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Sudan: Urgently convene a special session of the Human Rights Council and establish an investigative mechanism

In a letter released today, over 90 Sudanese, African, and international non-governmental organisations urge states to address Sudan’s human rights crisis by supporting the convening of a special (emergency) session of the UN Human Rights Council. 

On 15 April 2023, violence erupted in Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). As of 25 April 2023, at midnight, a 72-hour ceasefire has been announced. The death toll, however, is estimated at over 400 civilians, with thousands injured. Actual figures are likely to be much higher. The fighting has spread to other cities and regions, including Darfur, threatening to escalate into full-blown conflict. 

“In line with the Council’s mandate to prevent violations and to respond promptly to human rights emergencies,” the signatories write, “States have a responsibility to act by convening a special session and establishing an investigative and accountability mechanism addressing all alleged human rights violations and abuses in Sudan.” 

To ensure swift operationalisation of the new mechanism, the signatories suggest to request the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently organise an independent mechanism, whose work would complement the work of the existing “designated Expert” on Sudan. 

The independent investigative mechanism should complement, consolidate and build upon the work of the designated Expert and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), undertaking investigations, establishing the facts, circumstances and root causes of violations and abuses, collecting and preserving documentation and evidence, and identifying those responsible. It should also, the signatories suggest, support accountability efforts to break the cycle of impunity in Sudan. It should engage with Sudanese parties and all other stakeholders, including African bodies and mechanisms. 

While efforts to stop the fighting by the African Union (AU), the Intergov­er­n­mental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other regional and international actors are welcome, there is no time to lose to address the human rights dimensions of a crisis that threatens to destabilise not only Sudan, but the whole sub-region and beyond, and that puts millions of lives at risk. 

Read the full letter: English  /  français  /  اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ

  1. Act for Sudan
  2. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture in the Central African Republic (ACAT-RCA)
  3. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
  4. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
  5. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
  6. Algerian Human Rights Network (Réseau Algérien des Droits de l’Homme)
  7. Amnesty International
  8. Angolan Human Rights Defenders Coalition
  9. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  10. Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA)
  11. Beam Reports – Sudan
  12. Belarusian Helsinki Committee
  13. Burkinabè Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CBDDH)
  14. Burundian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CBDDH)
  15. Cabo Verdean Network of Human Rights Defenders (RECADDH)
  16. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  17. Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement (CAWOPEM)
  18. Central African Network of Human Rights Defenders (REDHAC)
  19. Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) – Mozambique
  20. Centre de Formation et de Documentation sur les Droits de l’Homme (CDFDH) – Togo
  22. Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Benin (CDDH-Bénin)
  23. Collectif Urgence Darfour
  24. CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
  25. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  26. EEPA – Europe External Programme with Africa
  27. Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center (EHRDC)
  28. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
  29. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile (FORSC) – Burundi
  30. Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED) – Ghana
  31. Gisa Group – Sudan
  32. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  33. Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum (HoA Forum)
  34. Human Rights Defenders Coalition Malawi
  35. Human Rights Defenders Network – Sierra Leone
  36. Human Rights House Foundation
  37. Institut des Médias pour la Démocratie et les Droits de l’Homme (IM2DH) – Togo
  38. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
  39. International Commission of Jurists
  40. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
  41. International Service for Human Rights
  42. Ivorian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CIDDH)
  43. Jews Against Genocide
  44. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) – Sudan
  45. Justice Africa Sudan
  46. Justice Center for Advocacy and Legal Consultations – Sudan
  47. Libyan Human Rights Clinic (LHRC)
  48. Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COMADDH)
  49. MENA Rights Group
  50. Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network (MozambiqueDefenders – RMDDH)
  51. NANHRI – Network of African National Human Rights Institutions
  52. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
  53. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Somalia
  54. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Uganda (NCHRD-U)
  55. Network of Human Rights Journalists (NHRJ) – The Gambia
  56. Network of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in North Africa (CIDH Africa)
  57. Never Again Coalition
  58. Nigerien Human Rights Defenders Network (RNDDH)
  59. Pathways for Women’s Empowerment and Development (PaWED) – Cameroon
  60. PAX Netherlands
  61. PEN Belarus
  62. Physicians for Human Rights
  63. POS Foundation – Ghana
  64. Project Expedite Justice
  65. Protection International Africa
  67. Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS) – Sudan
  68. Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP) – Burundi
  69. Rights Georgia
  70. Rights for Peace
  71. Rights Realization Centre (RRC) – United Kingdom
  72. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
  73. Society for Threatened Peoples
  74. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (Southern Defenders)
  75. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
  76. Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA)
  77. Sudanese American Public Affairs Association (SAPAA)
  78. Sudanese Women Rights Action
  79. Sudan Human Rights Hub
  80. Sudan NextGen Organization (SNG)
  81. Sudan Social Development Organisation
  82. Sudan Unlimited
  83. SUDO UK
  84. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
  85. The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA)
  86. Togolese Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CTDDH)
  87. Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH)
  88. Waging Peace
  89. World Council of Churches
  90. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
  91. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
Borderline-Europe – Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V.
Gulf Centre for Human Rights
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Africa
New Sudan Council of Churches
Stop Genocide Now
Sudanese American Physicians Association (SAPA) 
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)