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UN rights expert sees progress in Sudan, but problems remain

[JURIST] UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan Muhamed Chande Othman said Thursday that while Sudan has made progress [text] in protecting human rights, grave problems still exist. Othman praised [UN News Centre report] the "institutional and legislative reform" leading to the passage of several laws protecting children and the press and creating election and human rights commissions, but said that Sudan still faces a number of problems. Specifically, Othman expressed concern about the governments failure to appoint commissioners to the country's Human Rights Commission created eight months ago, criminal procedure laws that "infringe fundamental rights," and reports of threats and harassment directed against potential candidates for public office. On Darfur [JURIST news archive], Othman said many people lack access to justice, that the government often detains people for significant periods of time without bringing charges against them, and that the government has failed to bring to justice those suspected of committing war crimes.

On Wednesday, UN and Darfur government groups began work [JURIST report] on compensation for victims of the conflict in Darfur. On Monday, the African Union (AU) [official website] called for a hybrid court [JURIST report] of Sudanese and foreign judges to hear trials of individuals accused of war crimes in Darfur. Last week, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC reversed [JURIST report] a Pre-Trial Chamber decision that denied the application for an arrest warrant on genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. In December, Sudan lawmakers agreed on a law addressing the implementation of a 2011 referendum on southern independence agreed to earlier in the month [JURIST reports]. Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [UN press release] that ended two decades of civil war, Sudan is expected to hold its first democratic multi-party elections in almost a quarter of a century in April.

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