GENEVA (28 December 2018) – UN experts today expressed alarm at Sudan’s escalating violence and reports of protesters killed during recent large-scale demonstrations against rising prices and food and fuel shortages.
"The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an inherent element of democracies," said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule.
He said he was deeply concerned at reports of government security forces using live ammunition during protests which have swept the country since 19 December. "The Government should respond to legitimate grievances of the Sudanese people," the Special Rapporteur said.
The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, said the use of lethal force was unacceptable when controlling demonstrations.
"Dissent must be tolerated and not restrained with excessive force which can lead to loss of life. I strongly urge the Sudanese security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and take immediate measures to protect the right to life of the demonstrators," Nononsi said.
The experts said they were also concerned at reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions of unknown numbers of protesters, including students and political activists. "We call on the Sudanese authorities to release those detainees. We also urge the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations and to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations."
The UN rights experts said the Government of the Sudan in May 2016 had pledged to foster an environment that supports inclusive dialogue, instituting legal reforms to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. "The events of recent days do not demonstrate this commitment," they said.
The UN experts said they are ready to cooperate with the Sudanese authorities and parties to work to establish a State where human rights is central and the rule of law is upheld. They will continue to follow-up on the situation in the Sudan.
Mr. Aristide Nononsi (Benin) was designated as the new Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Sudan by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. His mandate has been extended for an additional year in September 2018. Mr. Nononsi has a doctorate in law and is a specialist in international law, human rights and development, with extensive experience in international and African organizations. Mr. Nononsi was executive director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), and worked for the Centre for Development Area Studies at Mc Gill University, the African Development Bank and the International Labour Organization.
Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, from Togo, was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association in March 2018. He is a lawyer and currently works in Geneva in the field of human rights. He is an associate researcher at the Geneva Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Prior to his appointment, he led the work of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). Mr. Voulé also worked as Secretary General of the Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, as campaigning officer for the Coalition for the Togolese International Criminal Court and as Secretary General of the Amnesty International section in Togo. Since 2011, Mr. Voulé has been an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.
Reports on Sudan by previous UN Independent Experts.
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Sudan
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