A U.N. human rights expert has described as deplorable the Sudanese government’s continued repression of fundamental freedoms and abuse meted out to women to keep them in line. The findings were presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in a new report by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi.
Nononsi says while he welcomes positive steps taken by the Sudanese government toward reducing tensions and military operations in conflict-ridden parts of Darfur – including the collection of weapons used by various armed militia and criminals, and granting greater access by humanitarian agencies to people in need – he says he is very concerned by the large number of reports he received regarding restrictions on political rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, assembly, the press and freedom of religion.
He says Sudanese security forces reportedly use violence, intimidation and other forms of abuse to particularly silence women across the country.
“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.… In Darfur, sexual and gender-based violence remained a serious concern during the reporting period.”
Nononsi says displaced women and girls are most victimized by conflict-related sexual violence. He says a climate of impunity in the country allows these crimes to flourish.
The independent expert also criticizes government austerity measures, which he says have led to a deterioration of economic and social rights. He says it is critical for Sudan to address the root causes of poverty and inequalities to achieve long-term stability in the country.
Countering the criticism, Sudan’s minister of justice, Mohammed Ahmed Salem, said his country is making great progress in the sphere of human rights, which he said was reflected in a new constitution awaiting final approval.
He said his country has taken measures to combat weapons trafficking and noted that Sudan’s name has been withdrawn from a list of countries that recruits children in armed conflict.
Over the objections of Sudan, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert to monitor the human rights situation in that country for another year.