UN human rights expert Adama Dieng concludes his official visit to Sudan (20 -24 February 2022)
24 February 2022
Statement by the UN Human Rights Expert for Sudan Adama Dieng at the press conference organized at the end of his visit to the country
Good morning to you all and thank you for coming.
First, let me express my thanks to the Authorities for inviting me to conduct this visit. Since my designation as Human Rights Expert for Sudan in November 2021, I have been monitoring the human rights situation remotely. So this, my first official visit, has given me the opportunity to observe the situation firsthand.
During my five days in Sudan, I have met with the attorney-general, the acting Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Justice, the National Reporting and Follow-up Mechanism (NMRF), the Unit on Combating Sexual Violence in the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Human Rights and Child Protection unit of the Rapid Support Forces, the Chief of the federal Police, a member of the Sovereignty Council in charge of Social Affairs, the civilian governor of Khartoum and head of the Joint Security Committee, as well as civil society representatives, human rights defenders, and crucially, many family members of victims of human rights violations. I have also met with diplomats, and heads of UN entities. The Chair of the Sovereign Council was unavailable to meet with me yesterday, but I am now scheduled to meet with him this morning before departing. I was also unable to meet with the Deputy chair of the Sovereignty Council as I am told that he has travelled.
I also visited Soba Prison and interacted with the prominent activists arrested recently and some of the young activists detained there.
I was deeply moved by the testimonies of loss and suffering I heard from many victims and their relatives. Stories of loved ones shot dead or injured while taking part in peaceful protests and families prevented from visiting their sons and daughters in sites of detention. I applaud them for their resilience and determined quest for justice and accountability.
In my meetings with the authorities, I welcomed the reported release of not less than 100 people from detention this week and called for the immediate release of all others still in detention. I raised concern at the extension of law enforcement powers to the general security forces during the State of Emergency and the temporary immunity from prosecution granted to these forces. I also welcomed the establishment of judicial mechanisms by the Attorney General to investigate alleged violations of the right to life and cases of sexual violence since the coup, while underscoring at the same that the investigations must be prompt, impartial, and independent and lead to justice and redress for victims. I look forward to the reports of these investigations.
I reiterated my concern about the security force’s repeated use of excessive force and live ammunition against protestors since the 25 October 2021 coup and noted that so far at least eighty-two (82) people have been killed as a result, more than 2,000 injured and others, mostly women, subjected to acts of sexual violence. I also expressed my concern at the negative effects of the State of Emergency on human rights, attacks on medical facilities and medical personnel, harassment of media and journalists, arbitrary arrests and detention of protesters and human rights activists, and use of torture and other ill-treatment.
I also pointed out to the authorities how the political and economic crisis is contributing to retrogression in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights of the Sudanese people, in particular the most vulnerable, women and children which were already precarious.
I called on the authorities to put an end to the use of excessive force against protesters, lift the state of emergency, release all protestors and activists still held in detention and ensure prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations. Doing so would comply with their obligations under international human rights law and de-escalate tensions.
I also discussed with the authorities the situation in Darfur and existing gaps in the protection of civilians, and in particular the delay in the operationalization of the Security-Keeping Force, the situation of Internally Displaced People, many of whom continue to be killed, injured, or subjected to sexual violence, including in the context of inter-communal violence. I stressed the need for perpetrators to be held to account and to accelerate implementation of the security arrangements contained in the Juba Peace Agreement.
I welcome the assurances I received from the authorities about their resolve to accede to the CEDAW as soon as possible and called for improved respect and protection of the rights of women including those in detention.
I will be meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights next week to discuss my findings so far, prior to the 4 March interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Sudan at the Human Rights Council.
I will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan and to engage all the relevant parties in perspective of the written report on the human rights situation in Sudan to the Human Rights Council in June 2022. I am grateful to the UN Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan for its support during the visit.