International civil society puts pressure on Sudanese authorities to respect human rights

Association

Ahead of an EU-Africa Summit held on 29 to 30th November 2017 in Khartoum, a senior Sudanese diplomat is reported to have said

“Khartoum is strongly seeking to improve the human rights situation due to its impact on Sudan’s foreign relations”.

Despite Sudan being state-party to international commitments on civic freedoms, as covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, the situation on the ground has yet to improve. The environment for independent civil society groups, human rights defenders and media outlets remains severely restricted by the Sudanese authorities. As covered in Sudan's previous update on the CIVICUS Monitor, the latest report by UN Independent Expert Aristide Nononsi sheds light on the human rights situation, citing reports of harassment, arrests and prolonged detention of civil society representatives. 

In addition to the international pressure on Sudanese authorities to improve respect for civic freedoms, on 21st September 2017 Human Rights Watch issued a letter to the UN Human Rights Council with 21 signatories from civil society detailing the worsening conditions for civil and political rights as well as crackdowns on protesters, human rights defenders, journalists and religious minorities. The joint letter urged Sudanese authorities to address the dire human rights situation. 

As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, the unjustified detention of HRDs such as Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam have become emblematic of the situation for Sudanese civil society groups. In a glimmer of hope, on 29th August 2017 Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, Hafiz Idris, Tasneem Taha Zaki, Abdel-mukhles Yousef Ali, Abdelhakim Noor, and Mubarak Adam Abdullah were issued a presidential pardon in Khartoum after spending more than eight months in detention. All six activists were originally detained and charged as a result of their human rights promotion. 

Expression

On 14th October 2017, Al-Jarida newspaper was confiscated and removed from circulation by Sudanese authorities after an opinion article by journalist Al-Fatih Jabra was published in the previous issue. The Arab Network for Crisis Information issued a statement condemning the confiscation, noting that:

"Sudan has been following the list of the worst countries on the level of press freedoms due to the repression practiced by the Sudanese authorities by restricting newspapers and journalists by confiscating and preventing the opinion writers from writing, prosecuting journalists and writers, calling them, threatening them, intimidating them and influencing their professional positions".

As previously featured on the CIVICUS Monitor, the confiscation of newspapers by Sudanese authorities is viewed as an attempt to financially disable media outlets in Sudan. In light of increasing self-censorship, the Network reiterated calls on the Sudanese government to uphold international and constitutional commitments to freedom of expression.

Finally, in October a report by the Sudan Democracy First Group entitled "Out of Coverage: Politics, Corruption and Lack of Transparency in the Telecommunication Sector in Sudan" highlighted the persistent problem of corruption in Sudan's telecommunication sector. In particular, the report documented the constant political intervention that engenders an environment of corruption, while also citing cases of attempts to silence media workers' unions. These and others represent key obstacles to eliminating corruption in the telecommunications sector in Sudan.