GENEVA, May 22 – The Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch condemned this morning’s election of Sudan as Vice-Chair of the U.N. committee that accredits and oversees the work of non-governmental human rights groups at the world body, noting that the Khartoum regime persecutes human rights activists, while its leader, Omar al-Bashir, remains wanted for genocide at the International Criminal Court.
“Electing Sudan to oversee the work of human rights activists at the U.N. is like picking the fox to guard the henhouse, as he is still wiping the feathers off his mouth from his last meal,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“This election is absurd, and casts a shadow upon the reputation of the United Nations as a whole,” said Neuer.
The diplomat elected to represent Sudan on the committee was Mr. Hassan Idriss Ahmed Salih.
“It underscores the degree to which this vital committee—which has the power to suspend the U.N. credentials of human rights groups—has been hijacked by the world’s worst dictatorships.”
Rogues’ Gallery Includes Iran, China, Russia, Turkey…
Neuer noted that a majority of the 19 member states are regimes that are hostile to human rights activists, including Iran, Burundi, China, Cuba, Iran, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and Venezuela.
“Regrettably, while India and South Africa are democracies, they too often vote with the dictatorships,” said Neuer.
Venezuela’s representative today quickly congratulated Sudan on its election.
Sudan Persecutes NGOs
Despite its U.N. election today, Sudan is notorious for persecuting NGO activists:
- Human rights groups have been raided by police, their files seized without warrant, with NGO activists summoned, interrogated, arrested and imprisoned.
- Sudan’s government in recent years has closed civil society organizations or refused to register them on several occasions.
- Government and security forces arbitrarily enforce provisions of the NGO law, including measures that strictly regulate an organization’s ability to receive foreign financing and register public activities.
- In 2015, for example, authorities rejected or failed to approve applications to reregister more than 40 registered organizations and began investigations into their activities, according to the Sudanese Confederation of Civil Society.
- Under the government’s “Sudanization” policy, many organizations faced administrative difficulties if they refuse to involve pro-government groups.
- Organizations report delays in obtaining permits to hold general assembly meetings, an attempt to disrupt the organizations’ work or force them out of compliance with government regulations.