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UN experts: Sudan sliding into human rights abyss

June 12 - 2019 GENEVA
The independent UN Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi from Benin (File photo)
The independent UN Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi from Benin (File photo)

UN human rights experts* said today they were seriously concerned that Sudan is sliding into a “human rights abyss”, urging the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into violations against peaceful protesters since the start of the year.

“Given the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations and the need to act quickly to prevent further escalation, we call on the Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into the human rights violations in Sudan and to actively monitor developments on the ground,” said the experts appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UN experts expressed alarm at reports of numerous deaths and injuries since 3 June 2019 as a result of the use of excessive force and violence by State Security Forces, and in particular the Rapid Support Forces, against peaceful demonstrators.

‘One of a State’s most fundamental duties is to protect life... International law only allows security officers to use lethal force as a last resort’ – UN experts*

“One of a State’s most fundamental duties is to protect life,” they said. “In pursuing ordinary law enforcement operations, using force that may cost the life of a person cannot be justified. International law only allows security officers to use lethal force as a last resort in order to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.

“We urge the authorities to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations and to carry out independent and thorough investigations.”

Women have been at the forefront of the peaceful protests in the country in recent weeks and months and have been among the first victims of the violence, including sexual violence, the experts said, adding that dozens of women human rights defenders had been arbitrarily held in an attempt to intimidate them. While some have been released, information received suggests several remain in police custody and are in need of medical attention.

The Sudanese authorities’ failure to respect and protect their citizens’ rights to freedom of association and peacefully assembly, to express their opinions and to make peaceful demands on their Government was also a matter of grave concern, the experts said. The experts called on authorities to reconnect the internet network after it was shut down at the start of June 2019.

“Freedom of expression and assembly is essential so that the legitimate concerns of the people can be heard and their needs, including their human rights, addressed,” they said.

“We call upon the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to respect and protect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to address the underlying causes for the demonstrations. As instructed by the African Union, the TMC must promptly hand over power to a civilian authority. This will avoid further precipitating Sudan into a human rights abyss.”

The experts expressed concerns about reports that three opposition leaders from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM/N Malik Agar faction) were deported from Sudan at the weekend.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Last week, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Sudanese government to cooperate with the rapid deployment of a UN human rights monitoring team to examine human rights violations committed during and after the Khartoum sit-in massacre

A statement by Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the OHCHR said: “We continue to be gravely concerned about the situation in Sudan and have proposed the rapid deployment of a UN human rights monitoring team to examine allegations of human rights violations committed since June 3 2019. We are seeking the cooperation of the government of Sudan to be able to deploy such a mission – which would seek to engage with relevant Sudanese authorities, civil society organisations and others – at the earliest opportunity.

* The UN experts: Aristide Nononsi from Benin, the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, from Togo, the Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Meskerem Geset Techane, Chair of the Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 


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