Human Rights and Democracy Report 2016 - CHAPTER VI: Human Rights Priority Countries - Sudan

There was no improvement in the human rights situation in Sudan during 2016. Fighting decreased in the conflict areas over the second half of 2016, thanks to unilateral ceasefires from the Government of Sudan and armed movements. However, there was intense fighting in early 2016 in Jebel Marra. This included aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces which left almost 98,000 civilians displaced, adding to the 2.5 million long-term displaced. The humanitarian situation remains dire, with 5.8 million people in need of assistance. The African Union/United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur continued to face access restrictions. We welcome the government’s issuing of new directives on humanitarian assistance and will work with partners to support full implementation.

We have seen further restrictions on freedom of expression. The government continued to confiscate newspaper runs. We remain concerned by arbitrary arrests and reports of torture and ill-treatment by the Sudanese authorities of political figures and human rights defenders, including Mudawi Ibrahim Adam who remains in detention. Restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and sexual and gender-based violence with impunity by both state and non-state armed forces, remain concerning.

In support of the Prime Minister’s global goal to end modern slavery, we will be working with the Government of Sudan to address the issue of forced labour and to help them meet commitments under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 8.7. According to the Global Slavery Index, Sudan has the sixth highest prevalence. This includes trafficking in persons, the use of children in armed conflict, and the abusive servitude of minority groups and migrant workers.

At Sudan’s Universal Periodic Review, the Government of Sudan rejected our recommendation regarding reform of the National Security Act which provides the National Intelligence and Security Services with immunity from prosecution. We urge full accountability for human rights violations.

Our 2016 human rights objectives were conflict resolution and humanitarian access, greater civil society and political freedoms, and tackling sexual and gender-based violence. We worked alongside international partners with the Government of Sudan and opposition groups to secure a breakthrough in the peace process, with both parties signing the African Union High Level Implementation Panel’s Roadmap Agreement.

In December, we condemned the detentions of political figures and called on the Government of Sudan to protect the right to freedom of expression in a joint statement with our Troika partners (the US and Norway), the EU and other international partners. We attended trials of individuals accused of crimes carrying the death penalty, including members of the human rights NGO TRACKs, and three Christian men accused of espionage.

Our project work promoted human rights, including bilateral and regional support for national efforts to end the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). We funded a project which provided legal and psychosocial support to victims of sexual violence.

On modern slavery issues, we developed projects to build the evidence base around onward migration, and to train the Sudanese judiciary on anti-trafficking law. We are funding the International Organisation for Migration’s Migrant Resource and Response Centre to support the recovery of victims of trafficking.

Internationally, we secured a mandate renewal for the Independent Expert at the UN Human Rights Council in September and urged the Government of Sudan to address the recommendations in his report.

In 2017, we will continue to push for conflict resolution and improved humanitarian access. Our human rights priorities will remain freedom of expression and civil society space, freedom of religion or belief, and tackling sexual and gender-based violence. We will also continue to support the Prime Minister’s global goal to end modern slavery.