U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is seen at a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2019.
FILE - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is seen at a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2019.

GENEVA - Sudan has approved a request by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a country bureau to help the Sudanese government as it moves through a democratic transition to become a society based on human rights principles.  The announcement and a review of the human rights situation in Sudan were presented Thursday at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council.    

The High Commissioner’s Office welcomes Sudan’s cooperation and willingness to work with its staff to advance the rights and freedoms of its people.  It says it plans to focus on several key areas that match the government’s priorities. These include the strengthening of the rule of law, preventing violations, enhancing equality and countering discrimination.  

Members of a family beneficiary of a cash support system are pictured in Khartoum on July 9, 2020. Sudan is distributing cash handouts under an internationally backed plan to help millions cope with an economic crisis aggravated by COVID-19.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada al-Nashif says the Sudanese government already has taken bold steps to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.  She notes it has repealed the Public Order Law, which had been used by the former regime to target women and restrict individual freedoms.  

FILE - Youssria Awad plays with her daughters in their home, in Khartoum, Sudan on June 14, 2020. She refuses to carry out female genital mutilation on them.

“Similarly, the Joint Council endorsed a bill that reviews the crime of apostasy, and the age of criminal responsibility for children.  It criminalizes female genital mutilation and eliminates some of the discriminatory measures against women," she said.  "We also commend the establishment of the Legal Reform Commission to review national laws in accordance with human rights obligations.”  
 
Former Sudan president Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a military coup in April 2019 after 26 years of repressive rule.  On July 14, 2008, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for al-Bashir’s arrest. He was cited for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. 

FILE - Sudanese people gather outside al-Huda prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman, July 4, 2019, during a ceremony marking the release of 235 members of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, which has fought government forces in Darfur.

 Sudan’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Osman Abufatima Adam Mohammed, says his country is still living with the impact of this terrible legacy.  
 
“Sudan suffered for decades of varying serious and economic problems because of war, conflicts, boycotts and sanctions," he said. "Together with being blacklisted as terror sponsoring countries, which deprives it of financing by international financing institutions, and prevented it from having its debts written off.”  
 
The ambassador says he welcomes the U.N. High Commissioner’s call for nations to lift the crushing sanctions imposed on Sudan during the rule of the previous regime.  He says this is the only way to break the cycle of poverty, which is impeding his country’s social and economic development.