Sudan police killing protesters is ‘institutional behaviour’ linked to military leadership, Lt Col says

Armed policemen assisted by armed men in civilian clothes, believed to be undercover members of security forces, during demonstrations in November (social media)

KHARTOUM – March 24, 2023

Police Lt Col Omar Arbab says that the killing of demonstrators by the police represents ‘institutional behaviour’ that is part of the state system, not ‘individual behaviour’ by specific officers. He also accuses the police leadership of falsifying facts and attacking critical media outlets.

On a Twitter forum yesterday, Lt Col Arbab pointed out that none of the police employees accused of killing protesters had been brought to trial and accused the police leadership of misrepresenting and falsifying facts whilst many video clips taken by bystanders and journalists clearly documented targeted sniping operations. 

He also accused the police leadership of attacking media outlets that document violations.

This confirms that the behaviour reflects the entire police system, Arbab explained, and he expressed his surprise that the killings are often described as ‘individual behaviour’.

The failure of the police to bring the accused employees to court is likely to avoid scenarios where police officers might refuse to suppress peaceful demonstrations.

Arbab linked the behaviour of the police to Sudan’s current political crisis and the current military junta’s political leadership and explained that the behaviour of the military institutions is linked to the nature of their leadership.

Armed policemen on top of containers blocking the bridges to cut off the October 25, 2022, Marches of the Millions in Khartoum (file photo: social media / Dalia El Tahir)

Capt Omar Osman, on the other hand, described the killing of demonstrators by the police as individual behaviour and stressed that the police did not issue any explicit instructions to kill.

On Twitter, he claimed that adherence to the police doctrine would reduce the use of violence and explained that the law allows the police to open fire “in certain cases with the aim of disrupting, not killing”. Osman did stress the need for proportionality in the use of force and accountability for officers.

Osman also pointed out that there is a major defect among the police in adhering to the law, which led to a large number of victims in the demonstrations (at least 125), the last of whom was Ibrahim Majzoub

The captain emphasised that criminal intent is determined by identifying the tool used and the location of the injury. Any aim to the head or chest confirms criminal intent.

The wrong use of weapons classified globally as non-lethal weapons, such as tear gas cannisters, can turn them into deadly weapons as well, Othman explained. 

Several protesters have been killed by police using tear gas launchers filled with stones or glass, which they shoot at protesters from a close range.