UN human rights expert calls for Sudanese forces to be held accountable for violations

The UN Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan, Radhouane Nouicer, has called for a speedy accountability of the security forces accused of committing violations. At a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday, at the conclusion of his five-day first official visit to the country since his appointment in December*, Nouicer urged lifting immunities on legal prosecution of members of the security forces involved in human rights violations. He called for drawing up a clear roadmap for the reform of the security sector.

The former Tunisian diplomat stressed the need for human rights and accountability to be central topics in the programme of the next government. The establishment of a transitional justice commission should be at the top of the next stage’s priorities.

The Sudanese authorities must also work out a zero-tolerance policy for sexual violence against women and put in place the necessary measures to stop it.

The UN expert welcomed the human rights commitments contained in the Framework Agreement.

Imposing the Emergency Law should be restricted, he said, as it is used to detain people for long periods without respecting their rights to fair legal process, as happened to about 350 people in West and North Darfur last year.

He expressed his deep concern about the decline in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights for the Sudanese, including basic services, due to the deterioration of the economy, the increase in the cost of living, and the increase in taxes and fees, without an increase in incomes.

The independent expert for human rights called for providing security and political commitment to resolving the underlying causes of the conflict for the return of the displaced to their villages.

In a press statement, he pointed out that the displaced in El Geneina have been displaced repeatedly as a result of armed attacks against their communities, and the perpetrators have not been held accountable.

He said that the inability to take action to protect the people of Darfur will lead to more conflict and an increase in the number of people who depend on humanitarian aid in a land rich in natural resources.

He called for all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses committed during the conflicts in Sudan to be held accountable, in accordance with legal procedures and without undue delay.

He said that accountability and transitional justice issues require credible practical mechanisms that address past crimes and their root causes and provide a legal infrastructure that prevents their recurrence.

During this visit, which will end on 3 February, he will meet with senior Government officials, representatives of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, heads of UN entities and members of the diplomatic corps. He will also be following up on actions taken by the Sudanese authorities to implement the recommendations made by his predecessor, Adama Dieng, and on commitments made to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, when he visited the country in November last year.

The expert’s findings during the visit will contribute to High Commissioner Türk’s oral update to the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council on March 3, 2023 on the human rights situation in Sudan. It will also contribute to the High Commissioner’s comprehensive report on the situation to the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council in June.

Source: Radio Dabanga

Israel FM Cohen visits Sudan as Khartoum and Tel Aviv step closer to ‘normalisation’

Sudan and Israel have taken a step closer to normalisation of bilateral relations, following a one-day visit to Khartoum by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen yesterday, where he met with the chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council and junta leader Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan.

The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) and the Sovereignty Council’s media liaison confirmed the meeting in El Burhan’s office that included the Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his accompanying delegation, In the presence of the Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali El Sadig.

The meeting touched on ways to establish fruitful relations with Israel and enhance prospects for joint cooperation between Khartoum and Tel Aviv in the fields of agriculture, energy, health, water, and education, especially in the security and military fields, the Sovereignty Council liaison says. The meeting also dealt with the role played by Sudan in addressing security issues in the region.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an Israeli official on Wednesday, who said that Sudan is likely to be the next Islamic country to join the Abraham Accords with Israel. According to the official, he referred to negotiations that took place between Israel and Sudan in recent days and weeks. The official added that the USA is mediating between the two sides and that an agreement now appears possible.

Following the meeting, El Burhan and Cohen said they will sign a peace agreement in Washington later in 2023.

In October 2020, Sudan announced its interest in joining the Abraham Accords, and three months later, it signed the declarative section of the agreement in the presence of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but unlike the United States the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Sudan it did not sign the corresponding document with Israel.

Following the military coup in Sudan in October 2021, Israeli officials made it clear that the chances of opening diplomatic relations between the two countries had diminished. However, due to the good relations between the political and military leadership of Israel and senior members of the military council in Sudan, there have been several reports since the coup about visits by Israeli delegations to Sudan – at the request of the United States – in an attempt to resolve the political crisis.

Source: Radio Dabanga

Over 20 killed by suspected armed Dinka Bor pastoralists in Kajo Keji County

At least 20 civilians were reportedly dragged out of their homes and gunned down in Lire Payam in Central Equatoria State’s Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists suspected to be from Bor in Jonglei State on Thursday morning, officials said.

Speaking to Journalists on Thursday, Dr. Paul Yugusuk, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church’s Central Equatoria Internal Province, said the incident happened on Thursday morning. He said two women and 18 men were among those killed.

“I would like to express my deepest sadness over the murder, the barbaric killing of 20 civilians in Lire Payam. This incident happened this (Thursday) morning and we lost two women and 18 men” he said. “Just the day before on Wednesday, we held a peace and reconciliation meeting in Kajokeji and we had delegations from the central Equatoria State and Jonglei State who visited Kajokeji. The Joint committee comprised the Central Equatoria State security advisor and the chairperson of the Jonglei State peace commission and peace advisor and for us to only hear this morning about this incident.”

Archbishop Yugusuk urged Pope Francis to pray for the country and the families of the Kajo Keji killings.

“This incident comes at a time when we are going to receive our pope but unfortunately our people are killing our civilians. I, therefore, request Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland to pray with the families and relatives of those who were killed,” he said.

The Archbishop condemned the incident and urged the government to bring the perpetrators to book.

“We want to condemn this barbaric killing of our civilians and I call upon the government and President Salva Kiir Mayardit to intervene immediately to protect our people and to bring those who have committed this act to book,” Yugusuk said.

On his part, the Central Equatoria State information minister, Dr. Andruga Mabe Saveria, in a statement Thursday said the leadership of the state condemned the latest attack in Kajo Keji by armed Dinka Bor herders.

“Today, 2 February, the people and the Government of Central Equatoria State woke up to the saddest news of renewed bleeding of Kajo Keji County following the massacre of innocent unarmed civilians at Likamerok Boma in Lire Payam,” the statement read. “The cattle herders conducted a savagery house-to-house murder of innocent unarmed civilians as a sheer revenge attack after an unknown armed group assaulted their camps in a hit and run mission which led to the death of both cattle herders and their animals this (Thursday) morning at 5 am.”

Minister Mabe said Governor Emmanuel Adil called upon the people of Kajo Keji to remain calm as security agencies are in control of the situation and are working to apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous act.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Kajo Keji Community Organization (KCO), Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, qualified that there is no fighting in Kajo Keji County but that the armed pastoralists from Bor killed innocent civilians in cold blood.

“There is no fighting in Kajo Keji but the area has been overrun and occupied by members of the Dinka Bor community over the last year and they flooded the county with thousands of cattle guarded by heavily armed cattle keepers. They proceeded to seize all the cattle, goats, and chickens owned by the local people and used local farms as grazing fields for their animals. If you resist them, you become a victim,” he said. “What happened on Thursday morning was that the Dinka Bor cattle keepers went on a rampage and began shooting residents in their homes from 5 am and it continued through the day. By Thursday evening, 21 people were confirmed killed and 19 of the bodies were collected and taken to the county headquarters and the body of one woman was last evening discovered in a bush.”

He added: “So, 19 young men, a woman, and a child were killed bringing the total to 21 people gunned down in cold blood.”

Tisa said the whole population is in shock, grief, and pain.

“There is no fighting but it was just a massacre and we have not seen any reaction or action from the government, not even a statement,” he lamented. “We thought that after attaining independence, South Sudan should embark on building the nation, fighting poverty, eradicating illiteracy, improving health services, and more. This is what South Sudanese should be doing for themselves and not fighting and massacring each other for no reason.”

Source: Radio Tamazuj

Juba prepares to receive the Vicar of Christ

Preparations are in high gear for the coming of Pope Francis and other religious leaders to South Sudan’s Capital Juba on the 3rd of February 2023.

The Pope’s visit to South Sudan is aimed at encouraging the country’s leaders to work towards achieving peace.

In some of the places visited by Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, many people said they would go to the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum and St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral on Friday to receive Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Korsuk Ciciva Nyarsuk, a member of the protocol committee said preparations are almost complete to receive the religious leaders.

“Our preparation up to now is almost 100 percent and we are ready to receive the three religious leaders,” Korsuk said. “The preparation is going on well, now the members of the committee are ready and they are now setting up the venue.”

Korsuk disclosed that guests from all over the world traveled to Juba to witness the papal visit.

“We started receiving our guests through the Juba International Airport today (Thursday) and we are expecting the moderator of the General Assembly, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Pope Francis,” he said. “We have received several church leaders, most;y bishops from the region.”

Bishop David Akau Kuol of the Episcopal Church’s Awerial Diocese in Lakes State who is a member of the organizing committee said the three religious leaders will deliver messages of peace, unity, and reconciliation.

“Our government and the church are united to work for peace in this nation and the preparations are going on very well and we are ready to welcome the three religious leaders,” he said. “We pray that God will bring them safely to South Sudan and we are hoping that as a church, peace, unity, and reconciliation will prevail in South Sudan.”

Benjamin Steward, a citizen, expressed happiness about the visit of the three religious leaders describing it as a blessing to the world’s youngest nation.

“We hope their coming will bring changes in our lives, we need to love each other as one people and one nation,” said Steward. “We need to have peace in our hearts and not peace that people just talk about.”

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Moderator General of the Church of Scotland, Rt. Rev. Dr. Iain Greenshields are expected to arrive in Juba on Friday after a two days itinerary to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In July, the papal visit was called off due to a knee ailment that confined Pope Francis to a wheelchair.

The 86-year-old pontiff has made several visits to Africa since becoming Pope in 2013, but this is his first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

On 3 February, the pontiff with the Archbishop and the Moderator-General will meet and greet the presidency and foreign diplomats.

He will then retire to his Vatican residence while his accompanying delegation will be taken to the Raddison Blu hotel late in the afternoon.

On February 4, the Pope will lead a prayer vigil with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Rev Iain Greenshields.

The Pope will pray at Saint Theresa Cathedral in Kator, the Archbishop of Canterbury will go to pray at All Saints Cathedral and the Moderator-General will go to the Presbyterian Church in Jebel.

After the morning prayers, they will meet internally displaced persons at Freedom Hall in the afternoon, before moving to Dr. John Garang Mausoleum for public prayers at 6 pm.

On the morning of 5 February, people will also be assembling at the John Garang Mausoleum for a final mass after which the Pope and his team will leave South Sudan.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

CEPO calls for joint UN-CTSAMVM investigation into runaway communal violence

The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) on Friday called for a joint UN and Ceasefire & Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring & Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) investigation into escalating violence and killings in the country.

On Thursday, 21 civilians were reportedly dragged out of their homes. They were gunned down in Lire Payam in Central Equatoria State’s Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists suspected to be from Bor in Jonglei State.

“The deadly armed communal violence across South Sudan is taking a worse shape and the perpetrators of these deadly acts of violence are not held accountable. CEPO is seriously disturbed by the weak capacity of the central and state governments in preventing this armed deadly and inhuman violence among our communities across the country,” the CEPO statement read. “These are fueled and aided by political and military elites in the system of the government. The armed youth or individuals involved in all forms of cattle raiding, cattle herders-farmers clashes and revenge attacks, and other forms of deadly communal violence normally keep on telling us they are directed and or instructed by their elites. This trend requires urgent intervention.”

CEPO’s executive director, Edmund Yakani, said the United Nations Human Rights Commission, CSTAMVM, and the UN panel of experts should undertake a joint investigation into the deadly violence.

“This should produce a concrete report with names of individuals who have contributed directly and indirectly in fuelling and aiding the deadly communal violence,” he said. “Publishing the names of the individuals fueling and aiding armed violence is one of the best strategies for preventing deadly violence.”

Yakani also challenged the country’s leadership to be proactive in containing the deadly violence.

“The drivers of most deadly violence are political, defense, and security elites in the system or opposition. The scale of the violence may push communities to establish defense forces that can easily undermine the presence of the government at any level,” Yakani said. “The armed violence between farmers and cattle herders and cattle raiding and revenge attacks are all fueled and aided by elites across the country. These elites who are fuelling and aiding the deadly violence should be named and face the law.”

CEPO urged the national government to urgently adopt a strategy for mitigating and preventing further deadly violence.

“Extremism is taking serious root among our communities due to continued armed violence,” the statement concluded.

Yakani, in another statement, condemned Thursday’s killing of 21 civilians in Kajo Keji County by armed pastoralists believed to be from Bor in Jonglei State.

“I would like to strongly condemn the killing of 21 innocent citizens in Lire Payam in Kajo Keji. AS CEPO, we are disturbed and strongly condemn this incident and urge that the perpetrators be brought to book by the concerned authorities,” he said. “We are aware that this incident happened on the visit of the Pope and other religious leaders. IT also happened when CEPO tried to de-escalate incidents of violence in Kajo Keji where we facilitated a joint team from the state governments of Jonglei State and Central Equatoria to meet and mitigate the rise in violence.”

“We also asked the pastoralists to leave Kajo Keji and return to their areas of origin as per President Salva Kiir’s order,” he added.

Yakani said it was worrying that the Kajo Keji killings happened even as CEPO was trying to address the issue of violence between herders and the people of Kajo Keji. He urged the Jonglei State and Central Equatoria authorities to find a durable solution to the problem.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

USA concerned over Sudan Supreme Court’s release of convicted murderer

According to the defence lawyer of Abdelraouf Abuzeid, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for the killing of USAID employees John Granville and Abdelrahman Abbas, Sudan’s Supreme Court based its decision to release him on “an interpretation of an agreement on retribution”.

Abdelraouf Abuzeid Mohamed Hamza was sentenced to death in 2009, together with three others, for their involvement in the murder of United States Agency for International Development staffer John Granville and his Sudanese driver Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama during the first hours of 2008.

He was released by the Supreme Court on Monday, after the Supreme Court circuit issued the decision by a vote of three to two, lawyer Adel Abdelghany told Radio Dabanga yesterday.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the USA expressed it deep concern over the release of Abuzeid, who “remains a Specially Designated Global Terrorist”.

The USA “are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency in the legal process that resulted in the release of the only individual remaining in custody and by the inaccurate assertion that the release was agreed to by the United States Government as part of the Sudanese government’s settlement of victims’ claims in connection with Sudan’s removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list in 2020. We will continue to seek clarity about this decision.”

The statement further said that the Department’s Rewards for Justice programme “has a current reward offer of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed or Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhassan Haj Hamad, two other individuals responsible for the murders [..]”.

Retribution

Lawyer Abdelghany told Radio Dabanga that the Supreme Court based its decision “on a free interpretation of an agreement between the Sudanese and US governments regarding the payment of two-and-a-half million Dollars to the family of John Granville.

“The Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in Sudan, is authorised to interpret documents,” he explained. “The court considered the family’s acceptance of compensation as a waiver of retribution, and for this reason it brought the death sentence back to a prison sentence.

“The American side believes that the Sudanese government paid the amount as compensation for its negligence in its duties, not to waive retribution.”

The lawyer said that the decision of the Supreme Court is final. “The statement issued by the US State Department on January 31 considers Abuzeid a dangerous terrorist and hints that he falls within the US reward of $5 million for anyone who gives information that leads to the arrest of two other, fugitive men involved in the killing.

‘Changed‘

Journalist and expert in extremist Islamic groups El Hadi Mohamed El Amin told Radio Dabanga that Abuzeid has changed during his 15 years in prison. “Because he was neglected by the Islamists groups, he was a member of, his father died, and the conditions inside the prison were harsh, there was a time he reached a high degree of depression and attempted suicide.”

Mohamed El Amin expects that Abuzeid will not pose any danger anymore. “He has become a moderate Muslim now. Already in prison he began focusing on his future.”

Source: Radio Dabanga