I. Background and Summary
This report is submitted by Sudanese civil society groups in response to the communique of the 846th meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC), in which the AU Commission Chairperson is requested to provide the PSC with periodic reports on the situation in Sudan in order to inform decision making by the PSC.
Civil Society Organizations (CSO) have an important role in the transitional arrangements. Accordingly, Sudanese CSO have submitted this report to the PSC on the occasion of the first 3- week reporting period following the 846th meeting of the PSC. This report is submitted in line with the Livingstone Formula and subsequent Maseru Conclusion which mandate civil society 2 organizations to submit reports to the PSC. This report reflects the views of the Sudanese Civil Society and their take on the progress on the transition as at 20 May 2019.
The report uses the milestones prescribed by the PSC in its 846th Communique to assess progress. These include (i) the need for incremental progress towards an agreement on (ii) an inclusive, holistic and consensual solution to the impasse in the country (iii) preservation of gains made thus far on Darfur, Blue Nile & South Kordofan (iv) important supportive actions by the Chairperson of the African Union along with those by other regional and international actors. Based on these considerations, the report makes recommendations on ways the African Union, along with the regional and international community can assist in making the transition as smooth as possible for the benefit of the Sudanese people in line with the Communique of the Chairperson of the AU Commission.
Please find the full joint report attached
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Africa Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment, Sudan (KACE)
Darfur Bar Association
Democratic Thought Project, Sudan
Nuba Women for Education and Development Association -NuWEDA
Nubsud Human Rights Monitors Organization (NHRMO)
Regional Center for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS)
Skills for Nuba Mountains
Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA) Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD)
Sudanese Rights Group (Huqooq)
The Strategic Initiative for Women in The Horn of Africa (SIHA Network)
The Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG)
Full text of the letter in English.
Full text of the letter in French.
Dear President Buhari,
We the undersigned commend the African Union for declaring 2018 as the
year of “Winning the Fight Against Corruption” and recognizing that this is
indeed “A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” We believe that this is
a clear indication of the commitment towards realization of the Africa We
Want – An Africa whose development is people-driven and an Africa where
good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule
of law thrives.
We believe that the fight against corruption will not be won without the voice
of the people. The creation of an enabling environment for civil society to
advocate for the protection and promotion of their rights will enable and
empower people to fulfil their accountability role, reducing corruption and
mismanagement of public resources. Data suggests that laws and practices
in place which enable civic space provides a valuable accountability check
on states to reduce corruption and the cost of doing business. The
International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts the annual cost of bribery alone at
around US$1.5 to US$2 trillion, nearly 2% of global GDP.
The fight against corruption and supporting embattled civil society is
intrinsically linked. As the right to be heard is pivotal to fighting corruption, we
are concerned that the space for the people of Africa to speak truth to
power, organize and take action against corruption and its accompanying
injustices is shrinking alarmingly across the continent.
CIVICUS rated that, while states on all continents are violating civic space,
the most brutal conditions for civil society are found in 20 closed countries, 9
of which are on the African continent. Africa is also home to the lion’s share
of countries in the repressed category (15 countries). In 18 African countries
space is obstructed. Worryingly, these ratings of closed, repressed and
obstructed space are correlated with negative scores on the Human
Development Index, lack of democracy, and an increased gap in income
inequality between populations. The situation is more worrying in countries
We are deeply concerned about the growing shrinking civic space in Africa
which is reflected in mechanisms, policies, and practices that exclude citizens
from decision making processes, limit their operating environment and restrict
their fundamental rights to assembly, association and free speech. Policies
and actions of many governments in Africa are fundamentally opposed to
the existence and growth of bold anti-corruption crusaders, a free and
independent media, and a vibrant and vigilant civil society which has the
ability to check corruption and the endemic impunity surrounding it. This is
necessary to hold those in power to account.
While the African Union and national governments recognizes the pivotal role
of citizens, civil society and the media in fighting corruption, their actions are
not in line with this theory. Violation and victimisation of human rights
defenders and more particularly women human rights defenders continues to
rise at a distressing levels.
Since 2012, more than 29 restrictive laws have been introduced on the
continent, and this trend appears to be getting worse, with a number of laws
currently tabled in parliaments. During this period, the continent has
witnessed increased harassment, intimidation and detention of activists,
censorship of the media and journalists and use of excessive force against
peaceful protestors. Such government actions are weakening our ability as
people to organize and fight corruption, and limits our capacity to fulfil our
accountability role as citizens to small circles and in discussions in low tones.
Restrictions on funding, public attacks and disproportionate and
unpredictable administrative requirements imposed by governments limit civil
society and citizens’ ability to take action against corruption. These efforts are
misdirected from fighting institutional corruption to battling civil society. It has
an add on impact in that civil society is unable to fulfil its various other
mandates to protect and promote the rights of vulnerable populations.
The African Union, whose mission is to build “an integrated, prosperous and
peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force
in the global arena”, needs to demonstrate leadership for member states by
increasing inclusivity and consultation with civil society in its respective
mechanisms. The July 2015 decision excluding civil society from subsequent
AU Summits is an approach contradictory to its vision of a people driven
Africa. As African governments meet from today to deliberate on key
actions that will impact on African peoples’ lives, the people themselves
have been denied the opportunity to be part of these discussions.
We would like to remind our leaders that shrinking civic space remains a
threat to “a people driven development”. Winning the fight against
corruption and achieving the aspirations of Agenda 2063, a strategic
framework for the socio-economic transformation of Africa for the past 50
years, requires all stakeholders including governments, the private sector, civil
society and most importantly the citizens themselves to protect, nurture and
amplify citizens’ voices in decision making processes.
We therefore call upon the African Union and respective national
governments gathered here in Nouakchott, Mauritania to;
1. Through the African Union Council of Ministers to adopt a strong decision
to protect civic space and citizens’ participation in all AU Member States
and in AU organs and policy processes. This includes reversing the July
2015 decision excluding civil society from AU Summits, ensuring full
participation of civil society moving forward and leading by example for
all member states.
2. Appoint a Working Group on Civic Space and Citizens’ Participation that
gives recommendations to the AUC Chairperson to address the issue of
shrinking civic space on the continent.
3. Through the Pan African Parliament, as a continental legislature, develop
a model law on CSO regulation at continental, regional, and national
levels to provide a clear framework for strengthening and protecting CSO
space in Africa.
4. Promote and make use of the regional Guidelines on Freedom of
Association and Assembly in Africa, drafted by the African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and adopted at its 60th session in
Niamey, Niger and formally launched during the 61st Session in Banjul, The
Gambia on November 3, 2017. They are a tool for States and civil society
alike to interpret how these rights should be protected across the
5. Member states to review national laws that regulate the right to assembly,
associate and freedom of speech and ensure they are in line with AU and
international standards and further establish national procedures and
platforms to facilitate meaningful consultation and participation of
citizens in all policy development and implementation processes. Any
repressive laws or policy regulating civic space should be urgently
scrutinised, amended or repealed.
6. Member states and the commission must strengthen and expand gender
sensitive anti-corruption frameworks beyond economic and financial
crimes and to include exploitation of women and girls as a form of
7. Governments must uphold and ensure protection of human rights
defenders with specific attention to women human rights defenders as
they face more pronounced violation and victimization.
8. Ratify, domesticate and fully implement the African Charter on
Democracy, Elections, and Governance (ACDEG) and African Charter
on Human and Peoples’ Rights including developing and submitting the
required reports to the African Union on progress on implementation.
9. Ensure the representation of civil society on the African Union Advisory
Board on Corruption as a full member.
10.Institutionalise alternative peoples’ voices report on the state of
corruption in the continent to be admitted and used in reporting to the
member states during the AU summits.
The African Women’s Development and Communication Network
Civil Society Reference Group
The Kenya Human Rights Commission
Daughters of Mumbi: Global Resource Center
Tax Justice Network Africa
Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment (KACE)
Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum
Excessive Use of Force, Arbitrary Detention
(Nairobi – 29 January 2018) — Sudan’s security forces have arrested scores of people in connection with protests against austerity measures imposed under the January 2018 budget, four Sudanese and international organizations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, said today. Sudanese authorities should immediately release or charge them and grant them full due process.
Anyone held incommunicado should be granted immediate access to their lawyers and family members, and all detainees should be released in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards. Authorities also have an obligation to guarantee the physical and psychological wellbeing of all detainees, the groups said.
“Sudanese security forces are using violence to disperse demonstrators, and have arrested dozens of people, violating the right to freedom of assembly and expression,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. “The Government of Sudan must uphold the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly and initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators.”
Demonstrations across Sudan began on 6 January, set off by the announcement of Sudan’s 2018 budget and the lifting of subsidies and other measures, effectively tripling Sudan’s US dollar exchange rate and increasing the price of basic commodities.
On several occasions since then, Sudanese authorities have used excessive force to disperse demonstrators, including beating peaceful demonstrators with sticks and batons and firing tear gas into crowds.
In addition to the crackdown on protests, authorities have detained hundreds of protesters. Human rights groups documented arrests of at least 79 people at demonstrations in the first three weeks of January. Most are being held by Sudan’s national security agency, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), without access to their families and lawyers.
Dozens of opposition party leaders were detained prior to demonstrations in Khartoum, presumably to prevent them from further mobilizing their supporters. On 7 and 8 January, the authorities detained four leaders from the political opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCP).
On 15 January, a local security committee empowered to implement the current state of emergency in El Obeid, North Kordofan, ordered six months in detention under the emergency law for Osman Salih, a member of the Sudanese Communist Party, and Ali Abulgasim, a member of the National Umma Party. The authorities denied a request to allow the families to visit them.
The majority of arrests were carried out on 16 and 17 January, during marches organized by the Sudanese Communist Party and the National Umma Party, with a number of political opposition parties also supporting the demonstrations and mobilizing their supporters. On 17 January, NISS detained Mohamed Mukhtar al Khatib, secretary general of the Sudanese Communist Party, and Mohamed Aldoma, a National Umma Party deputy chairperson.
All NISS detainees are at risk of abuse. There have been credible reports that several detainees were beaten in detention, subjected to harsh conditions and verbally abused. The organizations sending the news release have documented trends of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by authorities in the past, raising serious concerns about the physical and psychological conditions for detainees.
Authorities have also cracked down on the media. At least three newspapers were confiscated by NISS multiple times between 15 and 18 January for publishing articles that were critical of the government’s response to the demonstrations. Security officials arrested at least 15 journalists. Six journalists were arrested in Khartoum on 16 and 17 January, and released on 21 January. There are credible reports that Amel Habani, a woman journalist and human rights activist, was subjected to ill-treatment amounting to torture during her arrest.
“Reporting on the demonstrations has been deemed a ’red-line’ issue by the Sudanese government,” said Albaqir Alafif Mukhtar, Executive Director of the Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE). “Confiscating newspapers severely circumscribes the availability of information in the public sphere and hinders freedom of expression and access to information.”
All concerned actors should press the Sudanese government to halt its ongoing campaign of arbitrary arrest and detention and excessive use of force to silence dissenting voices, the organizations said.
The Government of Sudan has a long history of excessive use of force. In September 2013 government forces used live ammunition to break up peaceful protests, killing at least 170 protesters. The authorities also detained at least 800 protesters without charge during the crackdown in late September and early October, and subjected many to ill-treatment in detention. There has been little or no accountability for the deaths, injuries and other abuses by Sudanese authorities against protesters. A patchwork of legal immunities effectively shields government forces from criminal prosecution and accountability.
“Sudan should immediately put an end to persistent human rights violations by its police and security services, reform laws that give them broad powers of arrests and detention, and repeal immunity that protects officials from prosecution, said Jehanne Henry, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities also need to guarantee all detainees access to medical assistance required to ensure their physical and psychological well-being.”
This report provides an analysis the different aspects of the Sudanese Voluntary and
Humanitarian Work Act 2006 in comparison with Ethiopian, Egyptian and English
Law. The method of research chosen was a comparative study of Laws. The English
Law was chosen as a standard democratic law from a stable country in which to
compare the Sudanese Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act 2006 with reference
to the Sudanese constitution, as well as, comparisons with two neighboring
countries laws- Ethiopia and Egypt. Roundtable discussions were also conducted
with members of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations, in order to understand their
experiences on how this Act is implemented; their contributions were then
incorporated into this report. The findings show that the Sudanese Voluntary and
Humanitarian Work Act 2006 is used by the government to suppress Sudanese Civil
Society. It is found to be unconstitutional because it deprives citizens of their right
to associate and assemble. It is also found that implementation of the Act varies
according to the whim of whoever is in control. It must be stated that this report has
limitations due to difficulty of access to information regarding laws related to the
HAC. This is because of the nature of secrecy surrounding all security related matters in Sudan.
The full Report or Download Below
(September 19, 2017) The Al Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development, together with our partners in the Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum and Pax today launched “Shrinking Space for Civil Society in the Horn of Africa: the Legal Context”, a comprehensive report on how laws and policies across the Horn of Africa are shrinking the space for civil society.
The report focuses on the legal requirements for operating as a civil society organization and highlights how such things as onerous registration requirements and restrictions on receiving international funding are undermining the capacity of civil society.
Read the full report below or Download it here.
Download (PDF, 1.41MB)