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Sudan: Prominent human rights defender detained incommunicado

(20 December 2016) A prominent Sudanese human rights defender (HRD), Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, is currently detained incommunicado by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Dr. Mudawi was arrested at the University of Khartoum, where he is a professor, on 7 December 2016 alongside his longtime driver, Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar. Both men are currently being held without charge or access to their families and lawyers at NISS headquarters near Shande Bus Station. The 22 undersigned organisations express serious concerns regarding the two men’s safety and well-being whilst in the custody of the NISS.

NISS officers raided Dr. Mudawi’s home -hours after his arrest on the evening of 7 December, and only informed his family of his arrest and whereabouts five days later, on 12 December. To date, authorities have failed to give a reason or present charges to justify Dr. Mudawi’s arrest.

Mr. Mukhtar’s whereabouts were not confirmed until 12 December and there are no charges known to be leveled against him. He is suspected to be held solely for his affiliation with Dr. Mudawi, whom he has worked for since 2001, as a means to extract information and intelligence regarding Dr. Mudawi’s work and connections to human rights activities. Interrogations by the NISS documented by our organisations consistently involve beatings, verbal abuse and threats, and other ill-treatment.

Read the full press release.

Civil Society Statement to the UN Human Rights Council regarding South Sudan

(14 December 2016) Tomorrow marks a terrible anniversary for South Sudan. On December 15, 2013, fighting in Juba ignited a brutal conflict that has torn the country apart, leaving millions of South Sudanese in dire need. Today the country stands on a precipice.

On behalf of the undersigned organizations we urge the UN Human Rights Council to use its full powers to help end three years of appalling atrocities against civilians, including journalists and humanitarian workers and as well as human rights activists, before the situation deteriorates even further.

We are deeply frustrated that there have been few consequences for and little accountability of the perpetrators. This impunity permits South Sudan's political and military leaders to continue committing violations against civilians, to censor, detain and arbitrarily deport journalists; to attack and expel aid workers; and to threaten local human rights activists.

Read the full statement.

I Know the Consequences of War: Understanding the dynamics of displacement in Burundi

(7 December 2016) Today, the International Refugee Rights Initiative launched a new report, “I Know the Consequences of War: Understanding the dynamics of displacement in Burundi”. The report brings much needed insight as to how Burundians are deciding to flee or stay in a context in which more than 300,000 are already in exile. The report has not only direct bearing on the potential to resolve displacement in and from Burundi, but also enables the international community to gain a better understanding of the causes of exile that can be applied in other contexts.

Based on 117 interviews with those who have fled to Tanzania, those who fled and have returned, those displaced internally and those who stayed put, one of the key findings was that individuals’ previous experiences had influenced their assessment of risk. For many, their previous experience of conflict was an incentive to flee early, before the situation reached its worst “I had seen such things since my childhood, so how could I wait? I know the consequences of war.” For others, painful memories of previous rounds of displacement influenced their decision to stay “[t]hey would rather opt for suicide or death on the spot rather than returning into exile.”

Read the full press release
Read the full report.

TRACKs trial continues as detainees near their 6th month of detention

(17 November 2016) Three leading civil society activists will soon reach their sixth month of detention on baseless charges related solely to their work and affiliation with the Centre for Training and Human Development (TRACKs), a Khartoum-based organisation that provides training on a variety of topics from information technology to human rights. The detainees - TRACKs Director Khalafalla al Afif Mukhtar, together with trainer Midhat Afif al-Deen Hamdan, and the director of another organisation, Alzarqaa Organisation for Rural Development, Mustafa Adam-- face charges together with seven other activists affiliated with TRACKs in two overlapping criminal cases. Six members of the group, including the three detainees are currently standing trial.

Read the full press release.

African Civil Society Voices Support for the International Criminal Court

(14 November 2016) To the Presidents of African States Parties to the International Criminal Court, We write to commend your government for its membership and support for the International Criminal Court, and to encourage your government to offer greater support to the court in the wake of the withdrawals from the ICC by South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia. In recent years, the ICC has come under significant attack. The inability of the ICC to have authority over crimes committed in some powerful countries and their allies is a cause of deep concern, even as claims that the ICC is targeting Africa are not supported by the facts.

A particular challenge is that the United States, China, and Russia have not joined the ICC, and they have blocked Security Council action to send crimes to the ICC that are committed in states that have not joined the court. Our organisations are committed to working to expand the reach of the ICC to ensure justice for serious crimes wherever they are committed.

Read the full letter.

A Way Forward for the Hybrid Court for South Sudan

(1 November 2016) We, the undersigned South Sudanese and international non-governmental organizations, write to share our thoughts with you on the way forward for the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS). We recognize the efforts made by the African Union Commission (AUC) to date, as outlined in the Draft Project Proposal for Establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.

We suggest that the AUC proceed on two fronts: (1) Prepare a draft statute for the HCSS in consultation with relevant stakeholders and ensure that it is enacted through appropriate legal processes as soon as possible, and (2) immediately establish an evidence preservation mechanism as a precursor to the full operationalization of the HCSS.

Read the full letter (English, French).

Call for Evidence: All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry into UK-Sudan relations

A submission prepared by the International Refugee Rights Initiative.

(15 September 2016) This submission focuses on the conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states (also known as the “Two Areas”) between the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N). It details attacks against civilians in the Two Areas and is based on information compiled by the Sudan Consortium and the National Human Rights Monitors Organisation (NHRMO).3 The submission intends to inform the UK government of Sudan’s human rights record and urge the government to not, directly or indirectly, contribute to the violations.

Read the full report.

Letter from 33 NGOs and individuals regarding the human rights situation in Sudan in advance of the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council

(7 September 2016) Our organisations write to you in advance of the opening of the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to share our serious concerns regarding the human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan. Many of these abuses are detailed in the attached annex.

We draw your attention to the Sudanese government’s continuing abuses against civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, including unlawful attacks on villages and indiscriminate bombing of civilians. We are also concerned about the continuing repression of civil and political rights, in particular the ongoing crackdown on protesters and abuse of independent civil society and human rights defenders. In a recent example in March 2016, four representatives of Sudanese civil society were intercepted by security officials at Khartoum International Airport on their way to a high level human rights meeting with diplomats that took place in Geneva on 31 March. The meeting was organised by the international NGO, UPR Info, in preparation for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sudan that took place in May.

Read the full letter.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Preventing an escalation of violence and abuse

(6 September 2016) The political impasse in the Democratic Republic of Congo is at serious risk of spiraling into widespread violence over the coming months, with serious consequences for the people in Congo and broader ramifications across the region. Since January 2015, the Congolese government has imposed a brutal crackdown against those who have spoken out against or opposed attempts to extend President Joseph Kabila’s stay in power beyond his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ends on December 19, 2016. Government security forces have arbitrarily arrested scores of opposition leaders and activists, fired on peaceful protesters, banned opposition demonstrations, shut down media outlets, accused peaceful pro-democracy youth activists of plotting terrorist acts, and prevented opposition leaders from moving freely around the country.

The risk of increased violence, instability, brutal repression, and a further shrinking of political space in the coming months is very real. While the window of opportunity is closing, we believe there is still time to influence the course of events and help prevent a dangerous escalation of violence. This letter includes twelve recommendations to protect human rights and social order.

Read the full letter in English and French.

Letter to the German Authorities regarding the release of Darfur activists

We, the undersigned 77 human rights groups, civic leaders, scholars and activists, write to request your assistance in securing the immediate release of internally displaced Darfuris who were arrested by the Sudan government after recent meetings with Ambassador Donald Booth, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. In addition, we ask you to intervene on behalf of the people of Sudan to pressure the Sudan government to abide by the ceasefires it declared on the 17th and 30th of June and to end all attacks by its forces and militias. Finally, as a leader of the European Union (EU), we ask Germany to exert its influence to end support to the Sudan government as part of its program to curb the flow of immigrants into Europe.

Read the full letter here.

Civil Society Statement on Push Factors in Sudan and the Khartoum Process

(20 June 2016) On World Refugee Day, we, the undersigned individuals and civil society organisations, wish to draw attention to a number of the human rights violations serving as push factors for Sudan’s refugees and internally displaced. In light of the recent EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (also known as the Khartoum Process) which has increased the EU’s cooperation with Sudan, we are deeply concerned that Sudan is being treated as a partner in addressing migration despite the fact the country is producing refugees itself and failing to respect international refugee law. It is critical that the EU does not, directly or indirectly, contribute to the violations or create more refugees.

Read the full statement here.

Sudan: Joint Civil Society Statement regarding Sexual Violence in Conflict

(19 June 2016) On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict the undersigned 24 individuals and civil society organisations call on the Sudanese government to end the widespread sexual violence committed by its security forces and to reverse the atmosphere of impunity that fosters it.

In Darfur, as the report of the UN Secretary General noted in April 2016, Sudanese government forces have continued to use sexual violence during attacks on villages and displaced persons over the last 12 years. This was reflected in President Bashir’s indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009, which includes charges of rape committed by Sudanese forces as a crime against humanity.

Read the full statement.

Letter Regarding Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) of the Agreement for Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

(17 June 2016) On the 17 June, 29 NGOs wrote a letter to Festus Mogae, Chair of South Sudan’s Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee urging him to:

1. Reaffirm the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee’s commitment to justice, truth and reparations for crimes under international law committed during the course of the conflict in South Sudan;
2. Strongly remind the President and First Vice-President that they are obliged to establish the Hybrid Court, and meet all the other terms they signed onto in the peace agreement of August 2015;
3. Urge the AU Commission to quickly press ahead with the development of the Hybrid Court, and to start a public consultation process in South Sudan to ensure South Sudanese citizens and civil society actively participate in the establishment of the Hybrid Court;
4. Encourage AU member states to pledge their commitment to the formation of the Hybrid Court – as it is the first of its kind to be established by the AU Commission – through their public statements, the provision of experts on transitional justice and via financial support.

Read the full letter here.

Ensuring the Independence, Neutrality and Impartiality of the AU PSC Field Mission to Burundi

(17 June 2016) 49 African and international NGOs signed a letter to the AU urging them to reconsider their plan to have Burundi lead the AU's Peace and Security Council's visit to Burundi, that is scheduled for the 23-24 June. The proposal calls the whole mission into question with regards to its ability to conduct an "independent, neutral and impartial assessment of the situation in Burundi" and in addition is in contravention of Section 9 of Article 8 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. the submission to the AU included a personal video message from renowned Burundian human rights activist Pierre Claver.

Read the full letter (English, French)

Open Letter to Member States of the International Conference on the Greats Lakes Region regarding the situation in Sudan

(14 June 2016) We, the undersigned civil society organisations, call on the 6th Ordinary Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Heads of State and Government to take urgent action to address the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including by establishing a joint commission of inquiry to investigate the situation.

The theme of the current summit ongoing in Luanda, Angola, is “Accelerating the effective implementation of the Pact and its Protocols for a more democratic and stable Great Lakes Region.” Nowhere is there a more urgent need for robust action to ensure that the Pact and its Protocols are implemented and that the ICGLR’s promise of peace and development are realised, than in Sudan’s conflict affected regions of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Read the full letter.

Open Letter concerning excessive use of force by Sudanese authorities

(3 May 2016) We, the undersigned thirty nine organizations and individuals, are writing to inform you of the use of excessive force by Sudanese authorities to disperse peaceful demonstrators across Sudan. At least nine people, including one child, have been killed in three separate incidents in 2016 alone. Most recently, two students were killed in separate incidents in April, in which government security forces and armed students used live ammunition to break up protests at two university campuses.

Read the full letter.

Letter: UN Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in Sudan

(26 April 2016) We, Sudanese and international human rights organisations concerned with issues of human rights in Sudan, would like to take the opportunity of your recent visit to Sudan to raise a series of issues regarding the current human rights situation in the country. Armed conflict continues to devastate many parts of the country and the government has placed severe restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms. We respectfully request that you consider this information in compiling your report and in formulating recommendations to the Sudanese government, with a view to ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Read the full letter.

UN Member States should make strong recommendations to Sudan at upcoming human rights review

(19 April 2016) UN Member states should make strong and specific recommendations during an upcoming UN review of Sudan’s human rights record, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) said today.

On 4 May 2016, Sudan will undergo its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, during which UN member states will review Sudan’s progress in implementing its human rights commitments and raise new concerns that have emerged since its last review in 2011.

Read the full press release.
Read our key concerns in English.
Read our key concerns in Arabic.
Read a summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Sudan blocks civil society participation in UN-led human rights review

(31 March 2016) The efforts of the Government of Sudan to obstruct the engagement of civil society activists in a United Nations (UN)-led human rights review of the country is unacceptable and shows blatant contempt not just for human rights defenders in Sudan, but to human rights standards and the UN Human Rights Council, 36 Sudanese and international groups and seven prominent Sudanese individuals said today.

Read the full statement here.