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Sudan: UN concerned about grave human rights violations against anti-coup protesters

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: 28 August 2022

UN experts have expressed concerns about allegations of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment of hundreds of peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and people with a perceived affiliation with the opposition to the military coup of 25 October 2021.

More than 1,000 detainees:

In a UN memorandum sent to the Sudanese authorities on 24 June, 2022, which has not yet been responded to, that in April 2022, the Designated Expert and the UN Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan reported the detention of more than 1000 people between 25 October 2021 and 3 March 2022 for opposing the military coup, including at least 143 women and 157 children.

The experts added that at least 85 persons, including one woman and 11 children, were killed and many others injured by Sudan’s joint security forces during protests. The Joint Office has documented four cases of enforced disappearance.

Experts stated that many detainees were held incommunicado for periods ranging from one day to two months in unknown locations. The Sudanese authorities have failed to provide information to the families or legal representatives on their fate and whereabouts or refused to acknowledge their detention.

Detention, disappearance and rape:

Experts noted that the Sudanese joint security forces, including regular and anti-riot police, the Central Reserve Police (CRP), and military units from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), along with ununiformed agents, detained people during protests, in the streets, in the workplace, in hospitals, in private vehicles or in their homes.

“The joint security forces reportedly looted and confiscated private property and engaged in excessive use of force in their response to protests. They also allegedly committed widespread acts of torture and ill-treatment against hundreds of detainees, including severe beatings with gunstocks, batons and iron bars; beatings to their stomach and head while being blindfolded; forcing children to strip naked in front of adults; firing teargas inside private cars; and threats of killings and sexual violence. At least 14 persons were reportedly victims of rape by the joint security forces in the vicinity of protests in Khartoum,” UN experts reported.

UN concerns about grave human rights violations:

The experts expressed their concern about n at the seriousness of these allegations, which, if confirmed, would amount to gross violations of international human rights law by the Sudanese joint security forces.

They reiterated their concern at the alleged use of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, including incommunicado detention, of more than 1000 people, including at least 157 children.

The experts also expressed concerns about the lack of official information about the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived of their liberty due to their dissenting opinion or the exercise of their freedom of expression, their participation in protests against the military coup, and their access to adequate medical care and treatment while deprived of their liberty.

UN demands from the Sudanese authorities:

The experts called on the Sudanese authorities to provide information on the steps they have taken to investigate allegations of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, to verify the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared, and to ensure the protection of their human rights.

The experts also called on Sudan to provide information on the measures it has taken to conduct an immediate, impartial and transparent investigation in accordance with applicable international standards, and about their outcomes, including the identification of perpetrators and effective access to justice for victims.

The experts also requested information on the legal basis for the detention of peaceful protesters and persons with perceived affiliation with the opposition, including children and how these actions are consistent with Sudan’s obligations under international human rights law.

The experts also called on the Sudanese authorities to provide updated information, disaggregated by sex and age, on the number, state of health and the whereabouts of individuals currently still detained in connection to the military coup of 25 October 2021 and related protests, the status of the legal process initiated against them, and whether the detainees have access to a legal 5 representation of their choice and their families.

The experts also called on the Sudanese authorities to report on measures taken to ensure that that all persons detained by the Sudanese joint security forces in the context of the military coup and related protests were brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and either tried or released.

The experts demanded an explanation of the measures taken to ensure that persons who may oppose the military coup, including women human rights defenders, in particular those working for women’s rights can carry out their legitimate work without fear for their basic human rights.

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