UN expert ‘deeply concerned’ at human rights situation in Sudan
At the end of his four-day visit, the UN Expert on Human Rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, today expressed his deep concern at the human rights situation in the county. He criticised the human rights violations documented since the coup d’état on October 25 last year, the worsening of economic and social rights since the coup, at a press conference in Khartoum before leaving the country this afternoon.
The main purpose of Dieng’s visit was to continue talks with the authorities on human rights concerns linked to the coup, follow up on the recommendations he made during his visit in February, and hear from civil society and victims of human rights violations.
Dieng said in his statement that he was shocked by the killing of a young man yesterday during the protests to mark the violent dispersal by security forces of the 3 June pro-democracy sit-in in Khartoum in 2019.
He further stated that “the outcome of this visit will also contribute to the Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Sudan that will take place on 15 June 2022 during the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, at which the Council will consider the comprehensive written report on the human rights situation in Sudan that I prepared in collaboration with the Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan. The report will be made public on 7 June.
“During this visit, I met with the acting Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice and the acting Attorney General, as well as the National Monitoring, Reporting and Follow-up Mechanism. Unfortunately, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo was not available to meet with me. I have a meeting scheduled with Lieutenant-General Abdulfattah Al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereign Council, before I leave this afternoon. I also met with civil society representatives, human rights defenders, victims of human rights violations or their families, UN officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
“I was humbled and moved by the courage and determination of the human rights defenders and the victims of human rights violations and their families amid the challenges they face. Their experiences underline the complexity and magnitude of the human rights challenges confronted by the Sudanese people and the persistent gaps in accountability.
“In my meetings with the authorities, I welcomed the lifting of the state of emergency and release of detainees arrested under emergency legislation, as well as the release last month of high-profile officials affiliated with the Dismantling Committee. However, I stressed that more bold and concrete actions are needed to improve the human rights situation and build confidence; I urged them to release all persons arrested under the emergency legislation, as was recommended by the Security and Defence Council; provide clear and public confirmation that the emergency decree of 24 December, which was linked to the duration of the State of Emergency, is no longer valid; to ensure a definitive end to the use of excessive force against protesters and arbitrary arrests and detention; and ensure there is visible progress in ongoing investigations into human rights violations and that they are conducted in line with international law and standards.
“I flagged my deep concern at the human rights violations documented since the coup. It is simply unacceptable that 99 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured as a result of excessive use of force by the joint security forces responding to protests. I also raised my concern at the arbitrary and mass arrest and often incommunicado detention of resistance committee members, protestors, activists, media professionals and others in the context of protests; sexual and gender-based violence and acts of torture and ill-treatment in the course of arrest and during detention and lack of fair trial and due process guarantees.
“Regarding accountability, I was informed that the investigation committee set up by the authorities to investigate human rights violations committed since the coup has confirmed four cases of sexual violence in the context of the protests and has made progress in investigations into the killings of protesters. However, I stressed to the authorities the need to expedite the process and provide information to the public on the committee’s progress.
“In the report to the Human Rights Council, I included reference to information provided by the authorities in February on the number of police officers killed and injured during protests. I understand that the case of Mohamed Adam, known as Tupac, a young protestor arrested on suspicion of his involvement in the death of a police brigadier general during a protest in January, whose family I met when I was here in February, has now moved to trial. I urge the authorities to ensure the right of all those prosecuted to a fair trial.
“I also shared my concern over the retrogression in the enjoyment of economic and social rights since the coup, due to the deterioration in the economy, political instability, increased prices – and the threat of poor harvests this year, which are forecast to dramatically increase the number of people living in poverty. I called on the authorities to take concrete steps to prevent this from happening, using the maximum of available resources and by seeking international support, as appropriate.
“I also communicated my concern in relation to intercommunal conflicts and large-scale attacks against civilians in Darfur, including the events of 22 to 24 April in Kereinik that claimed the lives of at least 172 people, almost all from the Massalit tribe, and displaced thousands. These events must be investigated fully, and serious and comprehensive efforts taken to restore peace and hold those responsible to account. Implementation of the security arrangements envisaged in the Juba Peace Agreement needs to be accelerated and more joint security forces deployed in hotspot areas in Darfur to protect civilians and including Internally Displaced People, including women and children.
“In conclusion, I encourage all Sudanese to contribute to efforts towards a political settlement and resumption of the important legal and institutional reforms started by the transitional government. In this respect, I would like to underline that any political initiatives must be founded on human rights if they are to succeed and include justice and reparations for victims and accountability for those responsible for human rights violations. There should also be a strong commitment to the protection of civilians.”
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