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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Sudan, U.N. Doc. A/49/18, paras. 444-478 (1994).





Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


444. In concluding observations adopted on the consideration of the eighth periodic report of the Sudan (CERD/C/222/Add.1), the Committee requested, in accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, further information on the implementation of the Convention in the Sudan. The Committee subsequently considered that information (CERD/C/222/Add.2) at its 1052nd and 1053rd meetings, on 8 and 9 August 1994 (see CERD/C/SR.1052 and 1053).

445. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party, who emphasized the importance attached by his country to the continued dialogue with the Committee.

446. The representative said that the conflict in the south of the country was not racially motivated and that the Sudan was not an arena for acts of racial discrimination. He noted, however, that the country's wealth was not equitably distributed among the various regions, a phenomenon which dated from the colonial era and which the current Government was trying to remedy by, among other measures, adopting constitutional decrees. Decree No. 10 of October 1993 had divided the Sudan into 26 states. Ten states had been created in the south - although on the basis of the size of its population, it should have comprised only seven states - which gave a greater voice to the minorities living there. Decree No. 7 embodied the human rights of all citizens, rights which were now part of the Constitution. By Decrees No. 8 and No. 9, the Revolutionary Council for National Salvation had, prior to its dissolution, appointed a President of the Republic who would subsequently be elected by universal suffrage. At the same time, a Transitional National Assembly had been set up, together with the State Councils. The elections deriving from those constitutional changes, which had initially been scheduled for March 1994, would be held in March 1995.

447. He also said that a number of corridors had been opened up to enable relief supplies to reach populations living in the war zones and that, at the urging of countries in the region (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda), the Sudan had proclaimed a unilateral cease-fire, which the rebels had also observed. A programme for the resettlement of populations displaced by natural disasters and the armed conflicts had been set up by the Government.

448. He noted that the Sudan had opened its doors to many non-governmental organizations and to the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

449. The members of the Committee noted with appreciation the statement in the report that the Sudan was a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural society. They thanked the delegation of the Sudan for having come to provide the additional information requested by the Committee during its consideration of the Sudan's eighth periodic report and expressed their satisfaction with the information. They welcomed the Government's intention to ask for technical assistance under the advisory services programme of the Centre for Human Rights in preparing its next periodic report.

450. With regard to article 2 of the Convention, the members of the Committee asked what powers were conferred on the Transitional National Assembly, on what basis the 10 states in the south of the country had been established and whether the population had had any voice in the drawing of their boundaries. They also asked to what extent citizens actually benefited from the new constitutional and legislative provisions. They also wanted to know about the nature and legal force of the document on human rights issued by the National Assembly. They asked how the Government intended to comply with its obligations under the Convention if it was unable to amend a law based on the Koran, as referred to in paragraph 26 of the report, if that law were contrary to the provisions of the Convention.

451. With regard to article 5 of the Convention, the members of the Committee asked for information on internally displaced Sudanese and those who were refugees in Uganda, Kenya, Zaire, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic, and on the measures taken to encourage them to return. The Committee also asked how the resettlement of displaced populations was progressing, particularly in the Nuba Mountains, and whether the resettled populations were actually the ones which had been displaced.

452. They asked for explanations on the numerous allegations of torture, whether practised by members of government security forces or not, and on judicial sentences involving corporal punishment (amputation and flogging). They also asked to what extent it was the courts alone which decided to keep an individual in detention for more than 24 or 48 hours.

453. The members of the Committee inquired whether the Shariah was applied in the non-Muslim states in the south of the country. They noted that religious and ethnic discrimination was practised against displaced non-Muslim populations in the north, and throughout the country in the civil service, schools, universities and commercial enterprises.

454. The Committee wished to know more about the privatization of newspapers and the establishment of private newspapers as recommended by the new press code. They also asked to what extent freedom of association and peaceful assembly were guaranteed.

455. Regarding article 6 of the Convention, the members of the Committee asked for clarifications on the independence of the judiciary, as referred to in paragraph 12 of the report, particularly as far as the procedures for appointing and removing judges and their training were concerned.

456. Replying to the questions and comments of members of the Committee, the representative of the Sudan said that the federal legislative powers had been transferred to the Transitional National Assembly upon the dissolution of the Revolutionary Council for National Salvation. The Transitional National Assembly had been set up pending the elections scheduled for 1995. He went on to say that the document on human rights issued by the Transitional National Assembly had legal status by virtue of Constitutional Decree No. 7, which embodied all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

457. With regard to the equitable distribution of wealth among the country's regions, he said that each of the 26 states into which the Sudan was now divided had its own resources derived from local taxes and federal sources. The relative powers of the states and the central Government were set out in articles 8, 9 and 10 of Constitutional Decree No. 4. Each southern state had a governor of southern origin, and six ministers, five of southern origin and one from the north. The reverse was true in the north of the country. The task of drawing the borders of the new states in the south had been entrusted to a committee made up of prominent persons from each province, which had spent six months in consultation with the local inhabitants, who had welcomed the results of the committee's work.

458. Replying to the question on the compatibility of Islamic law with international instruments, he said that there was no essential contradiction between the two.

459. On the question of refugees, he said that the majority of those who had fled the fighting in the south had sought refuge in the north of the country and not in neighbouring countries. The 250,000 Sudanese in neighbouring countries were either rebels who had not accepted the general amnesty or persons situated beyond the rebel lines and who could not therefore seek refuge in northern Sudan.

460. He said that preventive detention was governed by the National Security Act and that initially it had not been subject to any judicial review. The National Security Act had subsequently been placed under the supervision of the Minister of Justice, and thus of the judiciary. Furthermore, preventive detention could not exceed 72 hours and could be extended only with judicial approval. There were many safeguards against improper or unlawful detention.

461. With reference to the situation in the Nuba Mountains, he quoted from a report by the Foreign Minister of a western country following a visit to refugee camps and villages in the region, which stated that the situation had improved in terms of water, food and medical supplies, the mortality rate, aid from Sudanese Christian and Muslim organizations and security. People were reported to be gradually returning to the deserted villages. Talks with representatives of two Churches had shown that the problems of the past, such as restrictions on freedom of movement and arrests of priests, had ceased. Sudanese nationals also had the right to change religion. Apostasy was a separate issue.

462. Abuses committed by members of the security forces were punishable under articles 89 and 90 of the Penal Code. Information relating to the trials of security and police officers had been made available to the Commission on Human Rights and could be supplied to the Committee. In some cases, the trials in question had led to the imposition of the death penalty.

463. Referring to questions on the independence of the judiciary, he said that, under article 7 of Constitutional Decree No. 1, the judiciary had the same status as before the assumption of power by the new Government. The appointment and removal of judges and magistrates were provided for in the 1986 Act concerning the judiciary.

Concluding observations

464. At its 1068th meeting, on 18 August 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

465. Appreciation is expressed to the State party for the further information it submitted as requested by the Committee (A/48/18, para. 127) and for the presence of a competent delegation which presented that information to the Committee. It is regretted that the findings of the commission of inquiry appointed on 26 November 1992 are still not available for the Committee's consideration. Although the report focused primarily on legislative changes and contained little information on the actual implementation of legal guarantees recently enacted, the responses of the delegation provided much useful information on the situation in the Sudan, including the impact of the legislative and policy-making changes on Sudanese society. Appreciation is also expressed for the frankness of the delegation's responses to the questions and comments of the Committee members and the spirit of cooperation exhibited by the State party.

(b) Positive aspects

466. The State party's characterization of Sudanese society as multiracial, multireligious and multicultural is welcomed. In that regard, it appears that the State party has begun building the legislative structure and institutions necessary for implementing a policy of non-discrimination and for breaking down the barriers that have historically limited contacts between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

467. The declaration of the representative concerning the preeminence of the rule of law in the Sudan is welcomed. In this connection, it is noted that the promulgation of Constitutional Decree 789 represents progress in areas such as participation in Government and contains limited guarantees for freedom of religion, equality before the law and other basic rights and fundamental freedoms.

468. It is noted that major efforts appear to have been made regarding the search for solutions to the problems arising from the continuing ethnic conflict in the southern part of the country. In that connection, the changes in arrangements for a more equitable sharing of power among federal, state and local authorities are welcomed.

469. The State party's request for assistance from the Advisory Services and Technical Assistance Programme of the Centre for Human Rights is also welcomed.

(c) Principal subjects of concern

470. It is unclear whether racial discrimination has been defined in national law and whether racist activities, organizations and propaganda have been criminalized as required under the Convention.

471. Further to the Committee's concluding observations adopted at its forty-second session, concern continues regarding the dichotomy between legal provisions and their actual application. In this respect more demographic information is needed, particularly the results of the 1993 census. It is noted that continuing social and economic disparities between the northern and southern populations may constitute de facto discrimination and obstacles to the resolution of the ongoing conflict.

472. While taking note that the Sudan has received many refugees from other countries, the Committee expresses its deep concern over the large number of Sudanese who have become homeless as a result of the continuing conflict and who remain either internally displaced or as refugees living outside the country.

473. Concern is expressed over the application of legal guarantees in actual practice to prevent racial discrimination with respect to a number of fundamental freedoms, including the right to choose and to change one's religion. Concern is also expressed concerning the effective curtailment of police powers and concerning the independence of the judiciary, including conditions pertaining to the appointment, training and dismissal of magistrates.

(d) Suggestions and recommendations

474. The Committee recommends that the State party take further steps to strengthen respect for human rights and non-discrimination in the Sudan, particularly by clearly defining and prohibiting racial discrimination in the law as well as penalizing racist activities, organizations and propaganda as required under article 4 of the Convention.

475. The Committee recommends that the Government of the Sudan continue to take measures aimed at building confidence between the Arab and non-Arab communities and ensure that there are no legal barriers contributing to the separation of the two communities.

476. The Committee expresses its support for all efforts to end the continuing conflict with the aim of restoring the rule of law and respect for human rights, particularly with regard to the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. In that connection, the Committee recommends that concrete steps be taken to encourage the voluntary return of all refugees and persons displaced in the conflict.

477. Underlining the crucial area of the administration of justice with regard to eliminating racial discrimination, the Committee recommends that police power be curtailed and that judges decide on the legality of detainment within reasonable time after arrest or taking into custody of a suspect. In this connection, the Committee points out that the State is obligated to ensure that law enforcement officials are fully responsible for adhering to the requirements of the Convention and that excesses of the security forces must be punished.

478. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to the amendment to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, which was approved by the fifteenth meeting of States parties and by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111, and encourages the State party to expedite its action formally to accept that amendment.



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