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NOTA FARNESINA – Freedom of religion in Sudan

As part of its international commitment to freedom of religion or belief, Italy has promoted – within the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief (ICG-FORB) – a joint declaration on Sudan, aimed at expressing satisfaction and support for the democratic transition and reform process undertaken by the Transitional Government under civilian leadership.

This process, accompanied by significant efforts in the promotion of human rights, in particular freedom of religion or belief, is contributing to the improvement of the country’s relations at international level and has already led to important results: among others, the abolition of the death penalty against minors, the inclusion of the practice of female genital mutilation among crimes punishable by law, a policy of openness towards freedom of the press and significant steps forward in the area of freedom of religion and belief – including the inclusion in the Constitution of the right to freedom of religion, the abolition of apostasy as a crime – which will be central to strengthening the democratic transition process.

In the joint declaration promoted by Italy – to which 13 other countries have adhered, starting with the Co-Chairs of the Contact Group (United States and Canada), as well as Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – the Sudanese authorities are encouraged to continue along the excellent path undertaken, respecting the commitments announced on the promotion of human rights, in particular freedom of religion and belief.


Joint Statement on Sudan 

August 26, 2020

The governments of Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of America welcome the process of democratic transition and reform undertaken by the Sudanese civilian-led transitional government during the last year, as well as the improvement of relations with its international partners. 

We welcome the civilian-led government’s efforts to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in the framework of its reform and national reconciliation process, which have led to significant improvements, such as the repeal of the public order law, the abolition of apostasy as a criminal offence, the abolition of the death penalty for children, amendments to male guardianship laws, the new policy on press freedom and the criminalization of female genital mutilation. 

We particularly welcome Sudan’s steps forward in the field of freedom of religion or belief. We are confident that measures such as the provision of the right to freedom of religious belief and worship by the 2019 Constitutional Declaration, efforts to counter discrimination and hate based on religion or belief, the inclusion of Christmas among national holidays and the recent decriminalization of apostasy will positively contribute to the ongoing process of democratic transition and national reconciliation, and we stress the importance of their swift implementation. We also welcome additional steps, such as the appointment of a Coptic Christian on the Sovereign Council, the suspension of a law requiring Christian schools to conduct classes on Sundays, the disbanding of former-regime-appointed Church Councils, the opening of court proceedings for return of land confiscated from Christian communities by the previous regime, the welcoming of religious minorities back to Sudan and inter-religious workshops and discussions hosted by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowment.

We are glad to note that such significant steps have been acknowledged and welcomed by a number of international partners, and we encourage Sudanese authorities to make further progress and to fulfill commitments made to date to promote and protect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, particularly in considering Sudan’s election to the Human Rights Council for the 2020 to 2022 term.


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