Sudan

Statement by Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, at 50th session of the Human Rights Council - Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on Sudan

FROM Geneva, Palais des Nations, Room XX

Mr President,
Excellencies,

It is my honour to present, on behalf of the High Commissioner, her report on the situation of human rights in Sudan since the military coup of 25 October 2021.

The report underscores that patterns of human rights violations observed since the coup remain of grave concern.

The important progress made on human rights, transitional justice and the rule of law during the transitional period has stalled. This has converged with a marked deterioration of the country’s socio-economic situation, with the most vulnerable severely affected. Since 25 October 2021, prices of many basic commodities and services have increased significantly; the price of bread has increased by 100 percent, fuel by about 130 percent and electricity by around 2500 percent. In addition, poor harvests are anticipated. It is estimated that the number of people facing acute hunger will likely double to more than 18 million by September 2022.

The Sudanese people - with youth at the forefront – continue to take to the streets, protesting peacefully for democracy, and a return to civilian rule.

I welcome the initiative of the Trilateral Mechanism – the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, the African Union and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development - to facilitate dialogue to resolve the current political impasse.

I take this opportunity to thank Adama Dieng, the UN Expert on Human Rights in Sudan, for his dedication, and the authorities for their cooperation with his mandate. Mr. Dieng visited the country for the second time from 1-4 June.

And I acknowledge and thank the victims and witnessses of human rights violations, whose testimonies formed the basis of the comprehensive report I have submitted to the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Sudan since the military coup.

Excellencies,

The report – covering the period 25 October 2021 to 10 April 2022 - highlights the continued excessive use of force by security forces in response to protests against the coup. This has resulted in the deaths of 101 people (including one woman and 15 children) and injury of more than 5000, most in Khartoum State.

It was shocking to hear that, in most cases, the deaths of protestors were the result of injuries to the head and/or chest caused by live ammunition. Tear gas canisters fired directly at protesters led to four deaths and caused around one third of reported injuries.

A pattern of mass arrest and detention of protestors and activists was also observed. While protesters were generally released after a short period, demonstration leaders, resistance committee members and activists were typically held in incommunicado detention for up to two months. This is emblematic of the shrinking civic space, notably for women civil society activists, increasingly facing threats and harassment, including those providing support to victims of sexual violence.

During the reporting period, sixteen incidents of sexual and gender-based violence by security forces or plain-clothes armed men in Khartoum in the context of protests were verified through first hand sources by the Joint Office. They included seven cases of gang rape by uniformed personnel.

Inter-communal violence has intensified since the coup, particularly in North and West Darfur, leading to large scale loss of life and destruction of property and means of subsistence. The loss of at least 172 lives following the communal violence in Kerenik, West Darfur from 22 to 24 April 2022, demonstrated the continued gaps in the protection of civilians.

Excellencies,

Against this backdrop, I welcome the decision to lift the state of emergency and release all persons under emergency legislation. I also acknowledge progress in the judicial investigation into allegations of human rights violations committed since 25 October, and I encourage the authorities to make this progress public, expedite the investigation and hold those responsible accountable.

I also strongly urge the authorities to take additional steps, in particular to end the use of excessive force against protesters, revoke the emergency decree that extended the law enforcement powers of the regular forces and General Intelligence Service and grants them temporary immunity from prosecution, and end the practice of arbitrary arrests and detention. I call on them to respect and protect all human rights, in particular the rights to life, to freedom of opinion and expression and to freedom of assembly and association, and actively prevent violations by all State actors, in particular the joint security forces.

The protection of civilians is paramount. The Juba Peace Agreement and National Plan for the Protection of Civilians must be implemented without delay.

Finally, I call on the international community to support initiatives aimed at bringing about a durable political solution in Sudan, and to continue to support the work of the Expert and the Joint Office.

The calls of the Sudanese people for their human rights are clear, and must not go unanswered. Any political solution to the current impasse must place human rights, including accountability for both recent and past violations committed in the country, front and centre.

Thank you.