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Breifing to the Security Council on Sudan by Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, New York, 14 June 2019

Mr. President,

It is an honour to brief the Security Council on human rights issues impacting the security peace and security situation in Darfur.

Violence between armed militias and state security forces, as well as between communities, has decreased. We welcome that. At the same time, we are concerned that the human rights situation in Darfur has continued to deteriorate in recent months, with increased reports of killings, abduction, sexual violence and other violations.

Since April, country-wide protests and political developments in the capital have had some ripple effect in Darfur, with thousands of protestors demonstrating in its major towns, and a rise in the number of documented violations. Many of these protests in Darfur were violently repressed by state security forces, including Rapid Support Forces. In this connection, the Human Rights Component of UNAMID documented the killing of 47 and injury of 186 civilians in various regions of Darfur between 11 April to 12 June. In Zalingi, Central Darfur, 10 civilians were killed and 93 injured as a result of what is seen as excessive use of force.

There are reports that state security entities have resorted to arbitrary arrest and detention to restrict freedom of movement and assembly, as well as suppress dissent or acts of solidarity with the protest in Khartoum. In the past two months, 163 civilians were arrested and detained in relation to protests in Darfur.

The Human Rights Section of UNAMID has received accounts of intensified attacks and harassment of civilians and looting of houses and livestock by Rapid Support Forces. The same forces that are widely reported to be involved in violent repression of the protests in Khartoum, which led to numerous deaths of peaceful protesters.

We believe that many cases in Darfur remain invisible and underreported due to lack of access to some parts of the region.

In some areas of Jebel Marra, the sole representatives of Government present are the security forces. But, they are reported as the main perpetrators of violations against the civilian population – i.e. the people they are there to protect.

Clearly, this does not lead to increased trust of the population in law enforcement bodies. UNAMID’s presence, and its important work on human rights and the protection of civilians has had a positive effect, as confirmed by IDPs and local communities. During this period UNAMID, including the Human Rights Section, has been able to act to defuse conflict and violence, through its interaction with the population and advocacy with state security forces and judicial authorities.

In an atmosphere of violence and uncertainty, upholding the priorities of the protection of civilians and of human rights in the mandate of UNAMID is of paramount significance, including through continued monitoring and reporting of the human rights situation in the whole of Darfur. We believe the strengthened mission’s civilian presence will have a positive impact on protection of civilians. Meanwhile, the UNAMID Human Rights Section continues to reinforce the capacity of national institutions to protect and promote human rights through the State Liaison Functions.

Particularly of note is the positive collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, with which UNAMID has established a Framework of Cooperation to further build the national capacity to protect human rights. UNAMID through its human rights component is closely engaging with the Sudanese Armed Forces, in particular in North Darfur, and the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission to mainstream human rights in their activities.

The violence and uncertainty that has erupted in Darfur in the past few months is unfortunately likely to continue until the root causes (and what Mr. Lacroix has just called the “conflict drivers”) of the conflict are addressed. The tragic incident in Deleij village in Central Darfur on 9 and 10 June that resulted in the deaths of at least 17 persons, which was related to inter-community violence, but involving state actors, illustrates that point – as well as the direct link between human rights and security.

Any transition roadmap should include measures that permit the population of Darfur to regain confidence in law enforcement bodies, rule of law and broader State institutions, as well as a belief that there will be some accountability for excessive use of force and serious human rights violations.

To conclude: We strongly support what the communique of yesterday’s AU Peace and Security Council on Darfur called “the imperative for the Republic of Sudan to ensure the full protection of civilians and respect for human rights and freedoms”.