Discriminatory Passport Policies: Challenges Faced by Sudanese Citizens of Arab Ethnicity

(Kampala) – The Darfur Network for Human Rights (DNHR) has received alarming reports concerning the current de facto government of Sudan, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who has been governing from the city of Port Sudan since late October 2023, with the Rapid Support Force (RSF) controlling much of the capital city of Khartoum. The DNHR has learned that the government is refusing to renew passports for individuals of Arab ethnicity or those belonging to Arab tribes in Darfur region.

Jadu (name changed), a Sudanese refugee in Uganda, shared his ordeal with DNHR, stating, “If you are from an Arab tribe, especially from the Darfur region, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) believes you support the RSF. I was denied passport renewal at the Sudanese embassy in Kampala.” The officer stated, ‘We cannot renew your passport.’ Without a passport, I cannot travel to another country to seek employment, and I have been unable to find work in Uganda.”

Similar incidents have been reported at the Sudanese embassy in Juba, South Sudan. A resident of East Darfur said, “We do not support any faction in the war; we only seek peace. Yet, we are treated like criminals in our own country.” His passport renewal request was also denied. Another refugee recounted being mocked by an embassy officer who callously advised them to return home for passport renewal despite the absence of any functioning government office in the Darfur and Kordofan regions.

Since the conflict began, 1.8 million Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan, comprising people of both Arab and Black ethnicities. Many Sudanese have further migrated worldwide to escape the conflict. However, the discriminatory actions of the de facto Sudanese government against individuals of Arab ethnicity are impeding their freedom of movement and access to essential services.

Chapter 14 of Sudan’s 2019 Constitution, “The Bill of Rights and Freedoms,” contains Article 43, which mandates equality regardless of race, among other factors. The state must protect and reinforce the rights outlined in the Constitution without discrimination based on race, colour, gender, language, religion, political opinion, social status, or any other reason. By denying passport renewals based on ethnicity, the de facto government is violating both the Sudanese Constitution and international human rights standards, including Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which Sudan ratified in 1977.

However, on April 24, 2024, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Sudan released an official statement calling these allegations baseless and affirming that the Sudanese government believes in equality and is treating its citizens equally, but DNHR had investigated and confirmed these acts being done against the Sudanese of Arab ethnicity from the Darfur region.

DNHR urges the current de facto government of Sudan to cease these discriminatory practices and instead focus on supporting Sudanese citizens during this challenging time.

More information is available from Mohammed Hassan, Executive Director, DNHR.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (+256)752792112 or (+249)924638036

P.O. Box: 144218

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