News from Sudan
Comments on Sudan’s Voluntary and Humanitarian Works Act of 2006
This commentary on the Sudan Voluntary and Humanitarian Works Act of 2006 was produced by the Sudanese Development Initiative (SUDIA) and the International Center for Non-profit Law (ICNL). It was written and presented at a workshop organized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in March 2020. The workshop aimed to consult with stakeholders (CSOs, Government institutions, national and international NGOs, UN and academia) on key issues impacting the institutional and legal environment governing voluntary and humanitarian organizations, including opportunities, challenges and recommendations for reforms.
The Republic of Sudan is currently considering reform of the institutional and legal framework for civil society organizations (“CSOs”). While CSOs in Sudan register under a number of laws, including the Law Regulating Activities of National Cultural Groups and the National Training Act, most voluntary associations as well as most international organizations register and op-erate under the Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act of 2006 (“HAC Act”).
ICNL and SUDIA welcome efforts by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (“HAC”), civil society representatives, and all other stakeholders to reform Sudan’s CSO legal framework, and encourages repeal and replacement of the HAC Act in particular. As demonstrated below, the HAC Act restricts the right to freedom of association as protected by Sudan’s 2019 Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Period as well as international law. In particular, the Act:
- Criminalizes informal, unregistered organizations;
- Creates obstacles to CSOs’ registration, including by giving the state vast discretion in the registration process;
- Requires CSOs to re-register every year;
- Ensures state control over organizations’ access to funding;
- Establishes a political entity with broad powers to register and supervise CSOs;
- Imposes vague constraints on the registration and activities of foreign CSOs;
- Grants the state broad discretion to de-register and otherwise sanction organizations and individuals for violations of the Act and other laws.
The following analysis is meant to support stakeholders involved in the reform process, to ensure that the results create an enabling environment for CSOs in Sudan and fulfill Sudan’s international and domestic legal obligations with regard to freedom of association.