Freedom in Sudan

The Political Context, State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Capital: Khartoum

Population: 40,533,330

GDP 2017 (US$ million): 117,487.86 

Language: Arabic, English

Political Regime Type: One-Party State Under Authoritarian Dictatorship

President: Omar al-Bashir

Current Political Context

  • Despite the government’s unilateral ceasefire and reduced fighting in all three zones, government forces and allied militia attacked civilians including in displaced persons camps
  • Former US President Barack Obama issued an executive order promising to lift broad economic sanctions if Sudan met certain conditions which were lifted in October; however, these measures did not require measurable improvements in human rights
  • UN Security Council renewed the peacekeeping missions in Darfur through June 2018, agreeing to reduction as part of an exit plan lobbied for by Sudan

State of Democracy

  • The National Congress Party (NCP) has had absolute power for nearly 28 years
  • Key opposition parties boycotted the elections in 2015 when the government failed to meet their preconditions, including a cessation of hostilities, holding of an inclusive “national dialogue,” and fostering of a favorable environment for discussions between the government and opposition on needed reforms and the peace process
  • Only 46% of eligible voters participated in the elections while others believe for it to be lower
  • Following the conclusions of the national dialogue, a government initiative to address political grievances, the president appointed a prime minister to implement recommendations and form a new government—however many opposition parties rejected the dialogue process
  • Sudanese law discriminates against women and girls in various ways

State of Rule of Law

  • Government authorities do not investigate human rights violations by the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS), the military, or any other branch of security services
  • Sudan’s parliament passed the Rapid Support Forces act to regulate the force, but forces continued to operate under the same commander independently of the army

State of Human Rights

  • The human rights record is defined by government repression and violations of basic civil political rights, restriction of religious freedoms, and disregard for obligations on civilian protection under international humanitarian law
  • National security agency has detained student activists, human rights defenders, members of opposition parties and journalists
  • Civil society organisations and political opposition parties’ activities are extensively restricted by the NISS
  • Newspaper editors and journalists are regularly controlled and instructed not to cover any subjects considered a threat to security 
  • Authorities and government security forces tend to use excessive force to break up protests across the country
  • Sudan continues to receive many South Sudanese refuges with 183,500 arrived in 2017 alone

Freedom House Democracy Index Score (2018): 8/100