Sunday , February 18 2018

Sudan Human Rights Monitor Issue 25

The feature article of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) provides an analysis of recent government restrictions on the freedom of expression that have taken place concurrent to a call from the President  for political opposition parties to engage in a national dialogue process to be led by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). Since January 2014 the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has documented a renewed surge in restrictions on the freedom of expression and information imposed by the Government of Sudan (GoS). Over fifteen newspapers have been subjected to post-print censorship, including confiscation of printed editions from January – March 2014 by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), some multiple times. The crackdown has severely circumscribed the availability of independent information in Sudan and repression of material deemed by the NISS to be critical of the NCP. ACJPS has also noted an emergence of post-print censorship of traditionally pro-government media outlets. Interviews with newspaper editors and members of Sudan’s youth movements suggest that while the rationale for crackdown is not entirely clear, it reflects the actions of a divided and weak NCP seeking to control dialogue in advance of the 2015 national elections and constitutional review process. Traditionally pro-government newspapers have also been censored, indicating that the NCP is now seeking to control dialogue within its own membership and reign in internal dissent. The feature article also includes an overview of the “national dialogue” proposed by President Omar al Bashir in a speech in January 2014 that was largely criticised by prominent opposition party members for neglecting to include any concrete commitments for reform. On 1 April Bashir ordered the release of all political prisoners in the country and reiterated his commitment to a “national dialogue” and “safeguarding the freedom of expression of individuals and groups”. He also directed authorities to allow political parties to carry out their activities inside and outside their headquarters in accordance with national legislation, and for press freedoms to be enhanced to contribute to the national dialogue. This promising rhetoric was directly contradicted by actions taken by Sudanese authorities. Though a number of political detainees were released in the following days, others have subsequently been arrested, including the leader of the Umma Party, Sadiq Al Mahdi. The registration of the Sudanese Republican Party was rejected by the Political Parties Affairs Council. This issue of the SHRM also includes an overview of the case of a pregnant Ethiopian migrant woman who was found guilty of “indecent acts” under the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code after a viral video of her being raped by six men was distributed on the Whatsapp mobile telephone messaging network. The woman was prevented from filing a rape case by the police and Attorney General. Also included is an overview of mass displacement and conflict in North and South Darfur and continued talks between the Government of Sudan and the rebel Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement – North. The human rights monitoring report includes incidents documented by ACJPS from December 2013 – January 2014, including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention of detainees in North Darfur, public order violations, unfair trial, and the death penalty. In addition, ACJPS also monitored human trafficking and abductions, insecurity in Abyei and Darfur, and the suspension of humanitarian NGOs. ACJPS also documented aerial bombardment by the Sudanese Armed Forces in South Kordofan. Read the full Sudan Human Rights Monitor.