US diplomat for talks on freedoms and human rights in Sudan
Feb.22, Sudan: The U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights, Steven Feldstein, will be holding official talks today with Sudanese officials in the issues of freedoms and human rights.
Official news agency of Sudan, SUNA, has quoted on Saturday that the foreign ministry spokesperson Youssef al-Kordofani, as saying the American official will meet with the undersecretaries of the foreign and justice ministries besides the rapporteur of human rights and the chairman of the National elections Commissions (NEC).
The American officials will also meet on Monday with the head of the National Council for Press and Publication (NCPP) Ali Shomo and the secretary general of the Political Parties Affairs Council (APPAC) Mohmaed Adam Ismail.
Informed diplomatic sources told Sudan Tribune that the American official will raise the issues of political and press freedoms besides the situation in conflict areas particularly Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile during the meetings.
Feldstein’s week-long official visit includes field visits to conflict areas in Darfur and the Two Areas.
The Sudanese government has been fighting the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile since 2011 and Darfur rebels since 2003.
Al-Kordofani pointed out that the visit of the American official comes within the framework of the ongoing dialogue with the US. He also said, “Feldstein will receive first-hand information instead of using information provided by sources lacking credibility and have hidden agenda”.
He added that the visit of the American official comes in the wake of the recent visits of presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour and foreign minister Ali Karti, who traveled to Washington at the official invitation of the US administration and Congress.
The United states Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last Tuesday amended Sudan’s sanctions to allow exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops.
The US special envoy to Sudans Donald Booth on Tuesday emphasized that this move aims to help ordinary citizens by connecting them to the rest of the World and to further free speech.
“These changes are consistent with our commitment to promote freedom of expression through access to communications tools,” Booth told reporters.
“These changes also support our aim to help Sudanese citizens integrate in the global digital community,” he added.
Meanwhile, SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman in a press statement called on the American official not to allow the Sudanese government make use of his visit to continue its three-decade of human rights violations.
“We expect the visit to help in focusing attention on the gross human rights violations being committed every day by the Sudanese government,” he said in the statement.
The statement further said that the Sudanese government may be the only government in Africa today that is using its air force against its own civilian populations in a wide geographical range extending from Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains to Darfur.
“Sudanese air force is targeting hospitals, clinics, water wells and schools and this constitute a war crime according to the international humanitarian law,” Arman said.
The SPLM-N official further pointed out that “prominent leaders of democratic forces and civil society organisations including the head of the opposition alliance National Consensus Forces (NCF), Farouk Abu Issa, and Amin Mekki Madani and Farah Agar are imprisoned at the same time of the American official’s visit to Khartoum.
The Oslo Times