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Sudan: UN human rights experts call for independent investigation into violations (12.06.2019)

GENEVA (12 June 2019) – UN experts said today they were seriously concerned that Sudan was 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,” 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. “The demonstrators have been calling for democratic change, including the hand-over of power to civilians by the Transitional Military Council (TMC).

“We call upon the Transitional Military Council 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 allegedly deported from Sudan at the weekend. The men were arbitrarily arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services last week.

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