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Sudan: Memorandum to the National Constitutional Review Commission

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Amnesty International

May 2005
AI Index: AFR 54/49/2005

Amnesty International welcomes the drafting of a new interim constitution for Sudan, as an opportunity to provide a better constitutional framework for the protection of human rights than the previous Constitution of Sudan of 1998. Amnesty International is presenting this memorandum to the National Constitutional Review Committee (NCRC), in charge of finalising the Draft Interim Constitution, in the hope that its comments and recommendations to improve the human rights provisions of the text will be debated and incorporated.

The Draft Interim Constitution is based on the 9 January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), comprising the seven protocols and agreements reached between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) between July 2002 and December 2004. According to Article 225(1), the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is "deemed to have been duly incorporated in its entirety in this Constitution" and "The provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which are not expressly incorporated herein shall be considered as part of this Constitution." In particular, the Power-Sharing Protocol, agreed in May and signed on 5 June 2004, forms the basis of the relationship between government institutions, and contains the Bill of Rights which is included in the constitution.
Over the past two years there have been a number of conferences and debates on the future Sudanese Constitution in light of the expected peace accords and the armed conflict which preceded them. Conferences organized by non-governmental organisations such as Justice Africa and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, including Sudanese and international lawyers and jurists, were held in Nairobi, Kenya and Entebbe, Uganda. However, it is not clear to what extent these conferences were able to provide input into the current Draft Interim Constitution. A draft interim constitution proposed and made public by the Max Planck Institute of Heidelberg, Germany, in February 2005 was apparently rejected by the GoS and the SPLM.
The current Draft Interim Constitution was drafted by a panel of 14, composed of seven members nominated by the GoS and seven by the SPLM. This draft is now being discussed by the National Constitutional Review Committee (NCRC) .
The Draft Interim Constitution which is at present being discussed by the National Constitutional Review Committee is dated 16 March 2005, but it was not, apparently, made public until May 2005. It contains 16 parts and 227 articles and will come into effect on 9 July 2005, when according to the CPA the interim period is scheduled to begin.

This memorandum is not an exhaustive analysis of the Draft Interim Constitution. It presents some of Amnesty International’s concerns and recommendations to improve human rights provisions in the Draft. The Interim Constitution itself will not be sufficient to prevent human rights violations; however, strong constitutional guarantees for the respect, protection and promotion of human rights, would be a powerful tool to prevent further human rights abuses in Sudan and usher a new era for the protection of the human rights of all in Sudan.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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