1. The Committee considered the initial report of the Sudan on the
implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (E/1990/5/Add.41) at its 38th to 41st meetings, held
on 21 and 22 August 2000, and adopted, at its 53rd meeting, held on
30 August 2000, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the initial report of
the Sudan, which has been prepared in conformity with the revised
reporting guidelines it has established. The Committee appreciates
the readiness of the State party to advance the date of the presentation
of its initial report, from November 2000 to August 2000, indicative
of the State party's willingness to cooperate with the Committee.
3. The Committee
also welcomes the written replies to its list of issues (E/C.12/Q/SUD/1)
and the constructive dialogue between the high-level delegation of
the Sudan and the Committee members.
4. The Committee
regrets, however, that some of the written and oral information given
by the State party was at times unsatisfactory.
B. Positive aspects
5. The Committee has taken due note of the expressed commitment of
the State party to respect and promote human rights and the rule of
law, and its expressed commitment to a process of democratization,
with a view to establishing a representative and accountable government,
reflecting the aspirations of the people of the Sudan, a point welcomed
by the Commission on Human Rights in paragraph 1 (h) of its resolution
6. The Committee
notes with interest that since the fact-finding mission by the Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the promotion and
protection of the freedom of opinion and expression in 1999 pursuant
to the invitation of the State party, there has been a broader degree
of freedom of expression, press and assembly, as acknowledged by competent
human rights sources, also facilitating the realization of economic,
social and cultural rights under the Covenant.
7. The Committee
also appreciates the willingness of the State party to cooperate with
the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR), for example by facilitating a needs assessment mission in
September 1999, and to explore further the ways in which more concrete
cooperation between the Office and the State party may take form,
such as the establishment of an OHCHR presence in the country.
8. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the proclamation of the Constitution of the
Sudan, providing for basic human rights and freedoms, which entered
into force on 1 July 1998, as well as the establishment of the Constitutional
Court in April 1999 and the creation of the Committee for the Eradication
of Abduction of Women in May 1999 with cooperation between the State
party and the international community and non-governmental organizations.
9. The Committee
welcomes the Peace Agreement of 1997 for the Sudan, particularly since
progress towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict in southern
Sudan will greatly contribute to the creation of a better environment
for the respect for human rights in the Sudan.
10. The Committee
also welcomes the establishment of the Sudan National Committee for
the Eradication of Harmful Practices, as well as the State party's
various measures to improve the status of women, to alleviate or remove
some of the obstacles to their freedom to travel, the Government's
active campaign against female genital mutilation and against early
marriage, the encouragement of child spacing, safe motherhood, women's
and children's rights and reproductive health, and measures to increase
the number of women working in government service.
11. The Committee
takes note of the statement by the delegation to the effect that the
revenues derived from oil exploration and exportation in southern
Sudan will be used for financing social development programmes.
12. The Committee
welcomes the State party's efforts in the field of education, in particular
the establishment of 16 new universities, located in each department
of the country, and the increased enrolment of women at all levels
13. The Committee
also acknowledges with appreciation the general unconditional amnesty
granted by the President in June 2000 to all government opponents,
inside and outside the Sudan.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the
14. The Committee
regrets that, despite the 1997 Peace Agreement, the continuation of
the war in southern Sudan is still adversely affecting the achievement
of conditions conducive to the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural
rights in the whole of the Sudan.
15. The Committee
also notes with regret that the current economic and financial difficulties
of the State party, particularly the problem of foreign debt, make
it more difficult to start the much-needed process of moving towards
modernization, democratization and the realization of human rights
for all. The Committee has noted that the foreign debt alone amounted
to over 22 billion United States dollars in 1998 and that, as a Least
Developed Country (LDC), the State party has insufficient resources
to meet its debt servicing obligations.
16. The factors
impeding the realization of economic, social and cultural rights include
the great size of the country, the lack of infrastructure, such as
a road network, hospitals and schools, the civil war in the south,
and the economic difficulties mentioned earlier, all of which have
exacerbated the difficulties preventing the State party from adequately
addressing the problem of widespread poverty.
D. Principal subjects of concern
17. The Committee
notes with concern that there is a lack of clarity as to the legal
status of the Covenant in the Sudanese domestic legal order, despite
the incorporation in the Constitution of some provisions concerning
economic, social and cultural rights, given the fact that there are
a number of laws which are applicable to the different components
of Sudanese society, such as the Islamic, Christian and other segments
18. The Committee
also notes with concern the apparent lack of clarity as to the precise
status of Islamic shariah, its applicability, and the confusion it
may lead to in cases where there may be a contradiction or discord
between the narrow interpretation of the tenets of Islamic shariah
and the provisions of statutory law.
the Constitutional provisions proclaiming the independence of the
judiciary, the Committee is concerned that the judiciary still lacks
the necessary degree of independence to guarantee the implementation
and protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
20. The Committee
expresses its deep concern over the considerable divergence in the
Sudan between the Constitutional provisions guaranteeing rights and
freedoms, on the one hand, and some of the legal provisions, as well
as traditional customs and practice, on the other hand. A flagrant
example is the societal and legal status of women in general, the
low degree of women's participation in public life and the provisions
in criminal and family law regarding equality in marital relations.
21. The Committee
regrets the lack of precise information and reliable comparable statistics,
which has hampered its full assessment of the progressive implementation
of the Covenant in the Sudan.
22. The Committee
is concerned about the continuing occurrence of abductions of women
and children on a large scale by different tribes.
the Committee is concerned about the fact that some restrictions on
the freedoms of religion, expression and association and peaceful
assembly still exist, thereby hampering the enjoyment of economic,
social and cultural rights by many Sudanese.
24. The Committee
is also gravely concerned about the occurrence of flagellation or
lashing of women for wearing allegedly indecent dress or for being
out in the street after dusk, on the basis of the Public Order Act
of 1996, which has seriously limited the freedom of movement and of
expression of women.
25. The Committee
is concerned at the bombardment of villages and camps of the civilian
population, in the war zones in southern Sudan, including the bombing
of schools and hospitals. In addition, the Committee expresses its
concern about the reported resort to the weapon of deprivation of
food and the creation of a man-made famine as an instrument of war,
coupled with the diversion of humanitarian food aid supplies from
groups of the population in need.
26. The Committee
is also gravely concerned about the considerable number of internally
displaced persons, many of whom are women and abandoned children,
who have migrated from the war zones in the south to the north, where
they live in abject poverty and without adequate shelter or employment.
27. The Committee
expresses its concern regarding the persisting problem of malaria,
often a cause of death in the State party, as well as the increasing
incidence of HIV/AIDS. A lack of medicines at affordable prices compounds
28. The Committee
expresses its concern that the high illiteracy rate, especially among
rural women, deprives the State party of the much needed economic
and social contribution that Sudanese women could and should make
to their society, especially if and when the State party finds its
way to eliminating all aspects of discrimination against women in
E. Suggestions and recommendations
29. The Committee
recommends that the State party provide more detailed information
on the status of the Covenant in the Sudanese domestic legal order
in its second periodic report, as well as on the direct applicability
of the Covenant in the courts of law.
30. The Committee
also recommends that the constitutional guarantee of the independence
of the judiciary be fully implemented in practice, and that the State
party should safeguard the conditions that contribute to the real
independence of judges.
31. In the
light of the recent establishment of committees addressing specific
human rights issues, the Committee encourages the State party to establish
an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with
the 1991 Paris Principles.
32. The Committee
also urges the State party to take adequate measures to enhance awareness
of human rights at all levels of Sudanese society, including government
officials, the judiciary, the military, and the security and police
forces. The Committee recommends that the State party address this
issue in the context of the current cooperation with the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
33. The Committee
requests the State party to provide information on the factual situation
concerning abductions in the conflict areas of the country, particularly
of women and children, leading to slavery or forced labour. Moreover,
the Committee encourages the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction
of Women and Children (CEAWC) to continue its work, and to move towards
the identification of solutions to the problem with a view to their
34. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party reconsider existing legislation,
particularly the 1996 Public Order Act, in order to eliminate discrimination
against women, thereby ensuring their full enjoyment of human rights
in general and economic, social and cultural rights in particular.
35. The Committee
requests that the State party provide statistical data and precise
information concerning the situation of poverty and the status of
unemployment in the Sudan.
36. The Committee
requests the State party to provide more detailed information on the
status of trade unions and their activities.
37. The Committee
urges the State party to address the root causes of the problem of
internally displaced persons and in the short and medium term, to
cooperate fully with international and non-governmental organizations
in the field, in order to provide for adequate (interim) measures
ensuring the basic needs of this group, such as adequate basic shelter,
employment, food and health care, and the continuation of education
for the children.
38. It is
recommended that the State party develop specific measures to eliminate
ingrained harmful traditions, customs and prejudices against women,
such as female genital mutilation, the limitation of their freedom
of movement and expression, and any obstacles that hinder women's
full participation in society.
39. The Committee
recommends that the State party monitor and evaluate the implementation
of relevant legislation relating to human rights. In its subsequent
reports the State party is requested to include information on: mechanisms
for the receipt of complaints of alleged violations of economic, social
and cultural rights; the conduct of investigations and prosecutions;
and statistics on subsequent decisions, and their execution.
40. The Committee
urges the State party to devote adequate attention to identifying
its most urgent problems and concerns about economic, social and cultural
rights under the Covenant and to formulate these priorities in a comprehensive
plan of action for human rights, in which the possible measures to
be taken are categorized according to feasibility of realization in
terms of time and resources. The State party is encouraged to request
the assistance of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
in this regard.
the Committee requests the State party to ensure the wide dissemination
in Sudan of its present concluding observations and to inform the
Committee of steps taken to implement those recommendations in its
second periodic report, to be submitted on 30 June 2003.