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2014 | REDRESS Report - Sudan's human rights crisis

This Report addresses the failure of the State of Sudan to undertake the legislative and institutional reforms envisaged in the 2005 Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement and the Government of Sudan. It describes the crisis as being ‘rooted in the marginalisation of people that do not form part of the ruling riverine elites, the discrimination of minorities, and the lack of a system and institutions ensuring equal citizenship and respect for rights'.

The laws adopted by the Sudanese government in recent years contain a number of features which facilitate human rights violations and are detrimental to accountability. Important reforms, in particular in relation to women's rights were discussed, but not carried out. Sudan has also refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Court notwithstanding its obligations under the governing UN Security Council resolution 1593 (2005). Furthermore, neither the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee from 2007 nor those of the African Union High Level Panel on Darfur from 2009 have been acted upon by government officials.

As a result the existing criminal justice system of Sudan still does not allow to hold the perpetrators of serious human rights violations accountable. Nor does it provide reparations to victims. Of particular concern are the provisions in the State’s laws that grant immunity to the members of the National Intelligence and Security Forces (NISS) and the absence of effective modalities for lodging complaints before the authorities in the case of detention by the NISS. 

The position of women in Sudan from the legal perspective remains particularly weak. Certain laws, such as the 1991 Personal Status Law of Muslims result in the de jure discrimination of women by explicitly providing inferior rights for women to those of men. The 1991 Criminal Code is discriminatory not by its language but in its implementation. Its Public Order provisions being targeted much more often at women than at men. The legal system of Sudan also fails to ensure the adequate protection of women who became the victims of sexual crimes.

Recourse to supra-State fora becomes the only possible way of obtaining recognition and reparations in this situation. The report follows the progress of a number of cases brought before the African Commission, and cites the Commission’s finding, on more than one occasion, that the exhaustion of local remedies requirement can have no legitimacy when the State’s own legal system manifestly fails to safeguard recourse to the justice system, fair trial rights and equality before the law in respect of perpetrators as well as victims.