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Sudan: Unilateral sanctions hit the innocent harder than the political elites, warns UN rights expert

GENEVA / KHARTOUM (1st December 2015) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, today urged States which have imposed unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) on Sudan to consider a review of their current policy “given the developments taking place in the country since the imposition of the sanctions regimes.”

“Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation to the sustained evolution of the internal context,” Mr. Jazairy said at the end of his first official visit* to the country to assess the adverse impact of UCMs on the enjoyment of human rights. Referring to the impacts of these measures, the expert added that “in fact, the evolution of the impact of the measures has only fluctuated subject to the whims of fate.”

The expert called for the limitation in scope and time of UCMs, and their linking to achieving specific purposes. “The signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives,” he said referring to the recent tightening of international financial transfers with Sudan after the record fines imposed on European banks for having done business with the Sudan.

Mr. Jazairy welcomed the exemptions introduced for vital supplies but indicated that they remain to be activated by lifting constraints on financial transfers needed to make the exemptions effective. He also suggested the broadening of exemptions and the inclusion of other vital areas “that preserve the enjoyment of fundamental human rights, including full access to health, education and other basic services thus ensuring the right to development and to decent living,” as well as relaxing the restrictions on financial transfers between the Sudanese living in the country and those abroad.

“Sanctions do not affect officials and elites. Their full impact is on innocent populations, and they contribute to social stratification, inter-regional disparities and to the broadening of the black market, as well as to the loss of control over financial transfers,” he stressed, while noting that “Sudan is one amongst few countries that are still under comprehensive unilateral coercive sanctions.”

The UN Special Rapporteur warned that if the adverse impacts of UCMs on human rights in the Sudan are clearly visible in the health sector for instance, “the relative impact of UCMs and of endogenous shortcoming on human rights is difficult to distinguish and needs more studies and investigation.” He underlined that “the study of the dysfunctions in the economic, social and educational areas in the Sudan show that these have causes related to UCMs as well as to the internal situation.”

Mr. Jazairy deplored the absence of detailed surveys and studies to be undertaken by independent sources. “A comprehensive assessment of the situation in Sudan is a two-track process that should take into account the domestic and the external factors affecting the overall human rights situation,” he said.

In that respect, the expert called for cooperation of a technical nature between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant UN agencies operating in Sudan, to develop and design parameters to enable the assessment of the separate impact of UCMs on human rights violations.

“UN experts may come together and undertake a case study that may assist in devising a methodology on impact assessment in other targeted countries,” he recommended.

The Special Rapporteur called for the “gradual removal of the restrictions imposed on the financial transfers relating to business deals.” Mr. Jazairy suggested engaging international donors and creditors to restructure Sudan’s crippling external debt, in line with resolution No. 539 (2015) of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union calling for ‘comprehensive debt relief, the lifting of sanctions against Sudan and development support for South Sudan.’

During his eight-day visit, from 23-30 November, the expert met with the Vice President of the Republic as well as with Ministers and State officials of a number of Ministries concerned by sanctions, as well as with MPs, business and civil society organizations, trade union and party leaders academics and other experts. He also interacted with representatives of UN agencies and regional organizations in addition to members of the diplomatic community from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas present in Sudan, in order to gather relevant information.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit to Sudan to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement:

English: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16824&LangID=E  
Arabic: http://www.ohchr.org/AR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16824&LangID=A


Mr. Idriss Jazairy was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A.(Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and of a large number of articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/UCM/Pages/SRCoerciveMeasures.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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