UN Human Rights Expert Mashood Adebayo Baderin has said he is encouraged by the relative improvement in the security situation in the Sudan, but dismayed by the clampdown on human rights and civil society activists in Khartoum.
“My initial observation is that while there has been some noteworthy progress towards the promotion and protection of human rights by the Government of the Sudan, significant challenges still remain to be addressed,” Prof. Baderin, the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan, said in statement to the press on Sunday, after a week-long visit to Sudan.
He called for the release or trial of opposition politicians, with reference to political party officials who have been detained for signing the controversial New Dawn Charter with the armed opposition Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) in Kampala, Uganda, and other political detainees.
Prof. Baderin said during his visit, he had talks with government and non-government officials in Khartoum and Darfur region, that he had raised with government and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officials the issue of those political detainees.
He said the authorities should either set them free or take them to court for trial.
The UN Expert said said despite his previous recommendations on the importance of the civil society organisations, the government, through NISS, clamped down on some of the organisations and prevented them from submitting a complaint to the Nation Human Rights Commission.
He described the action as a hindrance to the functioning of the Commission.
Prof. Baderin was referring to two primarily cultural and research organisations in Khartoum, which have recently been closed down by NISS.
The Independent Expert said he had met with officials of the Foreign and Justice Ministries, the National Assembly, human rights organisations, leaders of the opposition political parties, the National Council for Press and Publication, civil society organisations and UN officials in the Sudan.
Commenting on the situation in Darfur, the Expert said he had noticed relative improvement compared to the situation there during his previous visit, although he added that challenges there still remain to be addressed, particularly with regard to the judiciary and armed conflicts, with emphasis on frequent tribal clashes.
“On the situation in Darfur, my observation based on my discussions with UNAMID and other stake holders is that while the security and human rights situation remains dire, there has been some relative improvement over the years as a result of the good work of UNAMID, and other UN agencies working in collaboration with the State.
''The January 2013 Secretary General’s Report on UNAMID also indicates that there is relative decrease in the overall numbers of documented human rights violation,” he said.
He said he could not visit South Kordufan and the Blue Nile this time, but added that he would do so when he returns to the Sudan for his third mission in a few months’ time.