Mr. Hassan Sheikh Idriss - Member of Sovereign council
Mr. Nasredeen Abdel Barri - the Minister of Justice,
Let me warmly welcome you and thank you all for joining us here today to celebrate the International Human Rights Day.
It is a longstanding tradition that the EU Delegation in Khartoum celebrates the International Human Rights Day on the Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. And as a newcomer to this Delegation it is an honor and a pleasure for me to host you here tonight.
You may be wondering why I am wearing the orange tie today. You might think it is because I am Dutch and Orange is a typically Dutch color. It is, but that is not the reason. The reason is that Orange is also the color associated with activism against violence against women and girls. Today also marks the end of this year's manifestations of sixteen days of Activism against gender based violence. Throughout the world during the past sixteen days people have mobilized and advocated for an equal and safe space for women and girls. This coincides very aptly with our celebration tonight. Hence the tie. I will come back to this.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Human rights are at the heart of the EU's international engagement. They are part and parcel of the founding values of our Union. Based on its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law worldwide, the EU stands up and continues without relent to support human rights and basic freedoms, to speak out against human rights violations and to use political and financial engagements to support them.
This year, in Sudan, the celebration of Human Rights Day is very special and unique since the celebration is taking place one year after the start of what has become a great Sudanese peaceful revolution. Today the country is full of hope and optimism.
I would like to praise the determination and moral force of the people of Sudan, who have maintained peaceful civil disobedience for several months, until the Bashir regime gave in to the pressure and stepped down. They continued to demand their democratic, civilian space after the ousting of the regime. And even the use of excessive force and gunfire at the protesters to disperse them, did not dissuade them from defying the pressure and standing up for their rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I come back to the issue of the tie.
The Sudanese revolution has not been called the women's revolution for nothing. The women of Sudan have been on the frontlines of the Protests since day one. Young women in particular, have played an active and vocal role in the revolution and their presence, participation and visibility in the protests have inspired the Sudanese population and the world.
In leading this revolution, the women of Sudan insisted that they will not compromise on gender equality, social justice, and women's rights. The banners said "revolution is a woman". Andy rightly so!
Sudanese women have broken taboos to become the face of the revolution. They have explicitly added a list of demands to the revolution including women equal rights and equal political participation, Zero tolerance to violence, sexual harassment and violence.
If it had not been for the brave and courageous Sudanese women, I don't think the revolution would have happened. Women being in the frontlines of the protest ended up adding a very meaningful and poetic touch to the revolution.
I strongly believe that Sudanese Women are great women and they are the granddaughters of the powerful Condace (Kandake) the queens of Nubia great and powerful women in the Human History.
However peaceful the revolution was (and is), it did come at a cost. People have lost their lives, people have suffered serious and permanent injuries. We want to offer our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the victims who died during the struggle for democracy and human rights and wish a quick recovery to those injured. The price they paid should never prove to have been in vain.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The signing of the constitutional declaration and the establishment of the transitional government in Sudan has created a unique opportunity to restore the principles of good governance, rule of law and promotion and protection of human rights in the country.
Economic, social and political injustices and grievances were the main causes for the Sudanese revolution. The most common slogans of the Sudanese revolution "Liberty, peace and justice" show the depth of the people's aspirations for human rights as well as the crucial role of human rights in the revolution. Therefore, respect and promotion of human rights should come first in the agenda for change. Let me mention a few important aspects of such an agenda:
First and foremost the country needs peace. Conflict and civil war in the country are among the main causes behind human rights violations. Urgent and genuine efforts and action are required to put an end to the ongoing conflicts and to ensure that human rights and humanitarian law principles are respected, in particular protection of civilian population.
Leave no one behind
In all efforts to promote human rights special attention should be paid to the rights of people in the rural and remote areas of Sudan and an inclusive approach should be adopted to ensure that no one is left behind. Rights of people should also specifically be included.
Rule of law
Legal reform is essential to ensure that all laws and legislations are in line with the constitutional declaration and the International and Regional human rights conventions which have been ratified by the country. In this context we warmly welcome the recent repealing of the Public Order Act and congratulate the entire transitional government on commitment of the transitional government to ratify the international and regional human rights treaties and conventions which Sudan has not yet ratified. The EU stands ready to assist, if needed, the Sudanese authorities in order to facilitate the full ratification of these international and regional treaties and to promote political dialogue with the Sudanese Government to promote human rights.
Justice for all
Urgent actions need to be undertaken to end impunity and ensure that all the suspects of human rights violations are prosecuted. We welcome the appointment of an independent committee to investigate the events of 3rd of June 2019. The world will be watching diligently the outcome and its consequences.
Finally, last but certainly not least, the role of civil society
Support to civil society and human rights defenders is an integral part of our policy on human rights. Sudanese civil society organizations and Human rights defenders represent natural and indispensable allies in the promotion of human rights and democratization in Sudan. We call for conducive policy to allow civil society and human rights defenders to effectively promote human rights in the country. We as EU will continue to build our partnerships and cooperation with civil society partners to foster their resilience and capacity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In its efforts to promote human Rights the EU has for the last six years awarded human rights prizes to persons and institutions who have contributed to human rights in Sudan. Our prizes have been received by prominent human rights defenders, lawyers, universities and civil society organizations and we are proud and honoured to have them with us today.
This year, we have decided that our prize will not go to a specific person or institution. In recognition of the courage, determination and perseverance in demanding equality, human rights and justice for all, we award this year's prize to the people of Sudan. They have endured and they have suffered. Yet, they have faltered neither in their belief nor their convictions. This is truly remarkable and deeply admirable.
Thank you all for your presence which demonstrates your commitment to human rights in Sudan.