Is the Government of Sudan abiding by its human rights commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005 and other regional and international agreements? This report by Amnesty International catalogues a plethora of human rights abuses in Sudan.
In 2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, ending over 20 years of war between north and south Sudan. A pillar of the CPA is a vision of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) as an intelligence gathering and advisory agency. Amnesty International and other international and national organisations repeatedly called for reform of the 1999 National Security Act. In 2009 the National Assembly passed a new National Security Act (NSA), which came into force in February 2010. However, the new Act maintains the NISS’ extensive powers of arrest, detention and immunity from prosecution and disciplinary action that were given to it under the earlier Act. As a result, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions are still used to silence dissent. Continuing abuses include:
- Arbitrary detention and torture in secret locations – ‘ghost houses’ – despite government claims that ghost houses have been closed down.
- The systematic use of torture including threats against and harassment of dissidents’ families and the torture of children. Abuses are worse against southern Sudanese.
- A Public Order regime that is discriminatory against women. Further, the shame generated by it is used as a weapon of control, abuse and political manipulation. It is used in coordination with the NISS or directly by the NISS itself.
- The use in trials of evidence extracted under torture. Between May 2008 and June 2010 Amnesty recorded more than 120 death sentences that depended on evidence extracted by torture.
- The inability of survivors of torture to seek redress through the justice system, because NISS officials have immunity from prosecution.
- A clampdown on dissidents following the International Criminal Court’s March 2009 decision to issue a warrant of arrest against President Bashir. Thirteen international NGOs have also been expelled.
The NSA 2010 remains faithful to the government’s vision of a national security force whose function is to maintain it in power. The legacy of human rights violations and impunity brought about by the Bashir government in the 1990s continues in Sudan today. The country is still ruled by the National Congress Party (NCP) created in 1993, and the NISS retains the core functions it had in the first years following the 1989 coup. Without substantive changes in Sudan’s national security laws and practices, the situation of human rights will not improve. As long as the powers and immunity of the NISS are maintained there is no hope of an end to arbitrary arrests, secret detention, torture, and deaths in custody. Therefore:
- The government of Sudan must repeal the NSA 2010, ensure legislative and institutional reform of the NISS to bring its operations into line with international human rights standards, and establish judicial oversight.
- The international community including the UN, African Union, League of Arab States and the European Union must apply pressure and call on Sudan to end human rights violations, in particular at the hands of the NISS.
- The EU must implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders to give greater protection for the work of human rights defenders in Sudan.