Sudan: North-South peace deal signed, but what about human rights?

Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme, said:

“We hope that the peace will usher in a new era for the people of Sudan. But human rights need more than rhetorical declarations.

“A major cause of the conflict has been injustice and discrimination against millions of ordinary Sudanese people. Unless these basic human rights concerns are addressed there will be no lasting peace.”

The Sudanese government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and the international peace mediators (Kenya, the UK, the US, Norway and the UN) must ensure the following concerns are addressed when the peace agreement is signed:

  • Respect for human rights must be made real, not a mere paper commitment

    The series of protocols that make up the peace deal guarantee human rights protection. However, the rights to life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, assembly and religion and the right not to be tortured or ill-treated are frequently abused in many parts of Sudan, including Darfur.

    A timetable of concrete measures for respecting and protecting rights must be developed as a matter of urgency.

  • The National Constitutional Review Commission must be qualified and independent

    A National Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) is due to draft an Interim National Constitution for Sudan within the next six weeks.

    Amnesty International is concerned that there are inadequate provisions for the participation of civil society, including Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, and of independent human rights and legal experts from all parts of Sudan.

    All parties must ensure that members of commissions such as the NCRC and the proposed Human Rights Commission and Civil Service Commission are independent and impartial.

  • Security legislation must conform with international human rights law

    The state of emergency in Sudan currently allows the Sudanese authorities to ban meetings and break up peaceful demonstrations.

    The National Security Forces Act passed under the state of emergency allows prolonged incommunicado detention without charge and allows immunity to the security forces for violations of human rights. When the peace deal is signed security legislation should be reformed, and political detainees held without charge brought to fair trial or released.

  • There must be no impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity

    The peace deal allows for a new government, drawn from officials of the current government and the SPLM/A.

    Both sides have been responsible for appalling human rights violations in the conflict in the South, including unlawful killings of civilians, abductions, rapes, torture and forced displacement.

    The government and its militias have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, such as forced displacement and large-scale rape, including since 2003 in Darfur, western Sudan.

    Such crimes committed by all sides must be investigated and those responsible for gross human rights violations must be brought to justice.

    The fate of thousands of people “disappeared” in the context of the civil war in South Sudan must be clarified.

    Whilst perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to justice the parties should also consider complementary mechanisms, such as a form of truth and reconciliation commission, that may play a role in ensuring that the traumas caused by past injustices are addressed.

Background

Two final protocols, the Agreement on Implementation Modalities of the Protocols and Agreements, and the Agreement on the Final Ceasefire and Security Arrangements were signed on 31 December 2004.

These protocols, together with six others, including the Machakos Protocol, signed in July 2002, protocols on security, power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and on the marginalised areas of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan (the Nuba Mountains) and of Abyei, will make up the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which is to be signed on 9 January 2005.

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