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UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan begins work, calls on warring parties to end conflict and respect human rights

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GENEVA (18 January 2024) – The UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan began its work with an initial mission to Geneva this week, calling on Sudan’s warring parties to end the nation’s armed conflict, uphold their obligations to protect civilians and ensure perpetrators of grave violations and crimes are held to account.

Speaking after several days of talks with officials and civil society organizations, Mohamed Chande Othman, chair of the Fact-Finding Mission, said today that investigations into human rights and international humanitarian law violations were underway.

“Sudanese civil society organisations and other interlocutors have started sharing allegations of ongoing serious violations with us,” Othman said. “These allegations underscore the importance of accountability, the necessity of our investigations, and the vital need for the violence to end immediately.”

The UN Human Rights Council established the Fact-Finding Mission in October 2023 to investigate all alleged human rights violations in the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other warring parties since 15 April 2023, with a view to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable for violations and related crimes. The conflict has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced.

On 18 December, the Council appointed the Mission’s three members, including Othman, Mona Rishmawi, and Joy Ezeilo.

“The warring parties have international legal obligations to protect civilians from attacks, guarantee humanitarian access and refrain from murders, forced displacement, torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances under any circumstances,” said Rishmawi. “We will carefully verify all allegations received and carry out our fact-finding independently and impartially.”

Ezeilo said the Fact-Finding Mission will pay particular attention to violations targeting women and children, especially those concerning sexual violence.

“Allegations of rapes targeting mainly women and girls and the alleged recruitment of children for use in hostilities are among the priority concerns for our investigations,” Ezeilo said.

The Fact-Finding Mission called on all parties to cooperate with their investigations. It invited individuals, groups and organizations to confidentially submit relevant information on human rights violations in Sudan in English or Arabic.

The Mission is due to present an oral update on its initial findings to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-sixth session in June-July 2024, followed by a comprehensive report to the Council’s fifty-seventh session in September-October and the UN General Assembly at its seventy-ninth session in October 2024.

Background:  The Human Rights Council established the Fact-Finding Mission in October, through resolution A/HRC/RES/54/2. One of its key tasks is “to investigate and establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of all alleged human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against refugees, and related crimes in the context of the ongoing armed conflict that began on 15 April 2023, between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, as well as other warring parties.” The three experts were appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council. The Mission, which was established for an initial duration of one year, was further requested to collect and analyse evidence in view of any future legal proceedings; to identify, where possible, individuals and entities responsible; and to make recommendations with a view to ending impunity and ensuring accountability and access to justice for victims.

More information on the work of the Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan can be found here.

For media queries, please contact: Todd Pitman, Media Adviser for the UN Human Rights Council’s Investigative Missions, [email protected]/ (+41) 76 691 1761; or Pascal Sim, Human Rights Council Media Officer, [email protected] / +41 79 477 4411.

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