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17 organisations and four individuals sign open letter to UN on detentions, use of excessive force in Sudan

February 15 - 2018 KHARTOUM
A mass protest in Khartoum in January 2018 (File photo: RD)
A mass protest in Khartoum in January 2018 (File photo: RD)

17 organisations and four individuals have signed an open letter to several UN Commissioners expressing concern over “the crackdown on peaceful protests and the wave of arbitrary arrests and continued incommunicado detentions by Sudanese government forces”.

The letter, intitiated by African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) also cites “the excessive use of force by Sudanese authorities”.

The open letter is addressed to the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan Aristide Nononsi, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Annalisa Ciampi, and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst.

“We, the *undersigned Sudanese, African and international organisations, write to you in your capacities as Special Procedure mandate holders to draw your attention to the worrying developments concerning the excessive use of force by Sudanese authorities to disperse peaceful protests across Sudan. We urge you to call on the Government of Sudan to respect the peoples’ rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as guaranteed in international standards and UN treaties ratified by Sudan and refrain from using excessive force to disperse protests,” the letter states.

“We urge you to call on the Government of Sudan to respect the peoples’ rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression... and refrain from using excessive force to disperse protests.”

“The Sudanese authorities’ reaction to the recent January 2018 protests is contrary to Sudan’s commitment to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in regional and international treaties to which it is party. Since January 7, the authorities, including the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and police have beaten peaceful protestors with sticks and batons and fired tear gas and live ammunition into crowds. On January 7, in El Geneina, West Darfur one student was killed and six other students were injured after joint forces of the National Intelligence and Security Services and Sudanese Police used live ammunition to disperse a peaceful student march. At least five people were killed and 26 others sustained gunshot wounds when joint forces of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) opened live ammunition on a crowd of protestors at Hasahisa camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Zalingei, Central Darfur, on January 20.

“From January 6 to February 6, the security forces have arrested and detained scores of Sudanese citizens including opposition political party leaders, human rights defenders/activists, journalists, student activists and others for prolonged periods without charge or trial.”

The letter also expresses concern about the prolonged detention of individuals, as well as “the repeated confiscation by the Sudanese authorities of national newspapers to prevent the coverage of the nationwide January 2018 protests”.

The letter calls on the government of Sudan to:

  • Guarantee the safety and well-being of all detainees and grant them immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers, family members and medical services.
  • Charge or release all those arbitrarily detained, and for those charged, ensure prompt access to a lawyer of their own choosing and full respect for their rights as detainees and to due process and a fair trial.
  • End its policies of post and pre-print censorship of newspapers.
  • Stop harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens including human rights defenders, peaceful activists and journalists and others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
  • Conduct an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of excessive use of force against peaceful protestors as well as ill-treatment and torture of detainees by police and NISS. Findings of such investigations should be made public and perpetrators should be held accountable before an independent and impartial tribunal.

Read the entire submission here

* The letter is signed by:

Organisations:

African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)

Alkarama Foundation

Al-Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment, Sudan (KACE)

Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project).

Face Past for Future Foundation ( FP4F)

Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)

National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders- Uganda (NCHRD-U)

Sudan Consortium

Sudan Democracy First Group

SUDO (UK)

The MagkaSama Project, France

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Waging Peace

Individuals:

Eltigani Hassan Mohamed Idis, Sudanese Advocate

BakriJebril Mohamed, Sudanese Advocate

Mohanad Mustafa Elnour, Sudanese Advocate

Amani Osman Hamdi, Sudanese Advocate


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