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OHCHR laments human rights violations in Sudan

January 18 - 2022 GENEVA
A bloodstained Sudanese flag after Sudanese forces fired on protesters in Khartoum yesterday (Photo: Social media)
A bloodstained Sudanese flag after Sudanese forces fired on protesters in Khartoum yesterday (Photo: Social media)

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed “serious concern about the human rights situation in Sudan, with peaceful protesters killed or injured on a near-daily basis by security forces, as well as a clampdown on critics of the authorities and on independent journalists.”

A statement today by spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, the OHCHR laments: “Credible statistics from the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors show that 71 people have been killed and more than 2,200 injured by State security forces during protests since the 25 October 2021 coup d’etat. Of these, 17 were killed just since the beginning of this year. Yesterday alone, security forces brutally dispersed demonstrators in Khartoum, resulting in the killing of seven and injury of dozens of protesters by live ammunition.

“Our Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan has also noted a pattern demonstrating that more than 25 per cent of those injured were hit directly by teargas canisters. This raises concerns that security forces are firing teargas canisters horizontally, directed at individuals, in violation of international standards.”

The OHCHR repeats its call on the Sudanese authorities “to immediately cease the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force – including the use of live ammunition – against peaceful protesters. The use of live ammunition is only permissible as a measure strictly of last resort in case of an imminent threat to life or of serious injury. There need to be thorough, prompt, independent investigations and the authorities have a duty to ensure that perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice,” the statement says.

The UN human rights agancy also cites “a campaign of arbitrary arrest and detention against protesters, journalists and media workers continues amid the state of emergency, with security forces breaking into activists’ homes, and even entering hospitals to arrest wounded protesters, preventing them from accessing emergency care. There are also disturbing reports of assaults against healthcare workers and facilities.

“The clampdown on freedom of opinion and expression also appears to be increasing through arrests of journalists, home and office raids and searches, ill treatment of journalists and suspension of licences. At least eight journalists have been ill-treated by security forces while covering protests.

“We call on the Sudanese authorities to stop targeting journalists, to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fully respected, that peaceful protests are facilitated rather than met with unnecessary and disproportionate force. Journalists and media organizations should be able to go about their crucial work freely and safe from any harassment and intimidation.

As the OHCHR has stressed, “meaningful, inclusive, participatory dialogue is urgently needed to ensure a swift return to civilian rule in Sudan. The people of Sudan must be able to participate in shaping the future of the country,” the statement concludes.

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