We, the undersigned Sudanese, African and international organisations and individuals, write to you ahead of the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council (“the Council”), which will take place from 25 February-22 March 2019, to express our concerns and urge you to address the Sudanese government’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and ongoing violations of human rights. Since 13 December 2018, tens of thousands of people have protested throughout Sudan and the authorities have responded by indiscriminately firing live ammunition and tear gas into crowds of peaceful protesters killing more than 50 civilians.
These attacks are not taking place in a vacuum: they follow decades of violations committed during systematic and widespread attacks on civilians — amounting to crimes against humanity — both in the context of popular protest and multiple conflicts waged against populations in Sudan’s designated peripheries. Sudan is one of the few countries subject to HRC special procedures regime since 1993, an International Criminal Court (ICC) situation investigation, a UN sanctions regime all-encompassing human rights and humanitarian law mandates. In light of this, preventing a further escalation of the situation is essential. As provided by Resolution 38/18 and highlighted by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the Human Rights Council has an important role to play in contributing to the prevention of human rights violations. An early intervention on the part of the Council and of all UN human rights bodies and experts is crucial.
We urge the Human Rights Council to reiterate to the Government of Sudan that all Sudanese have the inherent right to life, freedom from torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly including freedom of the media.
We further urge you to call on the Government of Sudan to:
- Stop the use of lethal and excessive force against peaceful protesters/demonstrators;
- Release all those arbitrarily detained by NISS and other government forces, and for those charged, ensure due process of law and a fair trial including the right to promptly access courts, to review the legality of their detention and access a lawyer of their own choosing;
- End its policies of post and pre-print censorship of newspapers; and
- End all acts of harassment and intimidation of citizens including human rights defenders, peaceful demonstrators, journalists (international and national), doctors, engineers, lawyers and others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.
We call on the Human Rights Council to:
- Dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations committed in the Sudan, including excessive use of force and killings of peaceful demonstrators, as well as torture and ill-treatment of detainees by the Government of Sudan, with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims; and
- Request that the fact-finding mission present an oral update to the Council at its fourty-second session and a full report at its fourty-third session.
Abdelmonim El Jak, Researcher
Act for Sudan, Eric Cohen, Co-Founder, USA
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
Al-Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Dr. Mutaal Girshab, Activist & Director, The Regional Centre for Training & Development of Civil Society
Darfur Bar Association
DefendDefenders, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Elhag Ali Warrag, Hurriyat Editor in Chief
Faith J. H. McDonnell, Director, International Religious Liberty Program & Church Alliance for a New Sudan
FIDH, International Federation for Human Rights
Hala Al-Karib, The Strategic Initiative for Women in The Horn of Africa
HUDO Centre, Bushra Gamar, Executive Director
Human Rights Watch
Horn of African Civil Society Forum
Institute on Religion and Democracy, Washington, DC
Investors Against Genocide, Susan Morgan, Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, USA
Justice Center for Advocacy and Legal Consultation
Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur, William Rosenfeld, Director, Boston, MA, USA
MENA Rights Group
Najaa Ahmed, human rights advocate
National Human Rights Monitors Organisation
Never Again Coalition
Skills for Nuba Mountains
Stop Genocide Now
Sudan Democracy First Group
Sudanese Rights Group (Huqooq)
The MagkaSama Project, France
The Platform of Sudanese Lawyers Abroad