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Sudan[1] [print]

Last edited: February 2006

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Due to the tragic civil war and genocide in the Sudan, it is difficult to determine the state of affairs regarding child protective proceedings in the country.  Certainly the Convention on the Rights of the Child is part of the domestic law of the Sudan.[2]  That said we have not come across conclusive evidence that child protective proceedings are currently occurring in the Sudan.  Of more concern, the Sudan does not always even acknowledge that violence and ill-treatment can occur within a Sudanese family.[3] 

 

Children in the Sudan face daunting situations.  Thousands of children have been abducted and enslaved in the context of the armed conflict in the Sudan, as well as for commercial gain.[4]  Both the Government and opposition forces have used children as soldiers.  Professionals that work with children, such as teachers, have been recruited by the military.  Landmines continue to threaten the lives of children, even in areas where armed conflict is no longer taking place.  Government forces have conducted indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.  Further, access to the needy populations by humanitarian organizations has sometimes been impeded.[5] 

 

In terms of children's rights, the Sudan signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on July 24, 1990 and ratified it on August 3, 1990.  The country has not yet signed or ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. 

 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has consistently expressed concern with the implementation of the Convention in the Sudan, and specifically with Article 12.[6]  In its most recent report, the Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that even minimal implementation of the Convention is difficult based on the negative impact of the Sudanese armed conflict on children.  In addition, though non-State actors have de facto control of areas of the State's party's territory (notably in southern Sudan), the Committee emphasized the full responsibility of the State party.  It also invited all other parties to respect child rights within the area under their control.[7]

 

More specifically, the Committee stated, ". the Committee remains concerned that the views of the child, especially girls, are not often respected and may be seen as contrary to traditional concepts of the role of the family, clan and tribe."[8]  It is also concerned that physical and psychological abuse occurs within the family, but is not adequately monitored, reported upon or addressed.  The Committee recommended that Sudan establish "effective child-sensitive procedures and mechanisms for the reporting, monitoring and investigation of instances of child abuse, and intervene where necessary."[9]

 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted specific objection to how the Sudan treats its "vagrant children," and has even noted objection to that very term.  It has recommended that Sudan change its ".definition and policies with regard to street children, ensuring that these children are seen as victims of their circumstances and are not criminalized."[10] 

 

In addition, the Committee was concerned by the current and long-standing economic difficulties faced by Sudan, including a high level of foreign debt and dependency on declining foreign assistance.[11]

 

The Sudan for its part reports that the views of children are protected.  It notes that former Constitutions have enshrined rights of all Sudanese to express their opinions, and that much of the legislation enacted under these Constitutions is still in force.[12]  The country provides reference to specific legislation that allows the child to institute legal proceedings through his or her legal guardian and to provide testimony, but it does not provide reference to legislation that specifically protects the voice of the child.[13] It also notes that under the laws regulating court proceedings, all parties to a lawsuit are given every opportunity to make their views know, but again does not provide reference to legislation specifically protecting the voice of the child.[14]

 

Sudan prefers to maintain the family unit in almost all situations.  It reported, "[T]he Sudanese family never uses ill-treatment or violence, in accordance with the teaching and precepts of religion and custom."[15]  In regard to vagrant children, arrangements are left to the courts.  The Sudan does not specify if the court must consider the child's voice.  It is clear that the Sudan prefers at all times to place such children back with their families.  The country stated, "The Sudanese experience in caring for such children has established that the family and the community offer the best form of care and that institutional care should be used only as a last resort."[16]

 

Though Islamic law prohibits adoption under any circumstances, it does encourage the kafalah system.[17]  When neither protection by the family of origin nor that of a foster family can be found, the Government, voluntary associations, and international and regional organizations have tried to enable children to benefit from institutional protection.  There has been a constant trend in favor of kafalah for children born of unknown parents and orphans, thus removing them from the context of social protection.  The Sudan's rationale is that in this way, children can be brought up in a natural social environment that will give them an education and a place in society.[18]

 

On a more positive note, the Sudan does report that The National Council for Child Welfare has run several training and information seminars on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  This may have been in response to a NGO report that stated that up until 1997, many children and adults whose job was connected to children were not aware of or familiar with the CRC.[19]  The seminars targeted judges, legal advisors, lawyers, parents and all other concerned parties, including public servants assigned to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other pertinent international instruments.  All state authorities, such as the state councils, were also targeted by training seminars.[20]

 

Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005, the people of the Sudan created a new constitution referred to as the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan.  The new constitution was reportedly "committed to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, guided by the 1998 Constitution and the Sudanese constitutional experience since independence and other relevant experiences."[21]  At this time it has not yet been ratified, but we have provided the relevant texts of the most recent draft.  The draft specifically notes that the State shall protect the rights of the child as provided in the international and regional conventions ratified by the Sudan.[22]

 

The Sudanese Child Act 2004[23] provides for the basic rights of all children, and provides specific rules in numerous areas including education, healthcare, and imprisonment.   There are not any specific provisions regarding the voice of the child in child protective proceedings though.  It is due to be revised after the Interim Constitution is signed.  In the meantime, it is in force but not currently being implemented.[24] 

 

Based on the uncertain political situation, it is at times difficult to determine which Sudanese legislation is in effect.  That said we have not yet found any that specifically protects the voice of the child in child protective proceedings.  The full text of the "Law of the New Sudan," which will theoretically eventually be in force in Southern Sudan, is available at the website of the Gurtong Peace Project (see below).  We have not listed any specific legislation due to the ever changing political situation.

 

 

Sources of Law

 

Constitution

 

Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan (2005) (draft)

 

Part One

Chapter II

Article 14. Children, Youth and Sports [25]

(1) The State shall adopt policies and provide facilities for child and youth welfare and ensure that they develop morally and physically, and protect them from moral and physical abuse and abandonment. 

 

 

Part Two

Bill of Rights

Article 32.  Rights of Women and Children[26]

 

(5) The State shall protect the rights of the child as provided in the international and regional conventions ratified by the Sudan.

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child[27]

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Gurtong Peace Project

http://www.gurtong.org/default.asp

 

Save the Children

http://www.savethechildren.org/countries/africa/sudan.asp

 

UNICEF

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/sudan.html

 

United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)

www.unmis.org

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention; Periodic reports of States parties due in 1997 SUDAN, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, 353, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.17 (2001), available as .pdf Document.

[3] Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention; Initial reports of States parties due in 1992; Addendum: Sudan, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, 67, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.3 (1992), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention; Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: the Sudan, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31st Sess. at 61, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.190 (2002), available as .pdf Document.

[5] Id. at 59-60.

[6] Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention; Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: the Sudan, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, 4th Sess. at 12, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.10 (1993), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[7] U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.190 (2002), supra note 3, at 6.

[8] Id. at 31.

[9] Id. at 39-40.

[10] Id. at 68.

[11] Id. at 7.

[12] U.N. Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.17 (2001), supra note 1, at 79.

[13] Id. at 80.

[14] Id. at 120.

[15]U.N. Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.3 (1992), supra note 2, at 64.

[16] U.N. Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.17 (2001), supra note 1, at 158.

[17] Id. at 15.

[18] U.N. Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.3 (1992), supra note 2, at 64.

[19] Friends of Children Society (AMAL), The Status of Implementation of the Child Rights Convention In the Sudan, Submitted to the U.N. Committee for the Rights of the Child (June 2002), available as .pdf Document.

[20] U.N. Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.17 (2001), supra note 1, at 352.

[21] Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan (2005 draft), available as .pdf Document.Part 2 available as .pdf Document.

[22] Id. at art. 32.

[23] Provisional Decree, Child Act, 2004 (Sudan), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[24] United Nations Mission in Sudan Child Protection Unit, Checklist on children's justice; due process and prison conditions (June 2005), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[26] Id. at art. 32.

[27] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/treaties/crc.htm

 

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