25 September 2013
The Human Rights Council this morning held interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, and the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan.
In the discussion on Cambodia, speakers noted the remarkable progress made since the Paris peace agreement two decades ago. Most agreed that Cambodia had taken its first steps to democracy. However, recent violent clashes that took place between police and protestors in Phnom Penh were a cause for concern by some delegations. The Government was urged to protect freedom of expression, a free media and to undertake electoral reform.
In concluding remarks, Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, said that most of his recommendations had not been implemented, and many were long overdue, although he expressed encouragement over progress made. The Government should stick to an agreed time frame to implement the necessary measures. Over the last four years, his work had focused on the assessment of institutions, and had identified a need for training of officials working for national institutions, especially in the judiciary, Parliament, election commissions and other ministries. The international community should help Cambodia in that regard.
Speaking in the interactive discussion were the United States, European Union, Indonesia, France, Ireland, China, Thailand, United Kingdom, Morocco, Viet Nam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, New Zealand, Slovakia, Switzerland, Malaysia and Myanmar.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development; Human Rights Watch; International Federation of Human Rights Leagues; Human Rights Now; Amnesty International; Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany; and World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace.
The presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur, the response of Cambodia as the concerned country and the beginning of the debate on Cambodia took place on 24 September and is available here.
Shamsul Bari, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, said Somalia had made important strides to move forward from a situation of hopelessness toward a semblance of normalcy. The installation of a new Government had brought an end to transitional governance, but Somalia had a long way to go as attacks still took place. While the international community had to help the Government entrench human rights, the Government needed the support of the people. A post-transitional human rights road map was due to be adopted. The Government was urged to demonstrate that it was earnest about the implementation of the road map. A deep-rooted culture of impunity and the belief that the powerful were protected had to be tackled head on by the Government if its commitment to human rights was shown to be sincere.
Speaking as the concerned country, Somalia said it was fully committed to implementing the recently adopted post-transition road map for Somalia, which was an important milestone. Somalia was looking forward to cooperating with civil society in order to put forward this important agenda.
In the following discussion on the human rights situation in Somalia, speakers noted with satisfaction that Somalia had adopted the human rights road map proposed to it by the Independent Expert. Many speakers said that Somalia had made important progress and the establishment of a new Government provided an opportunity to further promote and protect human rights in the country. Speakers welcomed the strengthening of institutions such as the police and the judiciary. However, speakers said that the human rights situation remained perilous, with civilians, women and children subject to appalling human rights violations. Some speakers connected the terror attack in Nairobi with the need of the Government of Somalia to strengthen internal security in the country.
Speaking in the discussion were Italy, Morocco, Djibouti, European Union, Spain, Chad, Ethiopia, Romania, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Ireland, United States, Nigeria, Sudan and Luxembourg.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project; International Educational Development Inc.; and Amnesty International.
Mashood Baderin, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan, introducing his report, noted that a visit to South Kordofan could not be carried out as initially intended due to the security situation in the region during the visit. The Government continued to take steps to adopt relevant policies towards improving the human rights situation in the country. However, the effective implementation and practical realization of those policies on the ground remained generally slow. The Government was urged to establish a high-level panel to oversee the implementation of the national action plan for the protection of human rights, and to publish annual reports of the tangible results achieved under the plan for an evaluation of the progress made.
Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said the report had highlighted the cooperation of the Government and reiterated that the decision not to visit certain regions had been taken by the Expert himself. During the visits carried out as part of the mandate, the Expert had been able to meet with officials and bodies working in the field of human rights, as well as civil society representatives. Over the last 10 years, Sudan had been undertaking an important process to create human rights mechanisms, which had been highlighted in the report, among others, the judiciary, the constitutional court, and the ombudsman.
In the following discussion, speakers highlighted the cooperation displayed by the Government in Sudan during the visit of the Independent Expert and commended Sudan for the creation of a number of human rights mechanisms. Some speakers expressed concerns about restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and assembly, reports of arbitrary arrests, and the ongoing aerial bombardment of civilian areas in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Darfur, as well as the continued restrictions on humanitarian access to Sudanese citizens in need and reports that security agents had infringed upon civil and political rights. Some delegations noted efforts made in the implementation of recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review and called on the international community to continue to provide support, in particular through technical cooperation and capacity building efforts.
Speaking in the debate were the European Union, Palestine on behalf of the Arab Group, South Sudan, Ireland, Lebanon, Australia, Qatar, United States, Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Sri Lana, Maldives, Ethiopia, France, Canada, Uganda, Pakistan, Libya, Mexico, Bangladesh, Morocco, United Kingdom, Norway, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Switzerland, Thailand, China, and Gabon on behalf of the African Group. The United Nations Children's Fund also participated in the dialogue.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project; Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development; Human Rights Watch; International Federation for Human Rights Leagues; Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Amnesty International; and Society Studies Centre (MADA ssc).
The Human Rights Council is holding a full day of meetings today. At 2.30pm it will hold an interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic.
The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia (A/HRC/24/36).
The Council has before it a note verbale dated 12 September 2013 from the Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/24/G/10).
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia
The interactive dialogue with Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, started yesterday afternoon and a summary of his presentation and the response of Cambodia can be found here.
United States acknowledged that Cambodia had made significant progress since the adoption of the Paris Peace Agreements. However it shared concerns regarding the treatment and criticism the Special Rapporteur received from the Government during his December 2012 mission. The Government should enhance the ability of all represented parties to contribute constructively to National Assembly processes. Forced evictions and land appropriations were a further concern.
European Union said that while there had been some encouraging developments, progress in a number of other areas remained unnecessarily slow. Particular concern was expressed over recent violent clashes between police and protestors in Phnom Penh, as well as freedom of expression restrictions, access to the media for all political parties during the pre-election period, reports of intimidation of voters, and a general lack of transparency in the electoral process.
Indonesia commended Cambodia’s reaffirmation of its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and congratulated Cambodia for the National Assembly election which, in accordance to international observers, was considered free, fair and genuine. Different opinions in reacting to its result should be settled through amicable means and rule of law. Indonesia would support Cambodia in its endeavours to build a strong democracy based on rule of law and respect for human rights.
France expressed concerns about the election and the violence that followed it. Dialogue was needed to ensure that all political actors worked together. The current reform of the judicial system was very important, and it was essential to promulgate as quickly as possible the three fundamental laws on the independence of the judiciary. France was also concerned about the situation of human rights defenders and the legal framework of forced evictions.
Ireland encouraged Cambodia to continue its cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and to give serious consideration to the recommendations he had made over the past four years. Ireland noted that the implementation of judicial, parliamentary, electoral and land and economic reforms had been slow, in particular in relation to the reform of national institutions. The Government should consider committing to a clear time frame for the implementation of reforms. The intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders should never be tolerated.
China noted the report submitted by Mr. Subedi and commended the Cambodian Government’s active cooperation with the Special Rapporteur. Cambodia had achieved great results in economic development and respect for human rights in recent years. Laws and regulations had been adopted to promote human rights and to implement the Universal Periodic Review recommendations accepted by the Government. All States had the right to choose their own political system, according to their national conditions and the will of their people.
Thailand said that, as a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand followed closely the situation in Cambodia and welcomed its engagement with the Human Rights Council. Thailand appreciated the importance that the Government of Cambodia attached to democratic elections but took note of the Special Rapporteur’s concerns about the electoral process. The Human Rights Declaration adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Phnom Penh last year was an important bilateral and regional step.
United Kingdom was encouraged by some improvements in Cambodia but said more progress was needed. The United Kingdom stood ready to help in areas such as land reform. Concerns were expressed about disputes over alleged irregularities in the recent elections; the United Kingdom urged that they be resolved peacefully with full respect for the freedoms of assembly and expression. The formation of a National Assembly was an opportunity to further reform the judiciary and the media.
Morocco said that Cambodia continued its democratisation process, which was remarkable just 20 years after the Paris agreement. Morocco had faith in the disputing parties following the recent election to resolve their differences. Morocco shared the hopeful analysis of the Special Rapporteur, and asked what his assessment was of his four years tenure, and about the challenges that lay ahead.
Viet Nam said that Cambodia had recovered and made enormous progress over the last 20 years. Concrete steps in implementing the Millennium Development Goals, resolving land dispute issues, and strengthening the rule of law as seen by the approbation of the law criminalizing the denial of crimes by the Khmer Rouge, should all be encouraged. Viet Nam called upon the regional and international community to continue to provide assistance for Cambodia.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic noted the significant efforts of the Cambodian Government concerning economic growth, greater protection of human rights and stronger democracy. The Universal Periodic Review mechanism was the only appropriate forum to discuss or review a situation of human rights in any country on an equal basis. Cambodia, the international community and the Special Rapporteur were encouraged to continue cooperation and constructive dialogue aimed at overcoming remaining challenges.
New Zealand was deeply concerned by recent reports of violence resulting from the ratification of the Cambodian national election results and encouraged Cambodia to move further towards a fair and transparent democratic process by implementing the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur, to better protect and encourage freedom of expression, address concerns around the use of State resources for political campaigning and to enhance the independence and capacity of the National Election Committee.
Slovakia took note of important steps taken in the framework of the judicial reform and encouraged Cambodia to further strengthen the independence of the judiciary. Human rights defenders involved in protecting land rights should not face harassment and intimidation. Open and genuine dialogue between the Government and civil society was essential to move forward the country in many areas, including in the field of the promotion and protection of human rights.
Switzerland supported all recommendations addressed by the Special Rapporteur to the Cambodian Government. Switzerland welcomed the royal pardon granted to the opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, and encouraged Cambodia to continue the necessary reforms and to double its efforts to ensure the independence and transparency of the judiciary. All political parties should be able to participate. Cambodia should continue the constructive consultations with the Special Rapporteur.
Malaysia said that Cambodia’s continued engagement with the United Nations human rights mechanisms reflected Cambodia’s firm commitment towards further promoting and protecting the human rights of its citizens. Malaysia congratulated the Cambodian people for having successfully exercised their democratic rights by participating in the peaceful national election held in July 2013. Malaysia cooperated closely with Cambodia in combating human trafficking.
Myanmar said it was encouraged to see Cambodia’s continued engagement with international human rights mechanisms, particularly the Special Rapporteur. Myanmar welcomed the various measures taken up by Cambodia to promote the fundamental rights of its citizens, and noted that the country was doing well economically and was on its way to achieving some of its Millennium Development Goals. Myanmar wished Cambodia great progress and success in its political, economic and social transformation.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development echoed the call of the Special Rapporteur for the right to freedom of expression to be respected before, during and after elections in Cambodia. The media remained heavily biased towards the ruling party of Cambodia. The indiscriminate use of force against protestors and human rights defenders was disturbing.
Human Rights Watch said that Cambodia was in the midst of yet another ruling-party created crisis. The election had not been free and fair, and protests against it resulted in the unnecessary use of force. Meanwhile the authorities colluded in the abuse of human rights throughout Cambodia, such as those resulting from land grabs and suppression of dissent.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues was deeply concerned about ongoing serious and systematic violations of land and housing rights, the intimidation and harassment of Cambodian human rights defenders and the stifling of independent voices in the country through restrictions to the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
Amnesty International was concerned by the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders in Cambodia and the role of the justice system in restricting their work. The courts continued to allow impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses. There had been little progress in managing the land crisis. The Special Rapporteur was recommended to prioritize the issue of judicial reform.
Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany said that the human rights situation in Cambodia was deteriorating and it was increasingly alarmed by the treatment of human rights defenders. Since the beginning of 2013, there had been at least six incidents of violence against striking workers by police, private security firms and employers, resulting in 41 injuries. Those who perpetrated violent actions against human rights defenders should face justice.
World Association for the School as an Instrument of Peace said that the majority of the Cambodian people had expressed their desire for change and to get rid of the authoritarian Government. An already flawed electoral system was compounded by a rigged election and manipulation of results. Those frauds had angered the people, which resulted in major protests demanding justice. The Council should take appropriate measures to put an end to human rights violations in Cambodia.
SURYA PRASAD SUBEDI, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, thanked the Ambassador of Cambodia for his constructive and helpful statement and said he appreciated calls for a continued dialogue with the Cambodian Government. He noted concerns expressed by many delegations about the judiciary and said he had paid special attention to that issue, noting that a series of judicial reforms had already been implemented. During his last visit the Government had given assurances that the three draft laws on judicial independence would be enacted during the next Parliamentary session. The Special Rapporteur said most of his recommendations had not been implemented, and many were long overdue, although he expressed encouragement over progress made. The Government should stick to an agreed time frame to implement the necessary measures. With regard to reform of other State institutions, Mr. Subedi noted that his mandate was based on the Paris Peace Agreements and the successive resolutions of the Council.
Over the last four years the Special Rapporteur said his work had focused on the assessment of institutions, and had identified a need for training of officials working for national institutions, especially in the judiciary, Parliament, election commissions and other ministries. The international community should help Cambodia in that regard. The Special Rapporteur expressed concern over the lack of dialogue between the Government and civil society, saying that Cambodia’s civil society was a vibrant one and true dialogue would benefit all stakeholders. The law on the protection of human rights defenders, especially those working on issues related to land rights, had to be implemented. The situation would be greatly improved if human rights defenders’ right to freedom of expression was respected.
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia (A/HRC/24/40); and a corrigendum to the report of the Independent Expert (A/HRC/24/40/Corr.1).
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Somalia
Presentation of the Report
SHAMSUL BARI, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, said that since 2008 and after 11 visits, Somalia had become a new home to him and he was saddened by the misfortunes that befell its people and was heartened by progress that was made toward improvement. Somalia had made important strides to move forward from the situation of utter hopelessness toward a semblance of normalcy and hope. The installation of a new Government last year brought to an end a long spell of transitional governance. But Somalia was not out of the woods yet: deadly attacks still took place in its south-central region, including in Mogadishu. It was important though to keep faith in the future.
Hope rested squarely with the Federal Government which must be determined in its will to tackle human rights challenges, all the more onerous because the deprivations in Somalia in the last two decades had been among the worst witnessed anywhere in history. While the international community had to help the Government in this regard, shown most recently with the New Deal Compact settled in Brussels two weeks ago, the Government needed the support and cooperation of the people. Mr. Bari said he had proposed to the new Government a post-transitional human rights road map, which it had taken up. The adoption of the road map was almost complete. It was based on key human rights themes and set time-specific and measurable goals. The Government was urged to demonstrate that it was earnest about the implementation of the road map. A recent child rape case in Mogadishu, in which the accused was a powerful member of society, resulted in vacillation on the part of the authorities: the Government needed to show a no-tolerance policy to human rights abuses. The deep-rooted culture of impunity and the belief that the powerful were protected had to be tackled head on by the Government.
Statement by Somalia, the Concerned Country
Somalia, speaking as the concerned country, expressed thanks for the comprehension, support and constructive contributions by all at the high-level stand-alone dialogue that took place yesterday. The Independent Expert was also thanked for his commitment. Somalia was fully committed to implementing the recently adopted post transition roadmap for Somalia, which was an important milestone, and it was looking forward to having a complimentary cooperation with its vibrant civil society in order to put forward this important agenda.
Italy thanked the Independent Expert for yet another comprehensive presentation on the human rights situation in Somalia and asked him whether specific areas, like criminal justice, civil justice, and courts’ structure of function, where action was more urgently needed by the Federal authorities, could be highlighted. What specific assistance from the Independent Expert, as well as donor countries, might and ought to be provided to the Somali Government?
Morocco said that Somalia was now at a crossroads. The situation, despite progress, remained worrying. Although the country aspired to return to normality it was important for support from the international community to be shown in a sustained way. The Somali authorities had made important commitments which required the international community’s full support. How could the international community support the authorities to fulfil these commitments?
Djibouti congratulated the Independent Expert for the quality of his report on the human rights situation in Somalia. The cooperation with the Government to establish a post-transition roadmap was commendable. Djibouti welcomed the participatory approach adopted and the involvement of all stakeholders in the drafting of the roadmap. The Government should establish protection systems to protect the civilian population from abuses.
European Union said that for the first time in 20 years, there was hope that a better future for Somalia was achievable. The endorsements of the Somali Compact and of the Post-Transition Human Rights Road Map were important steps to establish credible, legitimate and accountable institutions. Civilians continued to suffer from violence by all parties to the conflict. The humanitarian crisis in Somalia was concerning and the European Union underlined the importance of allowing the full, safe, timely and unimpeded access of all humanitarian actors.
Spain welcomed the recommendations of the report and encouraged the Special Rapporteur to deepen his analysis of the political transition, with a view of holding elections before 2016. The Special Rapporteur should focus on issues related to security, justice and democracy. Reforms of the military and the police had to be implemented. The situation in detention centres was appalling and had to be improved. The climate of impunity made it difficult for the judiciary to do its work. What was being done to reform the judiciary?
Chad noted with satisfaction that Somalia had welcomed the human rights road map proposed to it by the Independent Expert. The security situation in Somalia however remained dangerous, as shown by the events in Kenya last week. Chad supported the measures laid out in the report of the Independent Expert which would help the Government of Somalia to strengthen the security situation in the country.
Ethiopia concurred with the Independent Expert that Somalia had made important progress and this provided an important opportunity to further promote and protect human rights in the country. The Government of Somalia should be commended for taking concrete steps that would further entrench human rights. Ethiopia reiterated its strong commitment as a neighbouring State to support the inclusive process in Somalia.
Romania congratulated the Independent Expert on his report and welcomed the activity of the Government of Somalia, particularly as regard to its intention to establish a national human rights institution and to strengthen the police and the judicial system. Romania said that the rights and protection of children, the most vulnerable group to human rights violations, had to continue to be a priority for Somalia. Romania asked the Independent Expert: How could the Somali authorities go further in providing protection to children?
France welcomed the efforts made by the Somali authorities in favour of peace, as well as the working relations established between the authorities and the Independent Expert. In spite of the commitment of the authorities, the human rights situation in Somalia remained precarious. Extrajudicial killings,
sexual violence and recruitment of children were all condemned. Efforts at reconciliation and dialogue at the national level were encouraged, as a priority.
Germany said that civilians, women and children in particular, were still victims of appalling human rights violations and abuses in Somalia. Impunity was worrisome. Perpetrators had to be sent a strong signal that human rights violations would not go unpunished. What should a monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangement on sexual violence concretely comprise to ensure that these grave crimes were addressed without endangering victims and witnesses?
United Kingdom said that the deplorable attack in Nairobi over the weekend demonstrated the continuing threat that Al Shabab posed to the international community. They had to build on the strong human rights commitments made by the Government and the United Kingdom looked forward to the implementation of the human rights roadmap. It urged for the establishment of a national human rights institution and commended the continued work to tackle sexual violence.
Czech Republic said that the cooperation of the Government of Somalia with the Independent Expert should serve as a good example of mutual relations between governments and Special Procedures. The Czech Republic invited the Somali Government to issue a standing invitation to all Special Procedures and welcomed the endorsement of the human rights roadmap. The new media law must improve the situation of journalists in Somalia and their personal safety.
Ireland thanked the Independent Expert for his valuable report. Given Somalia’s very challenging history during more than two decades, it was no surprise that the situation of human rights was a particularly difficult one. Ireland highlighted the Expert’s concern with regard to the rights of women and children. The situation of children had been particularly affected by the armed conflict. Almost two generations of Somali children had been denied the benefit of formal education.
United States said that more than 20 years of conflict compounded by famine and the displacement of millions of Somalis had created a climate of impunity in which human rights and international humanitarian law violations were rampant. Tangible measures were needed to address Somalia’s ongoing human rights crisis. The United States stood ready to assist the Government as it established an independent human rights commission. It expressed deep concern about the prevalence of sexual violence, including against children.
Nigeria said that Somalia was one of the world’s most neglected human rights and humanitarian situations yet had been the subject of numerous decisions and resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council. A thorough analysis of all these initiatives was due so that the reasons their impact had not been felt by the people of Somalia thus far could be understood.
Sudan welcomed the adoption of the human rights road map in Somalia and said that the approach based on dialogue between the Government of Somalia and the Independent Expert was a good one. It had resulted in practical suggestions and actions and Sudan called upon the Government to make use of other experience in the region and avail itself of expertise in and support from the international community.
Luxemburg said it welcomed the moves taken by the Government of Somalia in the direction of human rights and welcomed the report of the Independent Expert. Luxembourg noted that in light of recent events in Kenya the stabilisation of Somalia’s security situation was important. The protection of children had to be a priority for the new Government. Luxembourg welcomed the New Deal Compact between the European Union and Somalia.
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said journalists continued to face unacceptable risks to their personal safety. The Independent Expert’s recommendation to initiate effective and impartial investigations into the killing of journalists and media workers and the prosecution of those responsible was endorsed.
International Educational Development Inc. drew attention to the need to urgently address judicial reform in Somalia. What could realistically be done in the short term to enhance judicial reform in Somalia? It stressed the utmost need for the protection of the civilian population in light of action by Al-Shabab militants.
Amnesty International said that despite improvement of the security situation in the past year, civilians in Somalia continued to suffer from violence. Incidents of forced evictions and sexual and gender based violence had been reported. Key to this pattern that characterized Somalia was the pervasive culture of impunity which fed the cycle of crime.
SHAMSUL BARI, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said that the bill for a national human rights commission had been tabled twice and there were projects to work with the parliamentary committee to redraft the bill and to ensure that it complied with the Paris Principles. The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia were working on projects to support national commissions in Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia had a consultant to assist the Government to redraft the media law and to ensure human rights compliance. Therefore, immediate concerns had been identified by the Government and some changes could be expected. Concerning the protection of civilians, Mr. Bari noted that civilians had been the worst affected victims and protection in all areas where civilians might be concerned was important. The roadmap required additional work and now was the time to look into these issues and to identify human rights areas that needed to be addressed, a timeframe and the relevant authorities to address them. While this had not been done yet, work would continue along with the Government and other stakeholders to revisit the roadmap and areas identified. Civil society participation was necessary to develop ownership of the human rights roadmap. There was work to be done, and specific targets in areas such as education and health could be set up; if this was done properly a roadmap that addressed all concerns expressed would be in place. International support should be concretized on the basis of such a roadmap to measure and follow up on its implementation.
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan
The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan (A/HRC/24/31).
Presentation of the Report by the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan
MASHOOD A. BADERIN, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, introducing the report, said he had engaged in constructive discussions with key officials of the Government, international partners and other stakeholders, including civil society organizations. A visit to South Kordofan could not be carried out as initially intended due to the security situation in the region during the visit. The Government continued to take steps to adopt relevant policies towards improving the human rights situation in the country. However, the effective implementation and practical realization of those policies on the ground remained generally slow. The Government was urged to establish a high-level panel to oversee the implementation of the national action plan for the protection of human rights and to publish annual reports of the tangible results achieved under the plan, for an evaluation of the progress made. While the National Commission for Human Rights had made some good operational progress, it needed to deliver on its substantive mandate.
The general human rights situation in Sudan remained precarious and the country continued to face serious human rights challenges, especially in conflict-affected areas such as Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The operations of Government security agencies continued to impede the enjoyment of basic civil and political rights. The protection of women and children’s rights was another serious concern. Sexual and gender-based violence persisted and needed to be effectively addressed. Sudan was encouraged to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The recurrent armed conflicts between Government forces and armed rebel groups as well as inter- and intra-tribal clashes continued to result in serious human rights violations and large scale displacement of civilians in different parts of the country.
The security situation in the conflict-affected regions of the country remained precarious and impunity for human rights violations in these circumstances remained a recurring problem. The Government needed to fulfil its duty to protect civilians in Darfur and enhance the security situation in the region. All parties to the conflict in Darfur were called upon to desist from violence. The security situation in South Kordofan remained similarly precarious, with civilians caught in the crossfire between Government and rebel forces. While the Government bore primary responsibility for protecting the lives and properties of civilians, all parties to the conflict had a responsibility to respect the human rights of civilians at all times. The situation in Blue Nile State was equally plagued with unrest. While a visit could not be carried out, reports were received indicating that the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate.
Statement by Sudan as the Concerned Country
Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, said the report had highlighted the cooperation of the Government and Sudan reiterated that the Independent Expert had had the opportunity to visit different regions and that the decision not to visit certain regions had been taken by the Expert himself. During the visits carried out as part of the mandate, the Expert had been able to meet with officials and bodies working in the field of human rights, as well as civil society representatives. Over the last 10 years, Sudan had been undertaking an important process to create human rights mechanisms, which had been highlighted in the report, among others, the judiciary, the constitutional court, and the ombudsman. A number of organs were working to promote justice and human rights; and an advisory council was tasked with coordinating the work of different Government bodies concerning human rights.
There were challenges to be faced and a number of councils created to promote rights related to housing, children, persons with disabilities, families, and persons displaced because of conflict or natural disasters who were in need of assistance. An advisory council was working in the provinces to oversee the implementation and promotion of human rights. A national commission had been created in accordance with the Paris Principles and it had branches in different regions. The State had opened the way for civil society organizations to play a role in human rights, including providing advice to the State. Sudan attached particular importance to strengthening human rights as this was part of its culture and values.
Sudan had cooperated with all human rights mechanisms, and it welcomed the planned visit by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Sudan had implemented the Universal Periodic Review recommendations that had been accepted and had agreed to submit voluntary interim reports in this context. Sanctions constituted an obstacle for development and the wellbeing of its population, which also had an impact on the human rights situation, and Sudan hoped that the Council would help to put an end to such unilateral measures. Sudan called on the international community to condone its debt, which had a negative impact on human rights. Sudan played a positive role in human rights and needed encouragement rather than condemnation, and called on the Council to implement resolutions dealing with technical assistance and capacity building.
Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan
European Union said it was deeply concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Sudan, and that it raised these concerns repeatedly. The European Union called upon the Government of Sudan, rebels and other armed groups to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access to conflict areas. What did the Independent Expert think were the most urgent steps to be taken in reforming national legislation so that it conformed to international human rights standards? How could impunity be addressed?
Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, welcomed the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert and thanked him for the efforts he had made. The Government of Sudan was also thanked for its cooperation. Numerous mechanisms and institutions to promote and protect human rights in Sudan were now in place, and thematic plans such as the one to protect the rights of children were being enacted. The Arab Group reiterated its support to Sudan at this transitional time.
South Sudan welcomed the delegation of Sudan and the report of the Independent Expert. South Sudan welcomed the cooperation of Sudan in its Universal Periodic Review and with other United Nations bodies. South Sudan informed the Council that it was working with Sudan to further strengthen cooperation and their presidents had met in Khartoum last month. This positive atmosphere continued between South Sudan and Sudan in the Human Rights Council. Funding from the international community for the mandate of the Independent Expert had to continue to be forthcoming.
Ireland said it was clear that despite progress made in policy, legislation and institutional development, Sudan continued to face enormous human rights challenges. The Government was urged to fully implement the provisions of its Constitution and its international obligations relating to the right to freedom of religion. Sudan was urged to adhere to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at the earliest opportunity.
Lebanon said that the level of positive engagement by Sudan was proof of the respect of Sudan for human rights mechanisms. The report detailed steps taken to implement recommendations submitted to Sudan within the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. The Independent Expert was commended for his comprehensive understanding of the current human rights challenges in Sudan and his vision of the role that the international community could play in this regard.
Australia remained gravely concerned by the human rights situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and strongly urged Sudan to facilitate humanitarian access to the region and allow the work of the life-saving polio vaccination campaign to continue. Australia encouraged Sudan to continue a constructive dialogue with South Sudan to reach agreement, as soon as possible, on the establishment of local institutions and on a format and timeline for a referendum on the status of Abyei.
Qatar said the report reflected improvements in the situation of Sudan and the desire of its Government to fulfil human rights commitments and improve the situation on the ground. The Government had taken a number of steps such as making consistent efforts to implement recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review. Qatar was conscious of the importance of the promotion of peace and stability in Sudan and had hosted a donors’ conference.
United States said that Sudan had enormous human rights challenges and many in the international community remained deeply troubled by widespread and credible reports of human rights violations and abuses and violations of humanitarian law, perpetrated by the Government of Sudan and government-aligned groups. The ongoing aerial bombardment of civilian areas in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur was of particular concern. The United States was also deeply concerned by the continued restrictions on humanitarian access to Sudanese citizens in need.
Czech Republic was concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Sudan and reiterated the call upon the Government, rebels and other armed groups to take steps to protect civilians. It regretted that the Government had continued to clamp down on the activities of civil society and expressed concern over the continuing press censorship by government security agents. The implementation of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations remained one of the key challenges for the Government, unfortunately information on concrete changes and positive steps resulting from implementation was missing.
Kuwait said that the cooperation of the Government of Sudan had allowed the Independent Expert to interact with a number of bodies and officials. Kuwait welcomed efforts deployed by the Sudanese Government for the implementation of recommendations as well as the national strategy to combat violence. Kuwait also welcomed the inquiries into crimes committed in the region and called for the international community to continue to provide technical assistance, in particular with regards to capacity building.
Germany regretted that the Independent Expert had not been able to visit South Kordofan, but welcomed that he was able to report on other trouble spots in Sudan. Germany encouraged the Government to continue efforts toward a comprehensive national peace dialogue. What steps could the international community take to ensure the implementation of the Doha Document? Could the Independent Expert exemplify best practice of the international community offering civil society technical assistance so that this could be applied in Sudan?
Indonesia commended the establishment of various national mechanisms in order to address human rights challenges in Sudan, particularly for vulnerable groups including women, children, elder persons and the conflict-affected population. Indonesia also welcomed the continuing endeavours made by the Government to fight impunity, including the establishment of a Special Prosecutor for Darfur Crimes. The international community could contribute constructively by providing technical assistance to Sudan in cooperation with the Government.
Sri Lanka said that as a country that had emerged from a protracted terrorist conflict, it was empathetic to the many challenges faced by Sudan in its progression towards normalcy. Sri Lanka appreciated the establishment of several national mechanisms with a view to addressing human rights challenges, particularly for vulnerable groups. The Universal Periodic Review process was a constructive channel to explore avenues for technical cooperation, in consultation with the State, to support the implementation of the human rights obligations of Sudan.
Maldives commended the Government of Sudan for progress in legislation and institutional developments towards improving the human rights situation. It understood the challenges faced by the Government in implementing its Universal Periodic Review recommendations as well as recommendations made by the Independent Expert, following his visits to the country. Maldives called on the Government of Sudan, the international community and civil society organizations to continue and enhance efforts to provide assistance to Sudan.
Ethiopia commended the cooperation and support extended to the Independent Expert by the Government of Sudan during his visit. It also commended the Government of Sudan for the establishment and the work done by the Unit for Combating Violence against Women and Children, its branches in different regions of the country to protect women’s rights, and the initiation of the five-year national strategic plan aimed at combating violence against women and children, which had resulted in a remarkable decrease in cases of violence against women.
France condemned extrajudicial executions, gender based violence, acts of torture and indiscriminate violence in Sudan, among others. Culprits had to be brought to justice and immunity being granted to security forces hardly helped this. What were the obstacles to the ratification of the Conventions on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and on the Elimination of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment? How could the effective implementation of the national human rights strategy be ensured?
Canada welcomed the report and shared the concerns raised, in particular those relating to restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and assembly and the implementation of human rights policies. Despite access provided to Darfur, North Kordofan and Blue Nile, Canada noted the fact that the Expert did not visit South Kordofan. Canada also shared concerns about the limitations imposed on human rights defenders and the reports of arbitrary arrests carried out by the authorities. Canada noted progress in the development of policies and legislation, such as the 10-year action plan.
Uganda noted that the Government of Sudan had accepted 121 recommendations out of the 160 recommendations received. Sudan had fully implemented 48 recommendations and 72 were ongoing. Uganda commended Sudan for its cooperation with the international community, especially the Council. Sudan had established various national mechanisms to tackle various challenges, such as the human rights committee of the national assembly, the national council for child welfare, and the unit for combating violence against women and children.
Pakistan welcomed the report of the Expert and noted the cooperation extended by the Government of Sudan despite its challenges. Pakistan noted with appreciation steps taken for the promotion and protection of the rights of Sudanese citizens, such as the establishment of a number of human rights mechanisms addressing the needs of vulnerable groups. In order to improve the human rights situation, Pakistan urged the international community to continue to provide technical cooperation and support for the implementation of the Doha platform.
Libya thanked the Independent Expert for his constructive work and his cooperation with the Sudanese Government. Thanks to the Government’s efforts and the signing of a comprehensive agreement, the conflict had ended. Libya referred to the signing of the Doha Document between the Government and the opposition armed groups, which was a success. In spite of the challenges it faced, the Government continued to undertake reforms and to raise awareness among its population on human rights issues.
Mexico acknowledged the fact that Sudan had facilitated the access of the Independent Expert in the country and hoped that he would be able to visit South Kordofan in the future. Technical assistance should contribute to the implementation of the country’s legal framework. Mexico hoped that a constitution in line with international standards would be adopted soon. Mexico was concerned about the situation in Darfur, Blue Nile state and South Kordofan. The Independent Expert should extend consultations with civil society.
Bangladesh appreciated the efforts made by the Government to improve the situation in South Kordofan. Bangladesh commended the establishment by the Government of Sudan of various mechanisms to implement its human rights obligations. As a war-torn, least developed country, Sudan faced a host of difficulties. Development was one of the most important factors to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights. It was important that the international community removed barriers that impeded the enjoyment of the right to development of the Sudanese people.
Morocco said it welcomed the affirmation in the report that Sudan had made progress in the establishment of legislation and institution-building to promote human rights. It also welcomed the Government’s resolution to promote human rights and its efforts to present to the Council today measures taken as a part of the mid-term report. Sudan was congratulated on its positive cooperation with Council mechanisms, illustrated by the measures taken by the Government to facilitate the various visits to far-flung corners of the country, despite the situation.
United Kingdom was deeply concerned about an overall deterioration in the human rights situation in Sudan in conflict and non-conflict affected areas. It was unacceptable that civilians living in conflict affected areas were not receiving the humanitarian assistance they needed and all parties were urged to allow access to these areas. The Government of Sudan was urged to respect the rights of all its citizens. Reports of harassment and arrests of members of civil society organizations, political activists and the media were of serious concern.
Norway urged the Sudanese Government to address the human rights challenges in the country as a matter of priority. The protection of civilians in conflict areas, including the protection of women from sexual harassment, was of vital importance. Norway held that the protection of human rights and the expansion of democratic space and practices were fundamental to overcome the violent internal conflicts that were going on in different parts of the country. Norway strongly supported the renewal of the mandate of the Independent Expert in order to facilitate progress in the field.
Egypt noted the progress made by Sudan in developing policies and legislative and institutional mechanisms necessary for improving the human rights situation. Sudan had been a responsible member of the Council and Egypt supported the sustainability of the progress made so far and positively noted the adoption of a 10-year national action plan for the protection of human rights. Egypt called on the international community to intensify its efforts towards helping Sudan in its current endeavours to promote and protect human rights and to provide the Government with the necessary technical assistance and capacity building.
United Arab Emirates thanked the Expert for the report and his continued efforts to help Sudan fulfil its commitments. It was evident from the report that there was a general positive impression and that many measures had been taken to improve the institutional human rights framework. The Council should appreciate the improvement, even if it was still partial and slow. The United Arab Emirates called on the international community to continue to provide support to Sudan to achieve its human rights aspirations.
Nigeria commended Sudan for fully cooperating with the Expert and was pleased to note that Sudan had continued to make appreciable progress in legislative and institutional developments aimed at promoting and protecting the human rights of the people of Sudan. Nigeria was also pleased to recognize the commitment of the Government in implementing the recommendations of the 2011 Universal Periodic Review, including the drawing up of a detailed action plan. Nigeria urged the international community to continue to provide the necessary technical and capacity building assistance.
Saudi Arabia thanked the Independent Expert for his constructive efforts and congratulated the Government of Sudan for its efforts to promote and protect human rights in spite of the many difficulties it faced. The Government’s continued efforts to combat poverty and to improve the economic situation were commendable. The international community should continue to support the country.
Cuba said that it opposed as a matter of principle the establishment of country-specific mandates and reiterated that the Universal Periodic Review was a suitable method to assess the human rights situation of a country, on an equal footing and in a spirit of cooperation. The international community should address the issue of unilateral measures imposed on Sudan, which were an impediment to the enjoyment of human rights by the Sudanese population.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea appreciated the establishment by the Government of Sudan of various national mechanisms in order to address human rights challenges, particularly for vulnerable groups. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea appreciated the introduction of new regulations for humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas. The international community was urged to apply pressure on the armed rebel movements to join the peace process.
Bahrain said the report reflected cooperation between the Independent Expert and the Government of Sudan on issues of human rights. Bahrain commended Sudan on facilitating the visit of the Independent Expert and opening access to various areas, as well as the development of projects such as water dams which helped fight poverty and create new jobs. It was noted that legislation had been adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights. The international community needed to support peace efforts in Darfur and offer technical assistance to various bodies.
Switzerland called on the Government and competent bodies to ensure that measures planned were implemented and had an impact on the civilian population in all regions of the country. Civil society had to be involved in action undertaken by the Government to promote human rights and the Government was called upon to restrain from restricting or blocking the activities of civil society. There was concern about short-comings of the country’s judicial system and the Government was called upon to address impunity.
United Nations Children’s Fund encouraged the Government to ensure full consistency between the Child Act of 2010 and other national laws and judicial practice, particularly with regards to the definition of the child. The lack of consistency had sometimes led to the criminalization of children, including victims of sexual violence and exposed children to the risk of capital punishment. It was concerned about the widespread practices of female genital mutilation, child marriage and stigmatization of children born out of wedlock.
Thailand took positive note of the progress made in legislative and institutional areas and the Government’s continuing efforts to implement the accepted Universal Periodic Review recommendations. Like the Independent Expert, Thailand encouraged the Government of Sudan to publish the progress made in the implementation of recommendations; and looked forward to seeing the effective implementation of the 10-year national plan. Thailand also urged the international community to keep its pledges under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
China commended the cooperation and support extended by Sudan to the Independent Expert and the Government’s efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. China noted with satisfaction the establishment of a number of mechanisms and the commitment to combating violations, in particular against women and children. China urged the international community to look at the human rights situation in Sudan objectively and impartially, taking into account the specific situation and challenges faced.
Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, extended its appreciation to Sudan for its continuous support and cooperation with the Independent Expert. The African Group was encouraged by progress made in relation to different human rights issues, including legislative and institutional developments aimed at improving the human rights situation in Sudan. The adoption of the 10-year national action plan as well as the implementation of some Universal Periodic Review recommendations were positive measures that reflected the willingness of Sudan to cooperate with the Council.
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project was deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Sudan and by the inadequate response by the Council to date. Continued violations of human rights in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan had had a devastating impact on civilians. Indiscriminate attacks by government forces on civilian areas had been reported. Restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly and association had increased.
Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that human rights abuses were on the rise around the world. The numerous mandates adopted by United Nations bodies on Sudan had had no effect on the human rights situation in Sudan. The lack of development was a major cause for human rights abuses. The international community should respond to appeals to invest in post-conflict zones.
Human Rights Watch said the Government of Sudan engaged in abusive practices of indiscriminate aerial bombings and other unlawful killings and restricted basic rights and freedoms across the country. The human rights situation had seriously deteriorated over the past 12 months, a reality not reflected in the Independent Expert’s report. The Government continued its indiscriminate bombings on civilian areas. The report did not accurately reflect the use of violence by security forces to break up peaceful protests.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues called upon the Council to condemn the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law taking place in Sudan and to urge the Government to allow the Independent Expert to monitor violations in all parts of the country and to seek to obtain information from a wide range of independent sources to reflect the human rights crisis on the ground.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies remained deeply concerned by the Council’s failure to respond appropriately and effectively to the severity of the widespread and ongoing violations to international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan. In South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, humanitarian aid was consistently prevented from reaching large numbers of civilians who were directly affected by the conflict.
Amnesty International condemned gross violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. It also condemned the repression of civil and political rights by the Sudanese Government. The Council was urged to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert with a strong call to effectively monitor and report the gross and systematic violations and abuses.
Society Studies Centre (MADA ssc) said that the positive role undertaken by civil society organizations was increasingly important in Sudan. The situation in Sudan faced major challenges, mainly due to the multiplicity of rebel movements, and there was a need to implement Universal Periodic Review recommendations with the indispensable participation of civil society.
Sudan, speaking as the concerned country, thanked speakers and said that Sudan had taken all statements into account. The positive statements were well-taken but in responding to criticism, Sudan said that the Independent Expert was not prevented from visiting South Kordofan, but chose himself not to go after a call from the United Nations. Regarding comments about political prisoners, it had to be noted that there were no political prisoners in Sudan anymore, only people convicted of crimes. Freedom of religion was respected in Sudan. The Government responded to violations of human rights in line with the international instruments. The Independent Expert was able to visit Sudan and speak to various stakeholders, including political opponents. His report contained diverse voices, as he clearly stated in the document. The Government was setting up human rights institutions and mechanisms, and the international community had simply to support Sudan in its efforts to restore peace. Sudan would continue to fully cooperate with the Human Rights Council and the Independent Expert, despite the negative comments heard in the room today. Human rights must remain depoliticized.
MASHOOD BADERIN, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, thanked all speakers for their contributions to the interactive dialogue. The discussion would help Sudan to improve its human rights situation. Many questions touched on the reform of the National Security Act. There was a need for Parliament to review this Act to ensure that it respected Sudan’s international obligations, especially with regard to immunities and the oversight and accountability of the law enforcement agencies. The question of impunity had to be tackled. The aerial assaults by Sudanese forces were criticised and Sudan had to make sure that they stopped. Sudan had a duty to respect its international obligations. Concerning the Doha Document for Peace, there was a need for the different donors to fulfil their pledges. The international community should put pressure on the other parties to the conflict that were not part of the agreement to make sure that it was applicable. The national strategy on human rights was still in its infancy, it needed to be worked upon. A high-level panel would be established to monitor its implementation and make sure it was workable. The Independent Expert was aware that the authorities were still considering ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture. Civil society organizations were very important; the authorities should cooperate with them and the international community should continue to support the Sudanese civil society. Mr. Baderin thanked the Council for its cooperation with Sudan, which would help the country to achieve real progress in the field of human rights.
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