Home | News    Friday 2 July 2010

Investigate election-related abuses, rights body tells Sudan


July 1, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — A US-based human rights body has urged both national and southern Sudanese authorities to investigate human rights abuses connected to its April 2010 elections and bring to justice those responsible.

A SLM-Minni Minnawi member helps internally displaced people to find their names on a voters list posted outside a polling station in ZamZam IDP's camp in Al Fasher (AP)In a statement released on June 30, Human Rights Watch said addressing the abuses is especially important as the country prepares for a referendum on self-determination in Southern Sudan, earmarked for early next year.

The 32-page report, entitled, "Democracy on Hold: Rights Violations in the April 2010 Elections," also documents numerous rights violations across Sudan by both northern and southern authorities in the period leading up to, during, and following the April elections.

Such abuse, as mentioned in the report, include restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, particularly in northern Sudan, and widespread intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and physical violence against monitors and opponents of the incumbent parties by Sudanese security forces across the country.

The June 30 report is based on research carried out between November 2009 and April 2010 in Khartoum and Southern Sudan.

"The national elections were an important milestone of the 2005 peace agreement, which was meant to pave the way forward for Sudan," Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch said, while adding that, "But pushing the elections-related abuses under the rug would not bode well for the referendum coming up in January."

According to the US-based rights body, Sudan’s Government of National Unity (GoNU) should enact genuine reforms as advocated for in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including improvements to the national security apparatus.

The national security law, noted Human Rights Watch, currently grants broad powers of search, seizure, and arrest, and allows for detention without judicial review for up to four and a half months, in violation of international law.

In its research, the rights body reported found that in the months leading up to the April elections, the ruling National Congress Party allegedly suppressed peaceful assembly by opposition party members in the north and prevented free association and speech.

However, during election week, it further noted, there were fewer cases of such restrictions, but several cases of harassment, intimidation, and arrest of opposition members and elections observers.


Meanwhile in Southern Sudan, Human Rights Watch reportedly documented widespread intimidation, arbitrary arrest, detention, and mistreatment of opponents of the southern ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), as well as of election observers and voters, throughout the elections process in several southern states.

Also cited during this period were serious irregularities in the conduct of the election, such as multiple voting, ballot-stuffing, and other acts of fraud – undermined their legitimacy.

However, in the weeks following the April elections, Human Rights Watch reportedly documented a worsening human rights situation across Sudan, with renewed repression in the north, incidents of elections-related violence in the south, and ongoing conflict in Darfur.

The Human Rights Watch also called on Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, as required under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593.

"The elections were supposed to help expand democracy in Sudan, but they have had the opposite effect," Peligal said.

"The electoral victory has essentially emboldened the ruling parties, particularly in the north, to crack down on opponents, activists, and journalists," she added.


In its report, Human Rights Watch said the post-election crackdown in Khartoum included the May 15 arrest and detention of the opposition figure Hassan al-Turabi and of journalists, the arrest of Darfuri students, and the resumption of pre-print censorship leading to the suspension of three newspapers.

According to the 32-page report, in early June, security forces violently repressed a peaceful demonstration by Sudanese doctors striking for better wages and working conditions, and detained six doctors without charge until June 24, when the doctors called off the strike.

Two of them, it noted, were subjected to physical mistreatment by national security officials.

Similarly, in Southern Sudan, further said Human Rights Watch, simmering disputes over election results between the ruling party and independent candidates have led to clashes between armed forces.

It cited Jonglei state, where forces loyal to General George Athor, who unsuccessfully ran for state governor, have clashed with the southern army on multiple occasions since the results were announced. Vote-rigging and intimidation during the elections have led to anger and frustration in the south.

"Sudan’s international partners have a critical role to play in urging Sudanese authorities to end impunity for abuses," Peligal said, adding that, "Timid silence on their part will both jeopardize the prospects for a peaceful and meaningful referendum and derail the democratic transformation envisioned by the peace agreement."


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  • 2 July 2010 05:33, by thieleling

    Dear Readers,

    There would NOT be peaceful and meaningful referendum in south sudan. Both the NCP & SPLM are responsible for the failure of upcoming Referendum. The Sudanese people as whole need to understand that the CPA was a negotiated agreement. It is not the supreme law of the land in sudan. It never was put into a referendum for the aproval by all citizens of the country.

    The two partners(NCP & SPLM) treated this document as their own property. That’s why the CPA failed. However, the judges in the court of law and that of the supreme law of the land never were property of any parties in the country. It is for all citizens. The SPLM does not represent south sudan as NCP never represents northern sudan. Therefore, The Human Right Watch is very right to accused both the ruling parties of practicing political repressions and political violence in both north & south.

    Now, the CPA is a dead document. No peaceful Referendum like there was no peaceful election last April. The best solution is for the Northern citizens to get rid off NCP and the southern citizens to get rid off SPLM. Otherwise, both the NCP & SPLM will put the innocent sudanese public on lost-lost war footing as they already did with the elections. G-d helps Sudan in its political abyss!!

  • 2 July 2010 07:55, by DASODIKO

    I am very sad for such rigid processes of the UN organizations. Things would be clear beforehand; and they wait until people are killed, burried and rotten then they come to investigate. There is no different between them and the Egyptian man who have seen the thief breaking in his house and he did nothing! in the morning he was telling the story to his friend. Do you know that yesterday theif broke in my house? His friend was surprised and said; did you kill him? No the man said I was waiting untill he took every thing. Ok, you did’t do anything to him? No I did! What did you do then? After he finishede taking everything,I went slowly and opened the fridge and took very cold water and gushed on his ass to cause him a Rheumatism and die.

    In Sudan elections people were killed, detained and tortured and Carter center and US Special Envoy to Sudan Gration were repeating; We are watching very closely and everything is going fine!! Today you want to investigate what after everything have gone!!!!!!

    • 2 July 2010 08:23, by Sudan virus

      You are right Disaco. human right watch was watching the elections like somebody watching football match.But even then,in football match who ever committed serious crime is taken to court and penalized accordingly .

      Should they do the same in the coming 2011 referendum,then we will not tolerate to seen any human right watch or even observers in our territory south Sudan and tell them that we southerns also know how to violet human rights too as those who violet our rights.

      • 2 July 2010 12:22, by Deng Yak L

        It is really bad to intervene after numerous people loses their lives , where were this so called human right watch (observer) before thing got nastiest , after what are you telling the true , it is too late to sate that statement it was suppose to be said before but not now.

        By Bonaparte.

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