The following statement was issued today by the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Anne-Marie Lizin:
“The Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Ms Anne-Marie Lizin has completed a mission to the Republic of Sudan at the invitation of the Government.

During her mission, conducted from November 18 to 21, the Independent Expert met with Government officials from different ministries (Justice, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Welfare and Social Development, Interior, Coordination Council of the Southern States) and public institutions (Zakat Chambers, Savings and Social Development Bank) in charge of poverty reduction policies as well as civil society groups and UN and EU representatives.

It was the first time that the Independent Expert visited a country in conflict but as the Sudanese peace negotiations may soon reach a positive conclusion she felt it was appropriate to discuss and examine the economic and social rights dimension of the situation and to get acquainted with preparations for post-conflict arrangements. In that context Ms Lizin was apprised of current Government efforts to draft an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) with support and participation from civil society and private sector, UNDP and International Finance Institutions. She was informed that a full PRSP will be developed once peace prevails in the entire country.

The Independent Expert was informed of the ongoing drafting of a law that would criminalize any kind of female genital mutilations following the first national conference on this issue in August 2003. The Sudanese Government also indicated that the Convention Against Torture would be ratified shortly. As for the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, the Independent Expert strongly encouraged their ratification and translation into national legislation. Such a move would signal renewed commitment to human rights and would contribute to confidence building among the national and international stakeholders.

The findings and recommendations of the Independent Expert will be incorporated in the report that will be presented to the forthcoming 60th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights which will take place in Geneva in March-April 2004.

Ms. Lizin was appointed Independent Expert by the Commission in 1998 and her mandate was extended twice. In the course of her mandate she carried out a number of country missions to Bolivia, Benin, the Dominican Republic, and Yemen.

Ms. Lizin is the Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Belgian Senate.“