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Sudan / Human rights: UN expert calls on the Government to adopt urgent democratic reforms

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, has called on the Sudanese authorities to undertake democratic reforms as a means for ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

"I remain concerned about a number of human rights issues in the country which are still largely unaddressed since my last visit in February this year," Mr. Nononsi said at the end of his follow-up mission to the Sudan from 11 to 21 May.

"I am aware of incidents of what appear to be harassment and arrests targeting representatives of civil society organizations," the expert noted. "I urge the Sudanese authorities to release Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam and Hafiz Idris, as I believe that they are being held solely for their legitimate work with UNAMID staff on protecting and promoting human rights in the Sudan."

In this context, the Independent Expert encouraged the Government to consider amendments to the Sudan Voluntary and Humanitarian Works Act of 2006, which regulates NGOs, to bring it in line with the Interim National Constitution and international human rights standards.

During his eleven-day mission, Mr. Nononsi stressed the need to ensure the protection of the freedom of religion in the Sudan, with particular reference to the demolition of churches and places of worship by the national security services.

"The national security services have been used to intimidate as well as arrest or detain Christian religious leaders," the human rights expert stressed. "I have raised this issue in my discussions with government officials as a legitimate concern, which the Government of the Sudan needs to pay attention to, in view of the importance of the freedom of religion in a democratic society."

The Independent Expert also expresses concern about ongoing censorship of newspapers, and increased restrictions on journalists from freely expressing their opinion.

He denounced, in this regard, the National Intelligence and Security Service's decision to ban from writing an Aljareeda newspaper's columnist since December 2016, which contravenes the Interim National Constitution of Sudan and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Sudan is a State party.

"In my meeting with the Legislative Committee of the Sudan Parliament, I received assurances that the process for the amendment of the National Security Act and Criminal Act will be completed with a view to ensuring their compliance with international standards," he said.

"I am of the view that bringing the powers of the National Intelligence and Security Service in line with international standards – a governmental body operating as an intelligence agency focused on information gathering, analysis and advice to the Government – will help improve the human rights environment in the Sudan," concluded Mr. Nononsi.

During his fourth visit to the country, the UN human rights expert met with the Sudanese authorities, civil society actors, academia, community leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, and UN entities in Khartoum and Blue Nile.

The Independent Expert on Sudan will present his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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