Human Rights Council Discusses Situation of Human Rights in Nicaragua and in Sudan

OHCHR

The Human Rights Council during a midday meeting held an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua, followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue on the oral update of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Sudan since the military takeover.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she regretted that the recommendations made to the Government of Nicaragua since 2018 had not been implemented. The Government’s efforts to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in favour of gender equality and with respect to spending on health and education, were recognised. The authorities must cease, publicly condemn and sanction any attack or harassment against political activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Nicaragua should repeal the laws passed since 2018 that unduly restricted civic and democratic space. It was urgent that the Government take steps to restore a credible, fair and transparent electoral process. The Council should continue to monitor the human rights situation in Nicaragua and to consider all measures to promote human rights and accountability.

Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina, Attorney General of Nicaragua, speaking as a country concerned, said the Council was assessing the application of human rights in a disparate manner between countries, being permissive and tolerant with world powers yet irrational towards developing countries, such as Nicaragua. This unequal assessment led to the manipulation and instrumentalisation of human rights. The objective of this type of reports was to continue disqualifying and denigrating national authorities and institutions, as well as the legal system that sustained the Nicaraguan State, on the basis of false and totally biased information, with the aim of interfering in its affairs, disrespecting its sovereignty and independence, and echoing the interventionist policy of the United States and some European countries towards the people of Nicaragua. Ms. Morales Urbina said democratisation was achieved by implementing public policies aimed at protecting the life, health and well-being of Nicaraguans, which the Government had been doing.

In the ensuing interactive debate, speakers said that the solution to the crisis must be based on international human rights standards. The repression of political opponents, women, Afro-descendants, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, women, and civil society defenders was deplored. The appalling human rights crisis, impunity and lack of dialogue required further attention by the Council. The current state of impunity in Nicaragua could not continue. In the last month, the already precarious human rights situation had deteriorated dramatically, with human rights defenders and journalists imprisoned. Other speakers said that politically motivated pressure and a biased approach was not the way to deal with the situation. Human rights should be dealt with in each country in the context of its own society. The Council should refrain from taking politicised measures that would lead to the polarisation of the body.

Speaking in the discussion on Nicaragua were European Union, Sweden on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, Canada on behalf of the Core Group on Nicaragua, Germany, Paraguay, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, France, Venezuela, Ecuador, China, Cuba, Syria, Spain, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Russian Federation, Chile, Uruguay, Belarus, United States, Belgium, United Kingdom, Colombia, Eritrea, Yemen, Georgia, Peru, Italy, Iran and Mexico.

Also speaking were Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights, Reseau International des Droits Humains, World Organization Against Torture, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Amnesty International, Civicus – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Ingenieurs du Monde.

The Council then moved on to the enhanced interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Sudan since the military takeover.

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was deeply troubled by the reversal of human rights achievements following the military coup in Sudan last October, which had again plunged the country into crisis. Two years of progress towards institutional and legal reform that Sudan had been making since 2019 was now being eroded. A wide range of human rights violations had been documented since the coup, in a context of total impunity. There was concern about the pattern of targeted arbitrary arrests and detention of prominent protest organizers and demonstrators either during protests, at their homes, or in hospitals. She welcomed the release of 115 people last week. The Sudanese authorities must cease to use excessive force and live ammunition against peaceful protestors, respect due process rights, and release all people detained arbitrarily.

Mohammed Saied Al-Hilo, Acting Minister of Justice of Sudan, assured the Council of Sudan’s commitment to all the lofty principles contained in the international and regional conventions and conventions on human rights ratified by Sudan, and affirmed its commitment to the path of democratic transition. Sudan was witnessing movement at various political, economic and social levels, particularly in the field of peace, democratic transition and human rights. All political prisoners had been released with the exception of those awaiting trial for criminal proceedings. Mr. Al-Hilo expressed hope that the Council would respect and develop friendly relations between States and international organizations on the basis of respect for the principle of equal rights and recognition of all positive developments to promote and protect human rights in the country.

Alaaeldin Awad Mohamed Nogoud, Member of the Sudanese Medical Consultants Committee and a founding member of the Sudanese Unified Doctors Office, said Sudan was facing a bad situation regarding human rights. The country had lost 86 martyrs. Eighty-three per cent of the martyrs were shot in the head and back and different parts of the body. More than 60 per cent were in a young age group. Security forces also shot tear gas cannisters in hospitals and targeted the operation room in one hospital. Doctors were arrested after caring for protesters. Sexual atrocities were also carried out by security forces.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers said that the situation of human rights in Sudan had deteriorated. They condemned the coup and expressing concern about the violence and the killing of peaceful protesters. The authorities should show restraint and dialogue was necessary for achieving a way forward. Security forces should stop the violence and exercise restraint. Recent events in the country had jeopardised progress made over the last few years. Some speakers rejected country-specific mechanisms as they were selective and deeply interventionist. It was only through dialogue that human rights could be enhanced. The Council, multilateral mechanisms and other agencies should continue to provide technical cooperation to Sudan as required, in a spirit of non-interference. The Council’s work should be fair and objective.

Speaking in the debate on Sudan were European Union, Sweden on behalf of the Baltic-Nordic States, Côte d’Ivoire on behalf of the African Group, Morocco, Germany, Egypt, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Sierra Leone, Qatar, Mauritania, Luxembourg, Libya, France, Kenya, Venezuela, Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Australia, Yemen, Ireland, United States, United Kingdom, Albania, Bahrain, Eritrea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Malawi and Morocco.

Also speaking were East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, International Service for Human Rights, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Information and Training Centre, and Civicus – World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, made concluding remarks following the debates on Nicaragua and on Sudan.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-ninth regular session can be found here.

At 4 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, followed by an interactive dialogue on the oral update of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and on progress made in the context of the joint investigation undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the High Commissioner on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Nicaragua

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua (A/HRC/49/20).

Presentation of the Report on the Human Rights Situation in Nicaragua

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she regretted that the recommendations made to the Government since 2018 had not been implemented. The Nicaraguan Government’s efforts to achieve some of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in favour of gender equality and with respect to spending on health and education, were recognised. However, being able to deliver on the 2030 Agenda also required building peaceful, just, tolerant, open and inclusive societies, which provided equal access to justice and were based on respect for human rights. Progress in this regard was lacking. There was concern that accountability for human rights violations committed since April 2018 remained unguaranteed. Accountability was at the core of the rule of law.

At least 43 people remained in detention in the context of the 2021 elections, which were characterised by restrictions on civil and political rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and political participation. Guarantees should be put in place to ensure fair trials, in accordance with international human rights standards. The Office had also continued to document arbitrary detentions and harassment by State agents against human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers. Urgent measures must be taken to ensure their prompt release and the physical and mental integrity of those arbitrarily detained, including granting access to the Office of the High Commissioner to visit them. The authorities must cease, publicly condemn and sanction any attack or harassment against political activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Nicaragua should repeal the laws passed since 2018 that unduly restricted civic and democratic space.

Nicaragua’s indigenous peoples continued to suffer violent attacks in the context of territorial disputes, most of them in total impunity. Greater efforts ware needed to respect the rights of Nicaraguan women, including their sexual and reproductive rights. The fear of repressive action by the authorities in response to the exercise of fundamental freedoms was deeply detrimental to the human rights of the Nicaraguan people. Nicaraguans continued to seek dignified and secure lives outside their country: the number of asylum seekers in third countries during 2021 had been the highest since 2018. It was urgent that the Government take steps to restore a credible, fair and transparent electoral process. All Nicaraguans must be able to freely and fully exercise their civil and political rights, regardless of their political affiliation. The Government should initiate a national dialogue, as offered by the President in January 2021. Dialogue must be inclusive from every point of view and must aim to ensure a peaceful and democratic solution to the political, social and human rights crisis that continued to profoundly affect the country.

The High Commissioner encouraged the authorities to develop a roadmap of clear commitments based on good faith and international human rights norms and standards, and to ensure that the dialogue process could be observed by impartial international guarantors. The Council should continue to monitor the human rights situation in Nicaragua and consider all measures to promote human rights and accountability.

Statement by Country Concerned

WENDY CAROLINA MORALES URBINA, Attorney General of Nicaragua, representing the country concerned, said that the Council was assessing the application of human rights in a disparate manner between countries, being permissive and tolerant with world powers yet irrational towards developing countries, such as Nicaragua. This unequal assessment led to the manipulation and instrumentalisation of human rights. The Attorney General disapproved of the sources used as a basis for the analysis of the report, as it only collected the voices of some sectors with political, ideological and economic interests. These so-called updates on human rights were neither fair nor just and represented a real aggression against Nicaragua. The objective of this type of report was to continue disqualifying and denigrating Nicaragua’s national authorities and institutions, as well as the legal system that sustained the Nicaraguan State, on the basis of false and totally biased information, with the aim of interfering in its affairs, disrespecting its sovereignty and independence and echoing the interventionist policy of the United States and some European countries towards the people of Nicaragua. Ms. Morales Urbina categorically affirmed that there could be no human rights without the democratisation of wealth, and that democratisation was achieved by implementing public policies aimed at protecting the life, health and well-being of Nicaraguans, which the Government was doing.

Discussion

Speakers said the solution to the crisis must be based on international human rights standards. The repression of political opponents, women, Afro-descendants, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, women and civil society defenders was deplored. The human rights crisis in Nicaragua, impunity and lack of dialogue required further attention by the Council. In a time of democratic backsliding, it was important for the Council to raise its voice when ongoing human rights violations were observed. The Nicaraguan people had been deprived of the right to freely elect their representatives. The Government should respect all human rights, immediately release all those who were arbitrarily detained, and cooperate with all human rights institutions, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report had outlined a significant deterioration in the situation of human rights since last March’s update. The broad pattern of human rights violations in Nicaragua was condemned as these violations were incompatible with the fundamentals of the democratic system.

The current state of impunity in Nicaragua could not continue. In the last month, the already precarious human rights situation had deteriorated dramatically, with human rights defenders and journalists imprisoned, only one example of the violation of economic, social and cultural rights and political freedoms. Nicaragua should return to the path of democracy. The closing of democratic space, the restriction of the rights of freedom and opinion, the dissolution of political parties, and other elements of the progressive eroding of the rule of law were of great concern. The Government should free all political prisoners and engage in good faith dialogue with all strata of Nicaraguan society. The commitment of human rights defenders and civil society organizations in Nicaragua was commended as their work was vital for identifying those guilty of human rights violations and avoiding impunity.

Some speakers said that politically motivated pressure and biased approach was not the way to deal with the situation, saying that human rights should be dealt with in each country in the context of its own society, and the Council should refrain from taking politicised measures that would lead to the polarisation of the body. The report contained distorted information, and the Government had given staunch evidence of its determination to uphold and support the rights of its people, despite the ongoing siege. Nicaragua needed non-interference in its affairs, and despite the illegal unilateral sanctions, it continued to progress towards a state of peace and solidarity. Nicaragua deserved support from all those who loved peace and supported the self-determination of peoples. The right of the people of that country to determine their own future was vital, and external forces should not continue their negative efforts, seriously undermining the Government’s efforts to support the economy, thus impeding its efforts in favour of its people. The international community should constructively provide assistance to Nicaragua whilst respecting the will of its people and its Government. The approach of the Council was rejected as the resolution of the situation was in the hands of the Nicaraguan people themselves.

Concluding Remarks

NADA AL-NASHIF, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in concluding remarks, said persons who were arbitrarily arrested between 2019 and 2020 were located in different prisons and the Office regularly received reports of incidents of ill treatment and other violations against them. One practice was that relatives were forced to sign statements saying detainees were in good shape under threat of losing visiting rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would benefit from obtaining access to Nicaragua and detention centres to improve conditions in these centres. Criminal procedures had not followed due process of fair trial rights, with initial hearings held in secret without the participation of lawyers. Hearings were not held in public, and lawyers were not able to consult court files. The Deputy High Commissioner called on Nicaragua to annul these trials and the sentences imposed and release all persons who were detained. It was up to the Member States to decide which complimentary mechanism was best suited to address the human rights situation in Nicaragua.

The High Commissioner had various suggestions on a comprehensive action plan towards accountability which was inclusive and victim centred. Responding to a comment from Belarus, Ms. Al-Nashif said the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was not involved in electoral observation and did not have a mandate to assess the results of the elections or comment on their legitimacy. However, a mandate was in place to monitor the human rights situation in Nicaragua during the electoral process.

Answering a question from the United States, the Deputy High Commissioner said unfortunately little cooperation had been received from Nicaragua. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was ready and willing to engage further. Germany asked about Nicaraguan refugees. Interlockers on the ground said Nicaraguan refugee numbers would increase. A human rights solution was becoming less likely, promoting large-scale departures. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on all counties to offer assistance to Nicaraguans forced to leave the country, regardless of their migration status.

In response to a question from Belgium, Ms. Al-Nashif said the Office of the High Commissioner had not received any positive response to the offer of technical cooperation. The international community had a responsibility to support Nicaragua to provide a solution for the multi-dimensional crisis. In the current report, one of the 13 recommendations made to Nicaragua referred to putting an end to all impunities. Accountability was at the heart of the rule of law. Reprisals were alarming for all actors and individuals who wished to engage with the United Nations and express their views freely. The Deputy High Commissioner concluded by expressing appreciation for the interactive exchange and welcomed the open and frank dialogue, saying there was consensus on support to find a democratic solution to the human rights crisis in Nicaragua. She reiterated concern about the persons detained, adding that the conditions they were enduring must end urgently. Granting access to visit the detainees would be a welcome gesture which would encourage the facilitation of a dialogue with Nicaragua.

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her Oral Update on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan since the Military Takeover

MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was deeply troubled by the reversal of human rights achievements following the military coup in Sudan last October, which had again plunged the country into crisis. Two years of progress towards institutional and legal reform that Sudan had been making since 2019 was now being eroded. A wide range of human rights violations had been documented since the coup, in a context of total impunity. Ms. Bachelet thanked Adama Dieng who had been designated at the request of the Human Rights Council to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan since the coup.

Thousands of people continued to take to the streets in Sudan to demand their rights in peaceful protests against the coup, while the repeated use of force by security forces persisted. Live ammunition and offensive weapons were being used directly against protesters, in a clear breach of international law. As of 3 March, credible sources reported 85 people killed, including 1 woman and 11 children, due to disproportionate use of force by security forces during protests. The High Commissioner expressed alarm at attacks on hospitals and medical facilities and assaults on their staff, with injured people blocked from accessing ambulances. Forced incursions into six hospitals by security forces had been documented, with medical staff assaulted. The High Commissioner deplored the widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions, with flagrant disrespect for the rights of those arrested.

The Joint Human Rights Office reported that more than 1,000 people had been arrested for opposing the coup and its consequences between 25 October 2021 and 3 March 2022. The High Commissioner was concerned about the pattern of targeted arbitrary arrests and detention of prominent protest organizers and demonstrators either during protests, at their homes, or in hospitals, and welcomed the release of 115 people last week. The High Commissioner was disturbed by the violations of the rights of children directly linked to the recent demonstrations and the 25 allegations of rape, gang rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, girls and men. Attacks against journalists and human rights defenders were increasing, posing a severe threat to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly. The High Commissioner urged the Sudanese authorities to ensure investigations were conducted quickly, independently and objectively and to define the timespan of the state of emergency, which currently had no end date. The Sudanese authorities must also cease to use excessive force and live ammunition against peaceful protestors, respect due process rights, and release all people detained arbitrarily.

MOHAMMED SAIED AL-HILO, Acting Minister of Justice of Sudan, assured the Council of Sudan’s commitment to all the lofty principles contained in the international and regional conventions and conventions on human rights ratified by Sudan. He affirmed Sudan’s commitment to the path of democratic transition. Sudan was witnessing movement at various political, economic and social levels, particularly in the field of peace, democratic transition and human rights. All political prisoners had been released with the exception of those awaiting trial for criminal proceedings. The Human Rights Council-appointed Independent Expert on Sudan had visited the country in February 2022, meeting with the Attorney-General, among others. The Expert had held a press conference, appealing to the authorities to conduct investigations into allegations of human rights violations, and demanding the implementation of the peace agreement, especially the security arrangements for the Juba Peace Agreement,

Mr. Al-Hilo expressed hope that the Council would respect and develop friendly relations between States and international organizations on the basis of respect for the principle of equal rights and recognition of all positive developments to promote and protect human rights in the country.

ALAAELDIN AWAD MOHAMED NOGOUD, Member of the Sudanese Medical Consultants Committee and a founding member of the Sudanese Unified Doctors Office, said Sudan was facing a bad situation regarding human rights. The country had lost 86 martyrs. Eighty-three per cent of the martyrs had been shot in the head and back and different parts of the body. More than 60 per cent were in a young age group. Security forces had shot tear gas canisters in hospitals and targeted the operation room in one hospital. Doctors were also arrested after caring for protesters. Sexual atrocities were carried out by security forces. Some 3,000 persons had been arrested since the 25 October coup. Violations against detainees in their place of detention were common, including torture. Seventy journalists had been assaulted by security forces. Mr. Nogoud recommended targeted sanctions against military leaders and those who supported the coup.

Discussion

Speakers said the situation of human rights in Sudan had deteriorated. They condemned the coup, expressing concern about the violence and the killing of peaceful protesters. The authorities should show restraint. Dialogue was necessary for achieving a way forward. All stakeholders should help to put Sudan back on the right track. Security forces should stop the violence and exercise restraint, while military authorities should protect the freedom of the press. If the military wanted to act in the peoples’ interest, they must immediately restore civilian leadership of the country. The military authorities must guarantee protection of civilians. Collaboration with the international community and with all bodies would help to achieve the elusive peace that Sudan sought. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should provide the necessary capacity building to the Government to ensure it could achieve this.

Recent events in Sudan had jeopardised progress made over the last few years. Sudan should move towards democratic and inclusive governance with full respect for human rights. It was vital for the voices of the people of Sudan to be heard. The extraordinary situation that Sudan was going through needed to be understood. The use of detention without due process, gender-based violence and other forms of abuse and impunity imperilled the progress of the situation. A return to the democratic transition was vital to address the enormous challenges facing the country. All parties should fully cooperate with the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sudan.

Sudan needed to organise free and inclusive elections, and the international community should stand by Sudan in this regard. All regional and international initiatives aimed at restoring civilian rule in Sudan in this regard should continue, but without interfering with the State. Sudan had reiterated its full readiness to continue to improve the human rights situation on the ground. Country-specific mechanisms were rejected, as they were selective and deeply interventionist. It was only through dialogue that human rights could be enhanced. The Council, multilateral mechanisms and other agencies should continue to provide technical cooperation to Sudan as required, in a spirit of non-interference. The Council’s work should be fair and objective. The holding of special sessions in support of special mandates was not a positive step.

Concluding Remarks

NADA AL-NASHIF, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, explained that on the subject of women’s rights, the military coup had negatively affected the progress of Sudan in that respect. The Office of the High Commissioner continued to support the strengthening of civil society, and worked closely with women’s rights organizations supporting victims of gender-based violence. The ongoing political crisis could result in a further retreat of the protection of women’s rights and delay the consolidation of human rights. Ms. Al-Nashif called on the international community to continue to support the mandate of the designated Independent Expert. She further called on the members of the Council to continue its advocacy to ensure the release of all detainees. Since the coup, almost all of those arrested had been released, however, the Joint Office had observed an increase of arrests and detentions since Christmas 2021. There was an urgent need to resolve the political practices and return to civilian rule. The Office of the High Commissioner called on the authorities to continue to release detainees, speed up the work of the investigative committee, and lift the state of emergency.

MOHAMMED SAIED AL-HILO, Acting Minister of Justice of Sudan, said that the protection of human rights should not be at the expense of security or the rule of law. While facing gatherings that were prone to violence, which had been reported through documents, the protection of human rights needed to be dissociated from any form of politicisation as all freedoms, including the freedom of assembly, were enshrined as long as they were peaceful and within the framework of the law. He reiterated that the alleged violations of human rights were under investigation through criminal law and that the High Commissioner could invite all parties to dialogue but this right was not absolute as the invitee should have a legal existence. Finally, the Minister reiterated that Sudan was ready to take all the positive recommendations to protect and promote human rights in Sudan.

Link: https://www.ungeneva.org/en/news-media/meeting-summary/2022/03/lobligation-redditionnelle-est-le-noyau-de-letat-de-droit

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.