A Look Back on A Year of Achievements: A Way Forward in Sudan
This article is part of a series of ‘In Focus’ pieces which look at some of our key achievements over the past year.
In this article, our Legal Advisor Julie Bardeche focuses on the continuing efforts of REDRESS to advocate for the introduction of anti-torture reforms in the post-Bashir era in Sudan.
The regime of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had a long history of using torture to silence critics, and perpetrators operated with impunity.
The ousting of Al-Bashir in April 2019 moved Sudan into an era of fast-paced change under a transitional government, presenting an opportune moment to implement effective anti-torture reforms, for which REDRESS and its partners in Sudan have advocated for years.
To capitalise on this critical juncture in Sudanese history, a joint report by REDRESS and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) provided a roadmap for eradicating torture in the post-Bashir era. Published in December 2019, the report A Way Forward? Anti-Torture Reforms in Sudan in the Post-Bashir era, identified practical and effective recommendations for Sudan to comply with its international obligations to prevent, investigate and prosecute torture and provide victims with reparations.
Our concerted, long-term advocacy in Sudan has seen some clear results this year. In November 2019, a series of public order laws, ostensibly designed to protect public morality, were repealed. Our 2017 report, Criminalisation of Women in Sudan: A Need for Fundamental Reform, showed that these laws effectively controlled women’s engagement in public life and disproportionately targeted them for torture and ill-treatment, including flogging.
Announcing the reforms, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok called the laws “an instrument of exploitation, humiliation, violation and aggression on the rights of citizens”. Since the publication of our roadmap in December, the transitional government has also committed to further reforms which will move Sudan closer towards complying with its international human rights obligations.
These include strengthening legal protections against torture, removing immunities to prosecution for members of the Sudanese security services, mandating a Commission to reform the Sudanese legal system, and a commitment to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.
Photo credit: David Rose/PANOS Pictures.