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Joint Letter from Non-governmental Groups: Human Rights Council Should Create Independent Fact-Finding Group for Sudan

Dear Excellencies,

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

Enough Project

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


Human Rights Defender of the month: Leon Ntakiyiruta

As a child, Leon wanted to be a magistrate – whom he saw as agents of justice. Born in 1983 in Burundi’s Southern province, he came of age at a time of great social and political upheaval in the East African country. In 1993 when Leon was barely 10, Burundi was besieged by a civil war that would last for the next 12 years until 2005, characterized by indiscriminate violence and gross human rights abuses in which over 300,000 people are estimated to have died.In 2012, still struggling to find her footing in Kampala, Aida was introduced to DefendDefenders, where she was introduced to the organisation’s resource center, and assured, it (the center) would be at her disposal whenever she needed to use it.