Today, over 110 NGOs reiterated a call on the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigative mechanism on Sudan. The initial civil society call, issued after armed conflict broke out in Khartoum in April 2023, was on the Council to hold an emergency session (which it did) and to request the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to organise an investigation (which it did not).
In a new letter, Sudanese, African, and international NGOs led by DefendDefenders urge the Council to establish, without further delay, an independent mechanism with a mandate to investigate human rights violations and abuses in Sudan, collect and preserve evidence, and identify those responsible.
In practice, such a mechanism would be a Commission of Inquiry (COI) or similar. Signatories insist that the mechanism should be established at the Council’s upcoming 54th session (HRC54, 11 September-13 October 2023) and that it should be provided “with all the administrative, technical, and logistical support and personnel necessary to enable it to carry out its mandate, in particular in the areas of fact-finding, legal analysis, translation and interpretation, and evidence-collection and preservation, including regarding sexual and gender-based violence and specialised ballistic and forensic expertise.” They add that it should “integrate a gender perspective and a survivor-centred approach throughout its work.”
In today’s letter, signatories outline key aspects of the crisis in Sudan and the impact of the fighting on civilians. They draw attention to the human rights and humanitarian situation in several areas of the country, including West Darfur, where the violence has taken on an increasingly interethnic dimension that is reminiscent of the crimes committed twenty years ago. “Impunity is at the heart of the current crisis,” they write, “and addressing it should be a priority.”