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UN: Sudan, Malawi Violate Civil, Political Rights

  • Lisa Schlein

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrives for the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories at the United Nations Office in Geneva, July 23, 2014.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrives for the 21st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories at the United Nations Office in Geneva, July 23, 2014.

U.N. human rights experts on Thursday accused Sudan and Malawi of failing to protect civil and political rights.

The two countries are among six, including Chile, Georgia, Ireland and Japan, that recently came under investigation of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, a group that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The 18 independent experts appointed by the committee say they have engaged in a constructive dialogue with Sudan, but that the country has many laws and practices that go against its obligations under the International Covenant guaranteeing its citizens civil and political rights.

Committee member Gerald Neuman says the government justifies this by saying its interpretation of religion takes precedence over its obligations under the treaty. Neuman says the committee is particularly concerned about discrimination and violence against women in conflict areas, where many rapes are reported.

The independent experts also expressed concern about indiscriminant use of the death penalty, the practice of torture and ill treatment of prisoners, as well as the system of secret detention centers, which are used to extract confessions.

Citing Sudan’s numerous conflicts as a source of the country's many human rights problems, they have asked Sudan to return in three years to report on its implementation of the committee’s recommendations.

The experts also announced that Malawi has for the first time since it becoming party to the treaty in 1993 submitted a report to the committee for examination. While the committee is pleased with Malawi's action, that has not blunted its criticism of the country’s human rights record.

Chairman Nigel Rodley says the committee is concerned by extra-judicial killings in Malawi, saying the judicial response toward police who use lethal force is inadequate and must be strengthened. He says the government must do much more to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of torture and compensate victims.

Rodley says child abuse is rampant and Malawi’s laws must be amended to properly tackle this problem. The committee was also critical of the practice of forced and child marriages, harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence and the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex relations.

It has asked Malawi to report on the implementation of its recommendations in 2018, when it is due to provide the committee its next periodic report.

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