the Children, Sweden, refugees have accessed basic services alongside the host community and internally displaced Sudanese, and have also been provided with protection services, non-food items, and food.

Upon the request for assistance of the Chadian refugees and with conditions improved in Chad, a tri-partite agreement was signed in May 2017 by the Governments of Sudan and Chad and UNHCR to provide a legal framework for the voluntary return of Chadian refugees in Darfur. In December 2017, UNHCR began assisting refugees to return to Chad, and has since supported the voluntary repatriation of nearly 4,000 refugees from Um Shalaya and Mukjar camps.

“UNHCR extends its appreciation to the Government of Sudan and residents of Darfur for welcoming and hosting the Chadian refugees for more than a decade,” said UNHCR Representative, Noriko Yoshida. “Finding durable solutions is a cornerstone of our work, so we are very pleased to be able to work with the Governments on both sides of the border to help refugees return home in dignity and safety”.

Over 8,300 Chadian refugees were living in Sudan prior to the start of the voluntary return at the end of 2017. UNHCR continues to assist the voluntary return of the remaining refugees who wish to do so in 2018.

Richard Burden MP letter to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Dr. Kabello – “Detention without charge or trial of British National” (28.03.2018)

South Sudan: Gen. Paul Malong Awan letter to Dr. Ismail Wais – “Subject: Request to join IGAD-led High Level Revitalization Forum of ARCISS” (10.02.2018)

South Sudan: SPLM-IO – “On the Death Penalty Handed to James Gadet Dak” (12.02.2018)

South Sudan: The Opposition Group Condemns the Continous Violations of the CoHA by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (12.02.2018)

Opinion: South Sudan Arms Embargo will not work as long as President Museveni provides cover!

If you ever wondered why people like me had doubts in the new sanctions from the United States and United Nations, it is because it is flawed from the get-go. It lacks one certainty and one key component. It is only hurting the leadership around President Salva Kiir Mayardiit, but not the structures or the profitable arms-trade between friends in the region. That is obvious and the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) has collaborated and worked in the past. They have even had practice of equipment together with fatal outcomes. Therefore, the newly minted sanctions lose value, when the Ugandan counterparts plan to defy and resist the sanctions.

I want to you tell this, and whether you believe it or not, the government will never fail to acquire weapons by any means. What the foreign countries, including the United States of America, are doing is a pursuit of regime change which nobody will entertain even in America,” said a presidential aide asked what actually was the message Ugandan envoy had delivered. “Nobody will accept that a democratically elected government be changed through the force or by an imposed agreement,” he further told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity” (…) “President Museveni is indeed a friend of the people of South Sudan. He sent the special message for two purposes. One, he assured his excellency, General Salva Kiir Mayardit of the support of the people and the government of the Republic of Uganda to the people and the Republic of South Sudan. His Excellency President Museveni gave the assurance of highest support in this situation. Two, in case of sanctions, the government of Uganda would do its best to ensure all weapons and associated services destined to South Sudan are facilitated,” he said” (Sudan Tribune, 2018).

President Museveni doesn’t care about the people of Sudan, he just needs the blood money fuelling his economy, as well as the foreign exchange from both the refugees and the arms. National Resistance Movement and Museveni only need loyalist in Juba so he can extort and get funds for his agenda in Kampala. This here is done, while he is still involved in the Peace process, which he should be kicked out from. Since he will support and supply with arms.

If the United States are serious, they will cut off supplies to Museveni. Even if he get Chinese and Russian gear, he still isn’t using the deadly manufactured in USA to continue the prolonged civil war in South Sudan. That should be a wished outcome. That will hurt the bottom-line right now, but would not it morally stupid to talk of sanctions and then supply the intermediary who trades them to final destination.

Because Museveni will talk with IGAD and have his meeting with different parts of SPLM/A, but he will still make sure arms and ammunition get delivered to SPLA. That meaning, their efforts for final peace and reconciliation is bound by the defeat of the opposition militias. All of this is warlords and rebels, who all wants their fair share of power. Seemingly, Museveni is a close ally of Kiir and its benefits Museveni. He get to trade weapons and has ally in the region. While he still is friendly with US, because they need his soldiers in Somalia. So he is winning both places and nothing ever changes. Except for the families, society and lack of institutions in South Sudan. Where the conflict just becomes more and more volatile.

Therefore, if the UN and USA is serious, they would do something about Uganda. I said it before and I say it again. He will continue to provide arms to Kiir, because it benefits Museveni. Not because he cares about South Sudan. Peace.

Reference:

Sudan Tribune – ‘Museveni tells South Sudan not to worry from U.S. sanctions’ (11.02.2018) link: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64703

South Sudan: The Continued Negative Propaganda and Military Offensive by the Regime in Juba (11.02.2018)

South Sudan: TGoNU delegation position on the “Declaration of Principles” in the HLRF negotiations (10.02.2018)

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