Posts Tagged ‘Darfur’

George Clooney speaks out on sexual violence in Darfur

February 26, 2015

Getty Images

Whatever your opinion of George Clooney as an actor, there is no doubt that he is one of the most willing to use his celebrity for human rights causes. The latest example is his Op-Ed piece in the The New York Times, entitled, “George Clooney on Sudan’s Rape of Darfur” (together with John Prendergast and Akshaya Kumar, published on 25 February 2015)  .

Because Sudan’s government routinely blocks journalists from going into the Darfur region and severely restricts access for humanitarian workers, any window into life there is limited,” Clooney says. “The government has hammered the joint peacekeeping mission of the United Nations and African Union into silence about human rights concerns by shutting down the United Nations human rights office in the capital, Khartoum, hampering investigators of alleged human rights abuses and pressuring the peacekeeping force to withdraw.

The 53-year-old actor then explains the evidence that has been received from citizen journalists and local human rights defenders with that videos have been smuggled out.

Read the complete piece here.

Human Rights Defenders from York: Hikma Rabih, Sudan

January 26, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

In York, Hikma can wear jeans – something she’d never be able to do in her own country. “Sudan is a very patriarchal society,” the 33-year-old human rights lawyer says. “Women cannot wear trousers, and I cannot go out in public without a scarf on my head. I want to wear my trousers.

Born in North Darfur, she graduated with a law degree from Elnileen University in Khartoum in 2002, then started work as a protection officer at a refugee camp in South Darfur for civil war victims. In 2009, her organisation was closed down by the government.

York Press:
Hikma Rabih

Undeterred, in 2011 she set up a legal aid centre in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Her organisation provides legal aid and representation for women who would otherwise have no chance of getting justice. Because of strict adultery laws, women who have sex outside marriage face 100 lashes, she says: married women who commit adultery can be stoned. If a woman is raped, but fails to prove it in court, she can be given 100 lashes as an adulteress. “The men always go free,” Hikma says.

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

13 NGOs urge Human Rights Council to stay focused on Sudan

September 19, 2013

(Sudanese IDPs – (c) AI private)

In a long letter to the UN Human Rights Council now in session a group of 13 NGOs urges the Council to continue monitoring Sudan.  The letter has two main chapters on:

Conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile, ………and

Repression of Civil and Political Rights……….

The letter ends with urging the Human Rights Council to:

  • condemn the human rights violations in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as the government’s continued use of indiscriminate bombing in all three states, attacks on civilians, and other abuses by government forces and allied militia;
  • establish an independent investigation into ongoing human rights violations in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, and report back to the Human Rights Council promptly;
  • urge Sudan to grant humanitarian agencies access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, in compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law obligations;
  • express concern over the continued restrictions of basic civil and political rights, and the continued harassment of critics of the government, including the practice of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, preventing meaningful public dialogue on critical issues at a time when Sudan is preparing to adopt a new constitution and for national elections in 2015;
  • urge Sudan to reform its repressive National Security Act of 2010 and other laws granting immunity to officials, seriously investigate allegations of human rights violations and hold perpetrators to account;
  • renew the special procedure country mandate on Sudan for at least three years under Item 4 with a clear mandate to monitor and report twice a year to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on violations of human rights in all parts of Sudan.

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Earlier on AI’s Global Blog, Khairunissa Dhala, Researcher on Sudan/South Sudan team at Amnesty International has answered her own question: “Does the human rights situation in Sudan still require a UN-mandated Independent Expert to monitor and report back on developments?” as follows: “Given Sudan’s dire human rights situation – ongoing armed conflicts in three different states, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders and activists – it is hard to imagine that there is even a question on whether this is needed. But we’ve been here before.  

Two years ago, I attended the HRC’s 18th session where members of the Council reached a “compromise” on human rights monitoring in Sudan. It was a “compromise” because, while the Independent Expert’s mandate was renewed, it solely focused on providing technical assistance and capacity-building support to the national authorities. In other words, the Independent Expert would no longer be asked to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan. [….]Compromising on the Independent Expert’s mandate was seen as a concession to Sudan by the international community. A concession given to a country where widespread and systematic violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law are taking place.

But there should be no compromise on human rights. Since then, the Independent Expert’s mandate has successively been renewed to provide technical assistance, while the awful human rights situation in Sudan calls for a clear need for monitoring.. Conflict remains ongoing in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, to the detriment of the civilian population. Over the past two years I have interviewed numerous men, women and children from these two states. They have shared harrowing accounts of how their loved ones were killed when bombs dropped by Antonov aircrafts, from high altitudes, by the Sudanese Armed Forces, landed on their homes. Coupled with ground attacks by Sudanese forces and the armed opposition group the SPLA-N, this conflict has led to more than 200,000 people fleeing to refugee camps in South Sudan and Ethiopia, in addition to the tens of thousands of internally displaced people in the two areas. The Sudanese authorities are still denying unhindered humanitarian access to all affected areas. Meanwhile, in Sudan’s Darfur state, a decade after the start of the armed conflict, the crisis is ongoing and violence has again intensified. This year alone, more than 300,000 people were forced to leave their homes behind, fleeing violent clashes between predominantly ethnic Arab groups.

Across Sudan, freedom of expression, association and assembly also remain restricted. Journalists and activists face constant harassment, arbitrary arrests, as well as torture and other forms of ill-treatment by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service. Given the critical human rights situation, any compromise on the Independent Expert’s mandate is an abdication of the Human Right Council’s duty to promote and protect human rights in Sudan…..The Independent Expert should have their mandate strengthened to monitor Sudan’s human rights situation under item 4 (Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention) and report twice a year to the Council and the UN General Assembly on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law taking place anywhere in the country.”

Read more:

Sudan: Letter to the UNHRC regarding the renewal and strengthening of the special procedure mandate on the situation of human rights in Sudan

Why monitoring human rights in Sudan still matters | Amnestys global human rights blog.