Criminal laws are a crucial yardstick for the rule of law and the protection of human rights. Sound criminal laws are essential to any society that seeks to protect the physical, psychological and material integrity of persons and other recognised values. Criminal laws are, however, a double-edged sword as they are often the source of human rights violations. In Sudan, criminal laws are often overly broad and vague and criminalise conduct that is protected by such rights as the freedom of expression. A range of offences are subject to whipping and other cruel and inhuman punishment. The law fails to protect the most vulnerable from crimes such as rape or torture, which frequently go unpunished. Persons detained are by law not provided with adequate safeguards, which exposes them to violations in custody.
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- To advance the legal recognition of the rights of all people in Sudan, in particular those belonging to the most vulnerable communities;
- To ensure that criminal law is consistent with the Bill of Rights in the Interim National Constitution and human rights standards;
- To remove the legal basis for criminal law violations, including discrimination, especially of women;
- To remove the legal basis for impunity and to change relevant laws so as to enhance access to justice and to ensure accountability of all perpetrators of serious human rights violations;
- To eliminate anomalies and repeal obsolete or unnecessary provisions, in particular in so far as they may have a detrimental impact on the exercise of human rights;
- To raise public awareness of international and national human rights standards relevant to criminal laws ;
- To enhance the capacity of a broad cross-section of civil society groups to engage in debate on criminal law reform;
- To foster collaboration and inclusiveness amongst civil society groups throughout Sudan;
- To make the law reform process more reflective of societal interests and more transparent owing to greater stakeholder involvement.
- Regular meetings of civil society groups and other interested institutions to foster a stakeholder network, discuss priority issues and facilitate campaigns and local initiatives
- Meetings with members of vulnerable groups, such as IDPs and disabled persons, and local communities, such as in the Nuba mountains, to raise awareness and discuss areas of concern with a view to ensuring that these are reflected in legislative reforms
- Expert consultations with members of the Project’s advisory committee on priority areas of law reform, contents and strategies
- Working with governmental bodies, parliamentarians, political actors as well as international agencies to invigorate the momentum for reforms and facilitate ongoing initiatives. Ensure that reforms are reflective of human rights standards and broader societal concerns, in particular the most vulnerable groups
- Conducting training workshops to enhance the capacity of civil society to engage in the law reform process
- Engaging with the media to strengthen its capacity and increase quality coverage of pertinent subjects
- Publishing a series of materials, such as briefing and position papers, submissions and reports, on priority areas of reform or any proposals or bills
- The Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD) is a national NGO based in Khartoum. It aims at empowering Sudanese civil society and improving its ability to lead nationwide rights-oriented movements to protect human rights, promote democracy and good governance. SORD seeks in particular to strengthen the rights of the poor and excluded communities. It has taken a leading role in broad based campaigns on democratic transformation beyond elections and reforms of personal laws to guarantee women’s rights.
- REDRESS is a UK based international nongovernmental organization working to promote justice for survivors of torture (www.redress.org). REDRESS has been working on human rights in Sudan in collaboration with Sudanese counterparts since the mid-1990s with a view to seeking justice for victims of torture and related serious human rights violations and accountability of the perpetrators. Over the last five years, REDRESS has engaged in building the capacity of Sudanese NGOs to litigate human rights cases and to advocate for legislative reforms.
- Project Co-ordinator: see on the role of the Project Coordinator, interview with former Project Coordinator Ishragha Adam, Law reform in Sudan, Reparation News, Winter 2009,
- Stakeholders’ network: The network comprises a broad cross-section of civil society groups from various parts of Sudan. Its role is to advance law reform as a process and the reform of particular laws through a range of activities, including awareness raising, local and thematic engagement and campaigns.
- Advisory Committee: The Committee brings together around twenty legal scholars and experts from the social and political sciences, history, and other disciplines on major issues. Its role is to steer and guide the Project, to provide advice and input on priority areas of criminal law reform and on specific law reform proposals, including on the means of implementation and activities of the project.
- Media core group: The core group brings together several committed journalists. Its role is to consider how best to cover pertinent issues on criminal law reform in the Sudanese media and to raise concerns about legislation impacting adversely on freedom of the press.