European Parliament Committee for Foreign Affairs held today an exchange of views with Ms. Rosalind Marsden, EU Special Representative for Sudan. Chairwoman Hautala called for the Special Representative to ensure that human rights protection on the ground be strengthened by the EU Delegation.[:]
Ms Hautala noted that the human rights situation in Sudan remains grim even despite the security concerns of many recent years. Ms Hautala also today met with the human rights defenders Ali Agab and Abdel Monim Elgak from Sudan.
She expressed her grave concern to the Special Representative over the widespread persecution and harassment of human rights defenders by the security forces.
“It also is very clear that the EU Delegation in Khartoum could do so much more. No real effort with human rights defenders has been made,” she pointed out and asked if the Special Representative would make sure that EU put in place an effective human rights officer mandate, so called human rights focal point, at the EU Delegation in Khartoum, as soon as possible. The vacancy exists but it appears that no efficient measures have been taken to support the civil society.
Ms Hautala underlined that the human rights officer should work, in particular, closely with civil society in Sudan and start for instance by organising a workshop with them to discuss the best ways to cooperate.
It would also be recommendable that the focal point liaise with the government officials to end the persecution and violence by security forces towards the civic activists. The human rights officer should also see that effective local strategy on human rights defenders is in place. But most importantly, this officer should ensure that the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders must be implemented in Sudan.
In the hearing, another important matter was raised. Several representatives were concerned what the EU will do if Mr Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, decides to attend the EU-African Union Summit to be held 20th of October. Mr Al-Bashir is under warrant of arrest by the International Criminal Court but has refused to cooperate. Ms Marsden assured the Committee that EU is fully committed to cooperation with the ICC and has expressed its views on refusal of cooperation by Mr Al-Bashir strongly.