GENEVA – Progress is being made in Sudan’s transition to a democratic government, but the process could relapse without international support and guidance, a U.N. investigator warned.

The U.N. independent expert on human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, said that since his report last year, there have been some welcome developments and efforts by the transitional government to address systemic human rights and rule-of-law concerns in the African country. 

Commitments have been made to tackle impunity and to improve access to justice, he said. He also welcomed the initialing of the peace agreement on August 31 to end the conflicts in Sudan, but urged two holdout armed groups to join that agreement. 

Nononsi also raised concerns that the budding democracy could be going off the rails, pointing to a decision to dismiss more than 350 judges and legal advisers. He said the dismissal was a troubling violation to the independence of the judiciary. 

Also troubling to Nononsi: an apparent erosion of Sudan’s civic space. He cited the recent arrest of 11 Sudanese artists who were sentenced to two months in prison on charges of being a public nuisance for chanting at a police station. 

“Moreover, there are serious allegations of ill treatment of the artists during their arrest and detention, as well as concerns over the administration of justice. … Long-standing discrimination and inequality continue to plague Sudanese society, negatively affecting the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights,” he said.

Sudan’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Ali Ibn Mahmoud, said the transitional government has made progress in reaching a global sustainable peace agreement, and a deal will be signed Saturday with the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, an alliance of four strong rebel groups.   

The ambassador said Sudan’s government is ready to cooperate with U.N. and human rights mechanisms, and seeks to protect and promote human rights universally.

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