UN experts today added their voice to the chorus of international condemnation and expressed alarm at Sudan’s escalating violence and reports of protesters killed during recent large-scale demonstrations against rising prices and food and fuel shortages.
“The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an inherent element of democracies,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule.
In a statement issued by the UN Office of the Hight Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), he said he was deeply concerned at reports of government security forces using live ammunition during protests which have swept the country since 19 December. “The government should respond to legitimate grievances of the Sudanese people,” the Special Rapporteur said.
The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, said the use of lethal force was unacceptable when controlling demonstrations.
“Dissent must be tolerated and not restrained with excessive force which can lead to loss of life. I strongly urge the Sudanese security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and take immediate measures to protect the right to life of the demonstrators,” Nononsi said.
The experts said they were also concerned at reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions of unknown numbers of protesters, including students and political activists. “We call on the Sudanese authorities to release those detainees. We also urge the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations and to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
The UN rights experts point out the government of Sudan in May 2016 had pledged to foster an environment that supports inclusive dialogue, instituting legal reforms to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. “The events of recent days do not demonstrate this commitment,” they said.
The UN experts said they are ready to cooperate with the Sudanese authorities and parties to work to establish a State where human rights is central and the rule of law is upheld.