UN Independent Expert on human rights in Sudan [official website], Mashood Adebayo Baderin, said Friday after his third visit to Sudan [BBC backgrounder] that the human rights situation in the country has undergone positive improvements, but expressed his concern about the ongoing hostilities [press release] in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan States. Baderin acknowledged the significant improvement in access to humanitarian aid in government-controlled areas. However, the expert noted that the rebel-controlled areas "continue to deteriorate as a result of the belligerent activities of the parties to the conflict. I have also been informed that many displaced and vulnerable civilians have been forced to move further south without access to basic necessities such as water and food." He stated that the living conditions in the internally displaced person camps were particularly terrible for women and children. Baderin once again urged the government to protect citizens' freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, along with the freedom of the press. "These rights are integral to the creation of an enabling environment that allow for civic participation in the country, where all citizens are free to express their view without fear of reprisals from authorities."
There has been significant international attention surrounding the human rights violations in Sudan. Ali Kosheib, former militia leader wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for crimes against humanity and war crimes in West Darfur in 2003 and 2004, was spotted in an attack [JURIST report] against Salamat communities in Central Darfur [JURIST news archive] in April. Deputy commander of the JEM-Bashar Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus [ICC case summary], also wanted by the ICC, was reportedly killed in Northern Darfur in April. Jamus was charged in connection with an attack on African Union (AU) [official website] Peace Keepers in September 2007 at Haskanita [BBC backgrounder], which resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers. Despite the loss of high-profile leaders, fighting in Sudan has continued as the trials of leaders move forward. In December the ICC called upon [JURIST report] the UN to do more in Darfur. In October a UN rights office urged [JURIST report] Sudan to investigate an ambush on a UN convoy. That same office asked [JURIST report] Sudan to investigate violence against peaceful protesters in the region.