Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Sudan is governed according to a power-sharing arrangement established by the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the 22-year civil war between the North and South and established the interim Government of National Unity (GNU). The CPA provides a framework for democratic transformation; however, implementation of the agreement has been slow and tensions persist. Delays in CPA implementation, particularly the provisions governing redeployment of forces from the border areas, continue to foment insecurity. The country continues to experience several violent conflicts, including the conflict in Darfur. Government forces, government-aligned militia (janjaweed), Darfur rebel groups, and contending tribal factions all continue to commit serious abuses. Hundreds of thousands of persons have died; 2.7 million civilians have been internally displaced; and an estimated 250,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Chad since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003.

The GNU's human rights record is poor. Human rights abuses include abridgement of citizens' rights to change their government; extrajudicial and other unlawful killings by government forces and other government-aligned groups; disappearances, torture, beatings, rape by security forces; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; executive interference with the judiciary and denial of due process; obstruction of the delivery of humanitarian assistance; restrictions on privacy and freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement; harassment of internally displaced persons and of local and international human rights and humanitarian organizations; violence and discrimination against women and ethnic minorities; child abuse, including sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers; trafficking in persons, including tribal abductions; denial of workers' rights; and forced and child labor. Human rights abuses reported in the south include extrajudicial killings and abuse by members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA); poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest; use of child soldiers and child labor; interethnic violence; and abduction of women and children. The Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel movement formerly based in Uganda, made incursions into southern Sudan and attacked and killed civilians.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

U.S. priorities for promoting democratic principles and human rights in the country include leading international efforts to resolve the conflict in Darfur and working to ensure the robust and credible implementation of the CPA. Responding to humanitarian needs is also a strong U.S. priority. The United States is the largest humanitarian donor to the country.

Other democracy and human rights issues that are important to the United States include efforts to combat violence against women in Darfur; the passage of reformed legislation on press and national security; facilitating the conduct of credible elections; improvements to governance capacity in the south, including rule of law; and civil society capacity building.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States continues to respond to the crisis in Darfur by providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations, enabling the deployment of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and working toward a lasting political settlement. The United States pays more than one-fourth of the total cost of UNAMID through UN assessed contributions, and in 2008 U.S. funding supported UNAMID's human rights office. U.S. assistance promotes the rights of vulnerable civilians affected by the conflict, particularly women. This assistance includes capacity building for Darfuri women activists, programs that address gender-based violence, and the provision of food aid. In support of peacekeeping operations in the region, the United States provided peacekeeping forces with substantial financial and technical assistance, including airlifting, training, housing, and equipping troops. The United States continues to support efforts by the international community to promote a comprehensive political settlement for Darfur through peace negotiations. Former U.S. presidential special envoys have visited Darfur on numerous occasions, as has the U.S. charge d'affaires. Other U.S. officials visit Darfur for extended periods. The United States also provides training to Sudan Liberation Movement–Minni Minawi members on the transformation of the group from an armed movement to a viable political party.

The U.S. democracy assistance strategy to support the implementation of the CPA focuses on power sharing, wealth sharing, resolution of the status of the Three Areas (Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile), and security arrangements. The United States provides robust nationwide support for preparation for national elections, as called for in the CPA, including technical assistance to the National Election Commission, training for political parties, and civic and voter education, as well as domestic and international observation. The United States supports capacity building for key government of Southern Sudan ministries; promotes independent media through support to short-wave radio programming and community radio stations; provides technical assistance for completion of the April 2008 census, notably data processing and eventual dissemination of results; provides support for the development of a professional and responsive criminal justice system that promotes the rule of law; and provides long-term capacity building to nascent civil society organizations across Southern Sudan and the Three Areas. The United States is facilitating the transformation of the SPLA to a more professional and accountable military force that respects human rights. This includes providing technical advisors to work with the SPLA to improve transparency and the division of labor between the SPLA and Southern Sudan Police Services. U.S. assistance also includes programs for the Three Areas to increase state and local government capacity to provide essential public services and to engage marginalized communities in participatory planning and budgeting. CPA implementation is also supported by U.S. activities to teach communities to monitor implementation of the agreement, advocate for their rights, and learn about free and fair election practices.

U.S. programs support civil society efforts to promote human rights and democracy. For example, to address the arbitrary detention of persons after the May 2008 Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attack on Omdurman, the United States provided funding to assist with detainees' legal representation. U.S. officials meet regularly with civil society members. The United States advocates for the inclusion of independent civil society groups in Darfur peace negotiations. U.S. public diplomacy efforts in 2008 included numerous video conferences that were held between civil society members and speakers from the United States to increase dialogue about topics such as elections and education.

U.S. officials, including the charge d'affaires, regularly discuss rule of law with government officials and stress the need to follow the human rights guarantees provided by the Interim National Constitution. In 2008 the U.S. Government issued numerous statements condemning the government's human rights violations, including the detention of prominent opposition political party leaders, the shutdown of media outlets, the expulsion of international NGOs, and the arrests of Khartoum-based journalists during a protest against censorship. The U.S. Government coordinated the international effort in Khartoum to track unlawful detentions committed after the May 2008 JEM attack and to address the subject of human rights violations with the government. The United States also continues to emphasize the importance of ending the use of child soldiers. U.S. officials engage with the government on religious freedom issues, and commissioners from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom visited the country in 2008.