Sudan: Amnesty Says Peace Accord Will Fail Without Human Rights Guarantees for Whole Nation

As Sudan marks the first anniversary of the signing of the Machakos Protocol, which paved the way for the current peace process, it is expected that the international mediators are to push for a final agreement to be signed by the end of this August.

The 45-page report, 'Sudan: Empty promises? Human rights violations in government-controlled areas' , calls on the international mediators: UK, US, Norway and Kenya, to ensure that a commitment to human rights for all Sudanese people is central to the final agreement. Although human rights were mentioned in the Machakos Protocol, the human rights organisation says they have not been fully addressed in the peace talks.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK said:

'To date, negotiations have been mainly about security, wealth-sharing and power-sharing arrangements. The situation outside the southern war zones of Sudan is not covered in the peace process and civil society groups are not allowed at the negotiating table.

People living in government controlled areas of Sudan are continuing to suffer human rights violations that have their roots in the same issues of discrimination and injustice that fuelled the war in the south. A final peace agreement should not only put an end to the war in the south, but also guarantee the basic human rights of all Sudanese people in law as well as in practice.'

The report, earlier submitted as a memorandum to the Sudanese government, details the continuing human rights violations committed by security forces in areas outside the south. For example, it sites an emerging conflict in the western region of Darfur, which the human rights organisation says illustrates the effects of the government's willingness to violate human rights when facing opposition.

Darfur has been the scene of attacks by armed groups on the settled people of that region. In February 2003 a group of Darfur farmers took up arms against the government because of what they perceived as the lack of government protection of their people and the marginalisation of the region.

The government reacted to the situation with incommunicado detention of community leaders and perceived government critics. Back in 2001 the government established special courts in Darfur to deal with murders, armed attacks and banditry. These courts have recently handed down death sentences and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments after grossly unfair trials.

In other areas, including the capital Khartoum, incommunicado detention of political opponents, students and ordinary citizens as well as torture by the security forces remain common. Journalists are subjected to restrictions imposed by the security forces and civil society activists are routinely arrested, arbitrarily detained and harassed. Students and internally displaced persons have been injured or killed as a result of the use of excessive force by the police and security forces.

Above all, the lack of judicial accountability of the security forces for any action they take, including acts of torture, is maintained in laws that are inconsistent with international human rights principles.

Kate Allen added:

'The Sudanese government has failed to stop or investigate abuses by its security forces outside the war-zone. Whilst human violations continue unabated in this way the seeds of renewed conflict will continue to be sown.'

Amnesty International is urging the Sudanese government to implement the report's recommendations to:

  • stop arresting, detaining or harassing political opponents and other civil society activists;
  • end all restrictions on press freedom;
  • allow independent investigations into reports of killings and torture by the security forces and bring the suspected perpetrators to justice;
  • repeal legislation that gives members of the security forces immunity from prosecution and allows them to detain people incommunicado without charge;
  • abolish provisions of the Special and Specialized Criminal Courts in Darfur which contravene international standards of fairness;
  • allow an independent and impartial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the worsening situation in Darfur and let human rights monitors into the region.

Background

The Machakos Protocol was signed on 20 July 2002 in Machakos, eastern Kenya, as a first step to end the 20-years old armed conflict in southern Sudan. Since then, peace talks between both parties to the conflict have continued, under the auspices of the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and international mediators - including Kenya, the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway.

Read the Report /p>

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