Sudan Call’s reaction on draft resoluton Africa Group

Africa Group from the United Nations on Human Rights wrote a draft resolution on technical assistance and capacity-building in Sudan. The following are some key observations and recommendations, written by Sudan Call, a group consist of political parties civil society organizations. The Hague Peace Projects shares their observation because we critically follow the updates on Sudan, and strive for a strong, fair and effective resolution, contributing to peace and justice in Sudan.

– The draft is incredibly weak and bears no relation whatsoever to the deteriorating human rights situation on the ground and the analysis in the IE’s report.

– Instead of renewing the IE’s mandate for a full 12 months, the draft envisages terminating his mandate altogether by March 2019
– it is totally inappropriate to talk about transition of the human rights situation in Sudan given the continuing appalling human rights violations being committed by the Government. If the mandate is to be transitioned anywhere, it should be back to item 4. The language on transition will send a very negative signal to the victims of the Government’s human rights violations, to civil society and NGOs. It will also encourage the Government if Sudan to think that it can continue its human rights violations with impunity.

– The draft has completely eliminated any reference to monitoring, verifying and reporting. It has limited the Independent Expert (IE)’s mandate just to technical assistance and capacity building. Any capacity-building should be organically linked to monitoring.

– It wants to replace a monitoring mechanism with a toothless OHCHR office in Khartoum under the control of the Government of Sudan. The Government has a long track record of obstructing the work of UNAMID’s human rights section. The IE’s report acknowledges that the OHCHR has attempted to visit Sudan over the last two years but the Government of Sudan has denied them access. If the Government is not prepared to grant the OHCHR even minimum standards of access for a capacity building needs assessment, what chance is there that an OHCHR office in Khartoum would be allowed to become fully operational and fully functional. And even if it could function, the Government would continue to intimidate and detain human rights defenders and civil society representatives who try to contact it just as the Government has done with those who have tried to contact the IE during his visits or to travel to Geneva to attend this Council

– The text gives a lot of credit to the Government’s so-called achievements but ignores all the grave human rights violations documented in the IE’s report and the fact that the President of Sudan is wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

– It mixes up political and human rights issues. The fact that Khartoum played a role in mediating in South Sudan is not relevant to its human rights record

– It is one-sided in only acknowledging the cessation of hostilities announced by the Government of Sudan and not the cessation of hostilities announced by the armed movements. If the text is going to give credit to one side, it ought to give credit to both

– The draft does not refer to the ongoing wars in three big regions of Sudan which are fundamental to the human rights situation by threatening the right to life

– It commends the Government of Sudan for hosting more than a million refugees yet the Government of Sudan has displaced 6 million of its own citizens either internally or as refugees

– It notes with appreciation the Government’s efforts in combatting terrorism and human trafficking and smuggling yet the Government has an impressive record of involvement in terrorism and government officials are complicit in human trafficking

– It welcomes the Government’s efforts to investigate human rights violations and to hold perpetrators to account, yet Sudan’s security forces, who are the main perpetrators of human rights violations, enjoy complete impunity.

– The Government is asking U.N. mechanisms for more resources for technical assistance and capacity building, while it continues to commit human rights violations. In the absence of freedoms, democracy, an independent judiciary or any redress or complaints mechanism for victims, there no conducive environment for technical assistance and capacity building

– The draft refers to the appointment of the Chairperson of the Sudan National Human Rights Commission as a positive development. Yet contrary to the Paris Principles that provide for the independence of national human rights institutions, the new Chairperson of Sudan’s National Human Rights Commission is the former wife of President Bashir’s brother.

– In conclusion, the whole draft is a travesty of the actual human rights situation in Sudan and appears to refer to a country that doesn’t actually exist. It is extraordinary that while one arm of the UN system, the UN Security Council, has referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC and Sudan’s President is wanted by the ICC for atrocity crimes, another arm of the UN system is discussing a draft resolution that would reward the Government of Sudan for all its crimes.

Sudan call
19-09-2018
Geneva

Vredessymposium 21 September

On the 21ste of September, International Peace Day, the umbrella organisation Vredesmissies Zonder Wapens, will organize a peace symposium where they honour three young peace activists as peaceheroes (vredeshelden). One of them is our very own colleage Tayfun Balçik!

We are very proud with this nomination! If you want to be part of this historical moment, please send an email to: vredesmissieszonderwapens@gmail.com

Read the full program here in Dutch

Date: 21 September
Location: City hall, Grote Kerkplein 15 Zwolle
Time: 13:00 – 18:00

In Rwanda, a political icon leaves prison with her mouth closed

By Akayezu Muhumuza Valentin
Rwandan Human Rights Activist

On 14th September 2018, the Rwandan Ministers’ Cabinet approved President Kagame’s decision to grant a presidential pardon to the political prisoner Umuhoza Ingabire Victoire. In 2010, Ingabire was nominated by her political party FDU-INKINGi to run in the 2010 presidential elections. At this time, her arrival in Rwanda after several years in exile provoked strong reactions and controversies in the Rwandan political landscape. Her remark at the genocide memorial site in Gisozi turned into accusations of genocide denial. A few days later, the anti-Ingabire campaign began. First, it was the Rwandan Agency of Information that organized a radio debate, mainly focused on Ingabire’s speech at Gisozi memorial site. Many argued that her political aims were provocative and revisionist. Shortly after, all the chambers of parliament called an information hearing to describe the true image of Ingabire.  The conclusions of this session recommended an immediate judicial inquiry to be opened against her. In the same time, during an interview with a Ugandan journalist in Kampala, President Kagame denied the status of politician in Ingabire and qualified her as being the same as Alice Lakwena who founded Lord Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Early this year, asked by a journalist of TV5  why the Rwandan government known for its firm commitment to promote the female promotion threatens women who act in political opposition, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs replied that not all Rwandan women are saints. She said there are also witches.

When the Ingabire’s episode of a judicial saga started, the High Court of Rwanda sentenced her to seven years of imprisonment. The sanction was increased by the Supreme Court of Rwanda to 15 years. Recently, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a verdict confirming serious violations in the Ingabire trial and even recommended the government of Rwanda to compensate her. But it should be noted that the government decided to withdraw from the protocol that grants immediate access to Rwandan citizens to bring an action before this court without the government’s prior approval. The Rwandan Minister of Justice accused this court of being instrumentalized by the genociaries. At the beginning of Ingabire’s trial in the High Court, it was reported that she had addressed a letter asking President Kagame for forgiveness. However, she later denied it. Has she asked pardon again? At this time, nothing was said if she has asked for forgiveness once more!  In practice, among the charges brought against her, the crime of undermining national security excludes her from the persons who could be pardoned by the President of the Republic.

What does her release mean for the political context in Rwanda? Although the decision of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights recognised her profile as a political personality arrested on basis of  her ideas, the Rwandan government did not want to implement it. However, it is quite possible that pressures and other different dynamics pushed the government to find ways to get her out of prison not as a victim of a judicial travesty, but as a convicted person who will no longer be able act on the political scene. In this regard, the liberation of Ingabire shows no sign of democratic progress in Rwanda. The political space in the country remains closed.