Democracy and rights
Sudan is ruled by a transitional council and
a temporary government, in which both military and
civilian forces are represented. They took over power in
the country following a military coup in spring 2019
when President Omar al-Bashir's 30-year regime was
deposed. The Bashir regime was characterized by
harassment of the opposition and serious violations of
human rights. Sudan is now in a transitional phase, and
steps have been taken towards increased democracy.
Multiparty systems prevail. President al-Bashir's old
power party The National Congress Party (NCP) was banned
and dissolved in the fall of 2019.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Sudan, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
During al-Bashir, the opposition had limited
opportunity to act. Popular dissatisfaction and
demonstrations were often fought down with violence.
Freedom of assembly and association as well as freedom
of movement were circumscribed.
Civilian surveillance was widespread. Human rights
organizations were threatened, harassed and forced to
close. Refugees and ethnic minorities were harassed and
discriminated against. Despite the regime change, civil
society space is still around.
The current transitional regime has said that it
prioritizes peace talks with the various resistance
groups in the country, but that it also works for equal
rights for all citizens and for increasing respect for
fundamental human rights. The transitional government
should work for non-violence and democracy. In the fall
of 2019, the UN and the transitional government decided
to set up an office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Khartoum as
well as five regional offices, including Darfur.
The transitional government says it seeks to
strengthen women's rights and opportunities. In
accordance with the electoral laws, women are quoted in
parliament. Almost every third member is now a woman,
compared to every tenth in 2001. The government has also
said it will sign the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw).
However, legislation still discriminates against women
on a number of points (see Social Conditions).
In 2019, Transparency International placed Sudan in
the absolute bottom layer (ranked 173 out of 180
countries) in its index of corruption in the world (see
the full list here). The judicial system and the state
administration are permeated by corruption at all levels
and it is possible to bribe most of it.
The representatives of the old regime had strong
private interests in business via companies without
transparency. Some were run by the National Security
Service (Niss, now renamed Gis), others by individual
members of the now disbanded party NCP, while a third
category is Islamic "charities". The companies without
transparency dominate in the oil and construction
industry and communications, but are found in all parts
of the economy.
Freedom of expression and media
During al-Bashir, the media in Sudan was among the
most heavily controlled by the world. In the conflict
areas of Darfur, the Blue Nile and Kurdufan, the
authorities prevented independent media from attending
and monitoring the events. Censorship and media
monitoring occurred regularly. Newspapers could have
individual editions confiscated by the security service.
Military courts had powers to investigate civilians
who were charged with publishing "false information".
Media workers risk being harassed by the security police
if they did not follow the regime's stance. Journalists
were arbitrarily arrested by the security service.
Since the passing of the Transitional Government,
media and freedom of expression has been strengthened in
the country, but legislation still lacks in protecting
media workers from threats and other harassment. The use
of social media has increased significantly in recent
years, mainly as a result of increased access to the
In 2019 - eight years after the split - Sudan was
still placed near the bottom (175 out of 180 countries
in the world) in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom
Index. A year later, the political changes had resulted
in Sudan being ranked 159 out of 180, an improvement of
16 positions (see the full list here).
Judicial system and legal security
Sudan's judiciary is today largely the same as before
the regime change, although reform has begun. The
judiciary should be independent of the state powers, but
in reality this is not the case.
The judicial order is still mainly based on Islamic
Sharia law. These prohibit alcohol and gambling as well
as punish truncation as punishment for certain thefts.
Sudan can punish the death penalty for crimes such as
espionage, terrorism, war crimes, genocide, rape and
murder but also for such things as adultery, homosexual
acts and prostitution. A disputed law of general order
was abolished in the fall of 2019. According to it,
women could be punished for attending private parties or
for wearing trousers.
The transitional government has promised to work for
Sudan's laws to comply with international standards. It
has also said that the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT)
should be signed. Work has also been started on curbing
impunity and reforming the national security service.
Human rights violations in conflict-affected areas -
Darfur, South Kurdufan and Blue Nile - have been
widespread and very serious. Even outside the conflict
areas, the situation for human rights has been difficult
with systematic torture, abuse, rape and inhumane
punishments by various security forces and intelligence
agencies. In its advancement, the government army has
destroyed schools, hospitals and health clinics as well
as prevented humanitarian aid from reaching internally
displaced persons and other civilians. Resistance groups
have also been guilty of human rights violations.
Conditions in prisons and detention are difficult.
Arbitrary detention, prolonged isolation, political
interference in legal processes, a lack of legal
security and the blocking of humanitarian aid to
arrested and imprisoned persons occur. The impunity for
human rights violations is widespread, especially for
military personnel and various security forces.
In the summer of 2019, most of the political
prisoners who were detained under al-Bashir and during
the popular protests that led to his fall were released.
Legal proceedings against al-Bashir
As a result of the war in Darfur, in July 2010,
President al-Bashir, as first head of state, was called
for by the International Criminal Court in The Hague
(ICC) for genocide. Already in the summer of 2008, the
Chief Prosecutor at the ICC had requested that al-Bashir
be arrested for crimes against humanity and war crimes
in Darfur. Al-Bashir denied all charges and refused to
appear in The Hague.
In December 2014, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in The
Hague closed the investigation into war crimes in
Darfur. She pointed out that it was impossible to get
the defendants in place before the court and blamed the
defeat mainly on the passivity of the UN Security
Council. Bensouda said the Security Council's lack of
action risked "encouraging perpetrators to continue
After the regime change in the spring of 2019,
al-Bashir was sentenced in December of that year to a
two-year house arrest for bribery. In February 2020, the
transitional government announced that Sudan was ready
to extradite al-Bashir and three of his closest men to
the ICC for judicial review.
Rebel leaders are suspected of murder
The ICC Court in The Hague initiates a preliminary investigation against two
rebel leaders in Darfur for the murder of ten AU soldiers in September 2007.
One-sided ceasefire in Darfur
President al-Bashir announces ceasefire in Darfur, but the largest rebel
groups say they will continue to fight for political and economic influence.
Transitional government in Abyei
In accordance with the "Roadmap", a provisional administration for the Abyei
border district is set up.
Al-Bashir is accused of war crimes
President al-Bashir is accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in
The Hague of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur (see also
"Roadmap for Abyei"
Following pressure from the United States, the North and South sides
government parties, the NCP and the SPLM, enter into a new agreement which means
that the parties jointly appoint an international commission to determine
Abyei's borders. The Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague assumes the
UN envoy resigns
At the turn of the year, the Swedish Jan Eliasson resigns as UN Special Envoy
for Darfur, a mission he has held since 2006.
Struggles erupt in Abyei
Nearly 100 people are killed and 90,000 are fleeing as the north side army
clashes with the south side forces in the city of Abyei. UN evacuates personnel.
JEM attack outside the capital
The JEM rebel movement from Darfur goes to attack a suburb of Khartoum. A few
hundred people are killed before the attack is fought back. Many rebels are
sentenced to death. The Khartoum government accuses Chad of being involved in
the attack and breaks relations with the neighboring country.
Hundreds of thousands dead in Darfur
UN humanitarian chief John Holmes estimates that up to 300,000 people may
have died as a result of the Darfur conflict.
A promised nationwide census is initiated under great skepticism from the
south. The result will form the basis for, among other things, the upcoming
referendum on possible independence for the south and the distribution of common
Tensions are rising in Abyei
The SPLM government in southern Sudan establishes its own administration in
the disputed, oil-rich border area of Abyei, despite a previous agreement that
the district should be jointly governed by the north and south. Northern Sudan
sees this as a breach of the 2005 peace treaty.
Tens of thousands of new internal refugees in Darfur
Another 50,000 people are forced to flee within Darfur, where the fighting
continues despite the presence of Unamid. The peace force appeals for
Assistance does not reach darfuries
Aid organizations say they cannot reach out with their aid to certain parts
of Darfur because the government side is bombing rebel areas.
Unamid is placed out
The peacekeeping force Unamid is starting to deploy its soldiers in Darfur,
despite being understaffed and lacking essential equipment.