The Armed Forces and criminal laws have been amended to comply with international humanitarian law
Khartoum, ( sudanow.info.sd) - Human rights do not know national sovereignty of states or geography but rather internationally decides and observes while its UN mechanisms work to apply.
Sudanow interviewed Dr. Muaaz Ahmed Mohamed Tangou, Rapporteur of Sudan’s Consultative Council for Human Rights to cast light on the human rights situations in Sudan and at the conflict zones in particular.
Dr. Tangou, speaking to Sudanow, reviewed Sudan government’s stance towards the Independent Expert for human rights in Sudan, Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, noting that his mandate has changed from monitoring under Chapter (4) to provision of technical support and assistances.
Below Sudanow publishes the text of the interview:
SUDANOW: First: would you please brief us on the human rights situations in Sudan?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “Just like in many developing countries, human rights need great understanding to be put within their correct context. Human rights are not only legal or constitutional texts stipulating that man should enjoy rights and duties but for us in Sudan are among the basic rights that are inseparable. They are stipulated by the Islamic Sharia and the Holy Quran before becoming international commitments in accordance with the international law or conventions. Sudan has endorsed a number of agreements that urge the countries to upgrade, develop and protect the human rights. With regard to the human rights situation, when the focus is placed on a group of rights without the others, there could appear insufficiencies in application in a particular area. It might not be an insufficiency but a certain understanding of a particular failure in a particular area that seems like total insufficiency in all fields of human rights. Rights are not just freedoms of expression and the press or the rights of political exercise, institution of parties, political expression, and participation in the elections or the right in demonstrations but there are other economic and social rights such as the right in development, accommodation, water, education and health. Any right is no less than the other ”.
Q” But we focus on the rights of political exercise, the freedom of the press and the right to demonstrate because they result in great benefits for the people. What is the role of the human rights council in protecting and caring for these rights?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The duty of the Consultative Council for Human Rights is to advise the state bodies in Sudan on the human rights situations in the country whether they are negative, positive or developed. The council’s duty is also to provide the right advice for the state bodies to upgrade these rights. In this respect, the council regards all the rights equally. For instance, the freedom of expression alone could not be enjoyed or yield its goals if the other rights are neglected”.
SUDANOW: to what extent the principle of justice is observed on the ground regarding the citizens’ exercise of their rights of expression, political organization and freedom of the press?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The council is always working to stand alongside the citizens, the state bodies, the NGOs and the civil society organizations to implement these rights and freedoms which are granted by the law. We are concerned with developing the performance with regard to enabling the correct exercise of these rights”.
Sudanow: Doesn’t the affiliation of the council to the Ministry of Justice make of it a government body which may affect its neutrality and objectivity?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “Affiliation of the council to the government is not something new. It is found in many countries. These countries have established such a type of council to be a consultative body on how to implement, develop, protect and upgrade the human rights. The council serves as a specialized body and therefore it is natural that it brings together representatives from the concerned government authorities. The council coordinates the state’s efforts and advices the state and its bodies”.
Sudanow: There are war and conflicts areas such as the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile State and Darfur. Have you monitored any human rights violations at those areas?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “In accordance with the countries’ commitments, the human rights situations in a certain country apply on all aspects of life and all regions of that country. However, there are exceptions in cases when the human rights law does not apply on a certain region of a certain country.”
SUDANOW: Sudanow interrupting: pardon me, but I here mean the human rights in conflicts areas specifically?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The human rights situations or the international human rights law does not apply in cases of conflicts. The international human rights law does not apply on these areas but the international humanitarian law does. However, the international human rights law and the international humanitarian law have many things in common, but conflicts are emergency matters and therefore their law is different and should be implemented”.
Sudanow: To what extent is Sudan committed to the implementation of the international humanitarian law?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “Sudan, as a country which endorsed Geneva agreements concerned with the international humanitarian law, is committed to implement it and also the additional protocols which include protection of the civilians, the facilities and cultural antiques. The law, in its basic context, is emanating from the Islamic Sharia”.
Sudanow: Theory is something and reality is something else. Here we are talking about implementation on the ground, not the political commitment?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “We are always working to implement all the texts and commitments of the international humanitarian law on any conflict. This is achieved by further awareness with the commitments and therefore we have organized many training sessions for the personnel of the armed forces and the police forces who are now fully aware and well-informed with the requirements of the international humanitarian law. Sudan has also amended the armed forces law to criminalize all the acts prohibited by the international humanitarian law for 2007. Sudan has further amended its criminal law for 1991 and included all the violations and acts prohibited by the international humanitarian law. This matter also includes following up the implementation and punishment for violations”.
Sudanow: Since you have mentioned training of the regular forces on the international humanitarian law and human rights. To what extent does the council involve itself in monitoring the investigations made by the police and other regular forces to protect the rights of the victims?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “In fact the council monitors the investigations because it is a responsibility of the Ministry of Justice represented in the attorney and what the council does is receiving the complaints. If any Sudanese citizen believes that any government authority or a person has violated his rights, he has the right to file a complaint to the council. The council will then investigate and verify the complaint and issue its decision and then advises the concerned government authority which violated the right of the citizen if the matter is proved to be right”.
Sudanow: But the government officials have immunities which cripple justice?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The immunities inside Sudan are procedural and therefore there is no person above the law and the immunity can be lifted by the attorney or the minister of justice. The immunity is associated with the performance of the concerned person and his acts and does not cover all fields of his life. The immunity is associated with formal mission of the official and it is not absolute”.
Sudanow: Media organs have recently circulated that the Independent Expert for human rights in Sudan, Justice Mohamed Chande Othman was complaining that the government was not responding with him, particularly after he was prevented to be allowed to visit Darfur. Would you please tell the facts about this matter?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The independent Justice Mohamed Chande Othman was appointed on September 30 2011. He is the Tanzanian judge Shandi who was an independent expert for human rights in Sudan two years ago. His mandate has been renewed to continue his work in Sudan. Sudan’s relation with the expert as a personal relationship is excellent”.
Sudanow: Then what is the problem?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The problem is that the mandate of this independent expert has been changed from monitoring under Chapter (4) to a mandate for provision of technical support and assistances to help Sudan rehabilitate the concerned authorities in the country whether legal or civil community bodies, namely with regard to deepening the awareness and upgrading and protecting the human rights and therefore, there are no differences between Sudan government and honorable judge Shandi”.
Sudanow: Has Justice Mohamed Chande Othman asked to visit Darfur and does the visit fall within his mandate and has the government really refused to allow him to visit Darfur?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “As for the mandate, it is included in the resolution 18/6, namely paragraphs 11 and 23 which clearly indicate his mandate and his rights where his mandate covers the whole Sudan to provide the assistance and not Darfur alone.”
Sudanow: Doesn’t he have the right to visit certain areas and submit his report about the human rights situations at those areas?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: seemingly annoyed “Justice Mohamed Chande Othman does not have the mandate. Resolution 18/16 does not give him the mandate to submit any report in breach of chapter 10”.
Sudanow (interrupting): But what does chapter (10) stipulate?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “It is a chapter concerned with provision of technical assistance to Sudan. It is mentioned under paragraph (12) which stipulates that his report, to be submitted to the coming session (20th session) will be under Chapter (10)”.
Sudanow: Provision of technical assistance to Sudan: is it fixed or changing according to the human rights situations and the reports made by the independent expert?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “The technical support is basically a proposal and the resolution calls on Sudan and demands the independent expert to cooperate with the Sudan government and provide the government needs regarding the support and technical assistances. Sudan government is to determine its needs and the independent expert is to look into the needs and discuss with the Sudan government on the support and its components”.
Sudanow: Has Sudan submitted its needs of technical support?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “Determining the needs will be the topic of the meeting with the independent expert in the coming January”.
Sudanow: Haven’t you received any support from the international community in field of human rights?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “We have not asked for any support as a government so you do not blame the international community”.
Sudanow: good governance is regarded as a standard for receiving the international support. To what extent has Sudan benefited from the international support and has Sudan implemented the principle of good governance?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “I believe the issue of good governance is ethical and religious and one of the requirements that we are committed to implement. In fact the issue has been raised at a number of Western circles which provide the support and financial assistance to the developing countries where those circles have terms and requirements that have nothing to do with good governance in the certain community but attempts to achieve certain desires. Good governance is one of the state’s tools to achieve justice”.
Sudanow: There are differences between theory and implementation: to what extent has Sudan implemented the principle of good governance?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “In our measures and our standards, Sudan is very advanced in field of the implementation of the good governance”.
Sudanow: Would you please tell us about Sudan’s statues regarding violence against women?
Human right council Secretary Tangou: “One of the problems within the circles and organizations of human rights is that they have a kind of unreasonable obsession with the issue of violence against women and children. We support the protection of the women’s rights and support providing them with further rights as they are part of the community. Women represent half of each society and known for their role in raising the generations. The West has its backgrounds regarding the way it deals with the women because at one time violence was prevailing in the western communities”.