COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
100. The Committee considered
the eighth periodic report of the Sudan (CERD/C/222/Add.1) at its
968th, 970th, 971st and 983rd meetings, held on 9, 10 and 18 March
1993 (see CERD/C/SR.968, 970, 971 and 983).
101. The report was
introduced by the representative of the State party, who said that
the Government of the Sudan attached considerable importance to
the work of the Committee, the ultimate objective of which was the
welfare of the Sudanese population. The previous Government, however,
had not fulfilled its obligations to report under the various human
rights treaties to which it was a party. A series of reports had
since been prepared as quickly as possible in order to re-establish
cooperation with the treaty bodies concerned.
Members of the Committee welcomed the willingness demonstrated
by the State party
to engage in self-criticism and undertake a dialogue with the
Committee. Noting, however, that the Sudan had a multiracial
society, members of the Committee regretted that the report did
not contain information on the demographic composition of the
as requested in General Recommendation IV of the Committee, nor
did the report mention the most important subgroups of the
Nile. It would be appreciated if the demographic composition
were provided in the next report in tabular form. Members also
information on the number of refugees and foreign students in
the Sudan. In view of the campaign in the 1980s to eliminate
tribal languages and establish a monocultural Islamic State,
members asked how many languages were recognized by the Government and whether
English was the principal language of the south.
It was noted that the Convention was no longer respected constitutionally,
or administratively and that the General Assembly, in its resolution
47/142, had called upon the Government of the Sudan to comply
applicable human rights instruments and to ensure that all individuals
in its territory, including members of all religious and ethnic
groups, enjoyed the rights recognized in those instruments.
were various reports from United Nations bodies, international
non-governmental organizations and the media of ill-treatment
of the population by
security forces, including arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial
executions, disappearances and forced detentions, and ethnic
in southern Sudan. Further information was requested on how the
process of national integration mentioned in paragraph 29 of
report could be accelerated under conditions of armed conflict.
104. Members observed
that, since the suspension of the 1989 transitional constitution,
the National Salvation Revolutionary Command Council had been ruling
by decree, assigning special powers to the President. Since the
first decree had abolished existing legislative and political organs,
members wished to know how Sudan could implement the requirements
of the Convention without enacting special legislation. In that
connection, further information was requested on how the legislative,
executive and judicial functions were structured.
105. Members recalled
that article 4 of the Convention obligated States to introduce legislation
to prevent acts of racial discrimination, and wished to know how
that obligation was met.
106. Since the conflict
appeared to have an ethnic component and religious questions sometimes
overlapped with ethnic questions, members expressed concern about
possible ethnic discrimination in the exercise of the rights referred
to in article 5.
107. They noted reports
that hundreds of Nuba and Fur villages had been razed and their
inhabitants driven from the land in a vast programme of ethnic cleansing.
In that connection, it had been reported that tens of thousands
of people were being moved each month from the Nuba mountains and
that the women were being used for mixed marriages or sold into
slavery in the north. It would thus appear that article 5, paragraphs
(d) (i), (iv) and (v) of the Convention were not being respected.
108. Concerning article
5 (b) of the Convention, providing for non-discrimination in the
exercise of the rights of security of person and State protection,
members of the Committee noted reports alleging mass killings and
extrajudicial executions of civilians in the Nuba mountains, where
the Government's programme of military action appeared to amount
to ethnic cleansing. There had been similar reports of human rights
violations by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army. In that regard,
members stressed the importance of the right to life and noted that
the offenses to which the death penalty applied were not clearly
defined in Sudanese legislation. It was hoped that the Government
would investigate reports of violations of the human rights of ethnic
groups and bring those responsible to justice.
109. In relation to
the effective implementation of article 5 (c) of the Convention,
providing for non-discrimination in the right to take part in the
Government as well as in the conduct of public affairs, members
requested further information on the National Dialogue Conference
of 1989. In that connection, members wished to know how the Government
intended to allow groups to coexist within the federal system established
by Decree No. 4 in response to demands from the south. Attempts
to Islamicize the country by introducing Shariah appeared to go
back on earlier agreements. Members also wished to know how it could
be asserted that almost all shades of political opinion were represented
in the Assembly when political parties had been banned and the legislature
With respect to article 5 (d) (iv) of the Convention, members
drew attention to
the reference in paragraph 50 of the report to a non-Muslim wishing
to marry the daughter of a Muslim being required to convert
It was also noted with concern that the rights to non-discrimination
in exercise of the freedoms of thought, conscience and religion,
and opinion, provided for under article 5 (d) (vii) and (viii)
the Convention, might have been flouted and that the offence
of apostasy carried the death penalty. The right to freedom
assembly and association had been denied since the declaration
of the state of emergency. Similarly, trade unions had been
and their leaders imprisoned, which would be contrary to article
5 (e) (ii) of the Convention if there was an ethnic bias. With
to article 5 (e) (iii), members wished to know what the Government
had done to rehabilitate the homeless, particularly homeless
111. Concerning the
right to non-discrimination in education (article 5 (e) (v) of the
Convention), members asked what the minimum and maximum ages for
compulsory education were; whether the educational system was the
same in the north as in the south; whether children in school could
be taught in local languages; and what problems were created for
children as a result of forced migration from the south to the north.
112. In regard to the
comments of the representative of the International Labour Organisation
on the implementation of the ILO Convention concerning the Abolition
of Forced Labour (No. 105) by Sudan and taking into account the
allegations of slavery made before the Working Group on Contemporary
Forms of Slavery, members requested further information on action
being taken by the Government in that regard, in particular with
respect to the problem of the illicit transfer of children.
With respect to article 6 of the Convention, members of the
Committee wished to
know how the Penal Code was applied in practice in cases of racial
discrimination; whether it contained penalties for acts of
discrimination; whether the Convention could be invoked in a
court; how legal proceedings alleging racial discrimination
could be brought;
and what remedy was available to victims of racial discrimination.
In regard to the independence of the judicial system, members
the Committee expressed concern over reports that judges not
considered sympathetic to the regime had been replaced. With
respect to the
special criminal courts, members of the Committee wished to know
under what circumstances those courts were established; what
the laws governing them; and whether they were empowered to apply
114. In relation to
article 7 of the Convention, it was noted that the replies provided
in the report were not in conformity with the provisions of the
Convention and the Government was requested to provide a proper
reply in its next report.
115. In his reply, the
representative of the State party welcomed the questions and observations
of the members of the Committee. They would help the Government,
which was resolutely determined to give the highest importance to
human rights and to improve its implementation of the Convention.
Responding to the questions, the representative stated that
the National Dialogue
Conference had formally recognized the legitimate rights of the
population of the south. The Government had acknowledged that
south was economically backward in comparison with the north
and an agency had been established to promote the development
south. In the political sphere, the Government had set up a federal
system of government under which resources and positions of
were to be equally distributed. The Government had given considerable
weight to the recommendations of the Conference, particularly
concerning linguistic and religious minorities. In that connection,
the Government had decided that Shariah would not be applied
the south, where the inhabitants were of a different culture.
Additionally, the Government was willing to accept some kind of power-sharing
arrangement with the three rival factions representing the rebel
movement in Sudan, possibly taking the form of a federal structure.
117. As far as relations
between the executive, legislative and judicial branches were concerned,
the judiciary was independent and still governed by a 1986 law.
The legislative and executive powers had initially both been exercised
by the Council of the Revolution. In order to terminate the monopoly
of both branches of authority, it had been decided to entrust legislative
authority to the Supreme Transition Council, composed of over 300
individuals representing the country's different provinces and population
groups. In recently held local elections, 1,600 municipal councillors
had been elected by some 5.3 million voters. Those developments
testified to the Government's determination to proceed towards democracy.
118. In response to
questions raised by members, the representative stated that, although
flogging was indeed a form of punishment, it had not been instituted
by the 1991 Muslim Personal Law but by the Penal Code promulgated
by the British in 1898. It was considered to be one of the best
forms of punishment, not from a religious perspective but from that
of modern criminology. Apostasy was not itself punishable and any
Muslim could convert to Christianity. What was punishable under
the Penal Code was incitement to apostasy, which could constitute
a threat to peace and public order.
With regard to the allegations of torture and arbitrary trials
and arrests, reference
was made to the conclusions of an independent expert appointed
by the United Nations whom the representative of the State
his capacity as Secretary-General of the Sudanese Commission
on Human Rights, had accompanied during his visit to Sudan.
occasion, the expert had been able to ascertain that those allegations
had never been reliably attested to. He had been able to meet
someone who, according to Amnesty International and Africa Watch,
had allegedly been tortured and had died. Other persons who
allegedly been arbitrarily arrested or tried had either been
acquitted or convicted of written charges of which they had
Moreover, the expert had ascertained that conditions under which
prisoners were incarcerated were normal.
120. In reply to another
question, the representative said that racial and religious discrimination
was an offence under Sudanese statutory and case law. Furthermore,
well before independence the international instruments to which
the Sudan had acceded had been part of domestic law, over which
they took precedence. International standards condemning racial
discrimination and torture were fully respected in the Sudan. Convictions
for racial discrimination could be punished by imprisonment for
up to two years, a fine or both.
121. With regard to
the percentage of non-Arabs in the armed forces and the proportion
of southern and northern Sudanese in them, the representative assured
the Committee that there were far more non-Arabs than Arabs in the
armed forces. Membership in the popular defence forces did not depend
on religious considerations.
122. On the question
of language, Arabic was undoubtedly the language of most Sudanese.
However, it was the official language not for that reason, but because
it was the language employed by all 500 tribes in the Sudan. English,
which was the language of the elite, had preserved its important
position within Sudanese society. Allegations of forced Arabization
of the country were proved untrue by the fact that for the 1974
Interpretation of Laws and General Clauses the English version was
the authentic version before Sudanese courts.
123. There had been
a question about the Government's alleged refusal to allow international
organizations to visit the Nuba mountains in the province of Kordofan.
In fact, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees had visited that area. The Government had not yet set
up a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in
the area, partly because it was waiting to see whether the Commission
on Human Rights would appoint a Special Rapporteur on the Sudan,
with whom the Government wished to cooperate fully. In that connection,
the representative cordially invited any members of the Committee
who were interested to visit the Sudan to observe the situation
on the spot.
124. The Committee expressed
appreciation for the willingness of the Government of the Sudan
to continue its dialogue with the Committee. The Committee expressed
its deep concern at the serious human rights violations in the Sudan.
It noted the statement of the representative that violations of
human rights had been occurring and, in view of the Committee's
anxieties, attached particular significance to the statement that
the Government was taking every step to prevent further occurrences.
125. The Committee regretted
the lack of information on the ethnic dimension to the current conflict
in the country and the insufficiency of demographic data requested
in the Committee's reporting guidelines and General Recommendation
IV. The Committee requested the Government to ensure the harmonization
of the national legislation, regulations and practices of the Sudan
with the provisions of the Convention, and their effective implementation.
126. The Committee took
note of the information supplied concerning Sudanese legislation,
but observed that there often appeared to be a disjunction between
those provisions and the manner of their implementation. It expressed
its concern about the situation in the Nuba mountains and that of
the Fur and wished to learn about the findings of the Commission
of Inquiry appointed on 25 November 1992.
127. In accordance with
article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, the Committee requested
further information as soon as possible but not later than 31 January
1994 from the Government of the Sudan concerning the implementation
of the Convention. The Committee drew the attention of the State
party to the availability of technical assistance from the advisory
services programme of the Centre for Human Rights with regard to
the preparation of its next report.