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Amnesty's Global Round-Up Latest Human Rights News

Global Round-Up: Latest Human Rights News

Sudan: Intimidation and denial - attacks on freedom of expression in Darfur

Rather than taking decisive action to curb widespread human rights violations in Darfur, the Sudanese government instead is seeking to gag those who are speaking about the abuses, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

Under increasing international pressure, the Sudanese government is attacking freedom of expression, so as to control information which would reveal whether or not the government is fulfilling its commitments.

"Instead of arresting those who commit human rights violations, the Sudanese authorities are arresting those who are exposing the perpetrators," Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International said.

Despite the risks attached, people are speaking and will continue to speak out against human rights violations in Darfur because of the feeling they have nothing more to lose.

On 30 August the UN Security Council will discuss the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Sudan: "As long as people who want to speak out about these violations are intimidated and arrested, the commitments of the Government of Sudan to the international community remain hollow," Irene Khan said.

Freedom of expression has been notably absent in political discussions between the Sudanese government and the United Nations or others. Freedom of expression is essential not only because it is a right in itself, but because it acts in defence of other rights. Unless people are allowed to speak freely it will be difficult for UN and AU observers to make an accurate assessment of any progress in Darfur.

Among the cases in Amnesty International's latest report are those of seven people arrested for giving information to the African Union's ceasefire monitors in Abu Dereja near Al Fasher on 15 July and 17 July. They were reportedly still being detained in the National Security centre in Al Fasher as of 20 August.

The Sudanese authorities are also trying to stop civil society from discussing the causes and solutions to the crisis. People have been arrested for presenting petitions, trying to organize public meetings and opposing the return of those displaced by the conflict to unsafe areas.

Control over the independent Sudanese press is tight, and government-owned television and radio give a one-sided view of the crisis, portraying foreign media reports about human right violations in Darfur as a "conspiracy against Sudan".

As one Sudanese lawyer said: "One problem is the lack of information in Khartoum about the conflict. People in Khartoum do not know what is happening in Darfur. On the television and the radio the government says that everything is all right in Darfur, that people receive aid and that the situation is under control,".

The Sudanese government has further sought to control information on the crisis by not granting access to Darfur, in spite of numerous requests, to international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, which have been critical towards Khartoum.

The Sudanese government should lift all restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and release all those detained solely for expressing their opinions.

The right to freedom of expression must be protected in Sudanese commitments, in peace talks, and in any monitoring of the situation in Darfur.

  • Read the report "Sudan: Intimidation and denial - Attacks on freedom of expression in Darfur":
  • Australia: Secretary General to deliver the 2004 Hawke Lecture

    Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, will be in Australia to deliver the 2004 Annual Hawke Lecture in Adelaide on 8 September 2004.

    On 4 - 5 September, Ms Khan will take part in Amnesty International Australia's human rights conference, 'Human Rights: A Pacific Agenda' in Brisbane.
    Prior to arriving in Adelaide, Ms Khan will attend meetings in Canberra and Sydney, including at the Australian Graduate School of Management - Centre for Corporate Change Global Leaders Program.

    For further information and to arrange interviews with Ms Khan, please contact: Suzi Clark on +61 (0) 2 9217 7640 or Mobile +61 (0) 413 028 191
    Judit Arenas on Mobile + 44 7778 472 188
    Saria Rees-Roberts on +44 207 413 5729

    For more information on Amnesty International Australia’s Inaugural Human Rights Conference ‘Human Rights: A Pacific Agenda Partnerships and Perspectives’, including programme and registration information:

    To registar for the 2004 Annual Hawke Lecture:

    Bangladesh: Government must stem growing tide of violence

    Amnesty International is seriously concerned about the safety and security of people who are taking part in demonstrations in Bangladesh this week.

  • Nepal: Blockade leads to further abuses of general population

    In a worrying development in the deteriorating situation in Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist) is blockading all vehicles from entering or leaving Kathmandu valley. The area includes three of the 75 districts of the country -- Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. The blockade began on 18 August and has disrupted food and supplies to the city of 1.5million people.

    Peru: A National Human Rights Plan is key to ending the consequences of internal conflict

    The Peruvian government needs to show the necessary political will to put an end to impunity for human rights violations committed during the 20 years of internal conflict.

    Peru: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- first steps towards a country free from injustice

    Facts and figures: >

    Saudi Arabia: Justice must be seen to be done

    The decision of the Saudi Arabian authorities to hold the trial of three men arrested in March in public is a very welcome move in the advancement of human rights in the country

    Guantánamo: Amnesty International delegate to observe first military commission hearings

    Amnesty International delegate to observe first military commission hearings

    Guantánamo detainees: Update on review and trial processes

    Two different processes are under way at Guantánamo. Military commission are being prepared for those prisoners who have been charged under President Bush's Military Order of November 2001. Separate to these, Combatant Status Review Tribunals have been convened to administratively review whether detainees are "enemy combatants" and should remain in detention.

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