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map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

The 1989 military coup that overthrew Sudan's democratically elected government brought to power Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and his National Salvation Revolution Command Council (RCC). Bashir and the RCC suspended the 1985 Constitution, abrogated press freedom, and disbanded all political parties and trade unions. In 1993 the RCC dissolved itself and appointed Bashir President. Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in December 1993. All major opposition parties boycotted the elections, and there were allegations of official interference and electoral fraud. Bashir was selected for a 5-year term, and the National Congress/National Islamic Front (NC/NIF) won 340 out of 360 seats in Parliament in the deeply flawed process. In 1996 a subsequent election was held, which also was boycotted by the major opposition parties. Despite the adoption of a new Constitution through a referendum in June 1998, the Government continued to restrict most civil liberties. Since 1989 real power has rested with the NIF, founded by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, who became Speaker of the National Assembly in 1996. In November 1998, the NIF renamed itself the National Congress (NC); NIF/NC members and supporters continue to hold key positions in the Government, security forces, judiciary, academic institutions, trade unions, professional associations, and the media. The major opposition political parties remain in self-imposed exile or otherwise barred from active roles. In December 1999, Bashir declared a 3-month state of emergency, dismissed Turabi, suspended the Constitution, and disbanded Parliament 2 days before it was to vote on a bill introduced by pro-Turabi legislators to reduce Bashir's presidential powers. In June 2000, Bashir expelled Turabi from the NC, which prompted Turabi to create a new political party, the Popular National Congress Party (PNCP). In December 2000, presidential and parliamentary elections were held; however, the seriously flawed elections were boycotted by the major opposition parties, and most international observer groups chose not to observe them. The state of emergency, which suspends basic civil liberties including freedom of expression and association, remains in effect and during the year was extended until December 2002.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

The Sudanese judicial system includes four types of courts: Regular courts, both criminal and civil; special mixed security courts; military courts; and tribal courts in rural areas which apply customary law to resolve disputes over land and water rights and family matters. Islamic law is applied in the north. There continued to be reports that non-Muslims were prosecuted and convicted under Shari'a hudud laws. Courts do not apply formally Shari'a in the south. Within the regular court system there are civil and criminal courts, appeals courts, and the Supreme Court. Public order courts, which heard only minor public order issues, were suspended in 2000, and public order cases were heard in criminal courts. There also is a constitutional court.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Human Rights

The Sudanese Government's human rights record remained extremely poor in 2001, and although there were some improvements in a few areas, it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. Citizens do not have the ability to change their government peacefully. Government security forces and progovernment militias continued to act with impunity and were responsible for extrajudicial killings. There were reports of government responsibility for disappearances. There were at least eight confirmed abductions of NGO workers by government forces and progovernment militias during the year. Government security forces regularly beat, severely flogged, harassed, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and kept in incommunicado detention opponents or suspected opponents of the Government. Reports of torture were less frequent than in previous years primarily in response to increased critical scrutiny by the international community. Security forces beat refugees, reportedly raped women abducted during raids, and on occasion reportedly harassed and detained persons on the basis of their religion. Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening; prolonged detention under emergency laws with little or no judicial review was a problem; and the judiciary continued to be subservient to the Government. The national, regional, and local authorities did not ensure due process, and the military forces summarily tried and punished citizens. The Government established emergency tribunals in the western part of the country to try banditry cases, which resulted in seven reported executions of those convicted of armed robbery. The Government continued to infringe on citizens' privacy rights. The Government continues to conscript forcibly men and boys. The Government did not fully respect the laws of war, took few prisoners of war (POW's), and did not cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding access to or treatment of POW's in government custody. The Government continued to obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Cooperation with U.N.-sponsored relief program for the Nuba Mountains improved, and in November the Government allowed the delivery of humanitarian relief to SPLM and SPLA areas in the Nuba Mountains for the first time in more than 10 years; however, the Government continued to deny humanitarian flights access to certain areas of the country. Problems with relief flights in the south centered on the Government's frequent denials of visas and work permits to foreign humanitarian workers and aircraft clearances to the U.N.'s Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS).

The Government severely restricted freedom of speech and of the press, repeatedly suspended publications that criticized or disagreed with the government line, and harassed and detained journalists. Moreover, all journalists continued to practice self-censorship. The Government officially lifted formal press censorship and stopped daily monitoring of each publishing house; however, four publications remained under intensive scrutiny and continued to experience intimidation, interruption, and arrests of editors. The Government continued to restrict severely freedom of assembly, association, religion, and movement. In June the Government declared a ban on all rallies and public demonstrations in the country and announced that no permits would be authorized or issued; the ban remained in effect at year's end. In the context of the Islamization and Arabization drive, government pressure--including forced Islamization--on non-Muslims remained strong, including continued reports of forced conversion of non-Muslim children and displaced persons. Fears of Arabization and Islamization and the imposition of Shari'a fueled support for the civil war throughout the country. The Government continued to resist the presence and activities of human rights groups in the investigation of human rights abuses. Violence and discrimination against women were problems. Prostitution is a growing problem, and female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread. Abuse of children remained a problem. Discrimination and violence against religious minorities persisted, as did discrimination against ethnic minorities and government restrictions on worker rights. Child labor is widespread. Abduction of women and children, and slavery and trafficking in persons remained problems. Government security forces and associated militias were responsible for abductions of women and children, use of forced labor (including forced child labor), slavery, and the forced conscription of male children.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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