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Sudan has ratified the Convention against Torture in August 2021, as an important step of the ongoing political transition that started in April 2019 after the fall of the regime of then president Omar al-Bashir. Following 30 years of iron-fisted rule with serious human rights violations including torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity, several members of opposition parties, human rights defenders, students and political activists have been released. The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), which were the backbone of al-Bashir’s repressive and torturous apparatus, have been disbanded. The transitional government has also taken important steps to overturn laws that encouraged violence against women, including a moral policing law whose penalties included whipping and imprisonment, as well as provisions on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in the Criminal Code.
The OMCT and its SOS-Torture Network member ACJPS have been strong advocates for key transformations and reforms during the transition, with a particular focus on the protection of women rights defenders, including against arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, torture and other ill-treatment. Furthermore, the impunity for serious human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict in Darfur remain a challenge for the protection of civilians, who continue to be murdered and displaced during fighting. There are also reports of ongoing widespread looting, rape and arbitrary arrests throughout Darfur after years of war. Millions of civilians who are still forced to live out of their homes or even country have found refuge in areas controlled by the Sudanese government, in refugee camps in South Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia.
The lack of accountability for international crimes is one of the main challenges of the ongoing transitional government, which has been hesitant to hand over former president al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC), as requested by the ICC.