On the anniversary of protests massacres, the international community must take a strong stand on impunity for widespread human rights abuses in Sudan
The Government of Sudan continues to fail to ensure that those responsible for international crimes and other serious human rights abuses are held to account, in particular when such abuses engage the responsibility of forces and groups under its command. On the second anniversary of the killing by Sudanese security forces of at least 185 peaceful demonstrators, Sudan has taken no clear steps to ensure accountability or grant effective remedies to victims and their families. Meanwhile, serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law continue to be committed in conflict zones and across the country with complete impunity. FIDH, ACJPS and SHRM reiterate their call upon the international community to condemn serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan, call for reform of Sudanese laws that allow impunity for perpetrators of serious crimes, and ensure effective accountability mechanisms are established to grant justice and reparation for victims.
“Whilst Sudan bears the responsibility to stop its forces from committing abuses, deliver remedies and hold those responsible to account, the international community must step up where Sudan has shown it clearly has no intention to do so,” declared our organisations. “The United Nations and African Union must take strong positions to condemn ongoing human rights violations and Sudan's repeated failure to provide justice and reparations to victims. Member states should agree on robust mechanisms for monitoring and documenting serious and widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan, make clear calls for Sudan to stop the abuses, and ensure justice and accountability for victims, including through the revision of laws that grant immunity to state officials” they added. Members of Sudan's security forces enjoy blanket protection for crimes committed in conflict zones and throughout the country. A climate of near-total impunity is created by laws that grant formal immunity from prosecution to members of the armed forces, the NISS — including the Rapid Support Forces under their command — and the police. Statutes of limitation, lack of adequate victims and witness protection and systems of special courts for security forces are also issues of concern. In September and October 2013, Sudanese security forces used live ammunition to disperse peaceful demonstrators in cities throughout Sudan, leading to the deaths of at least 185 people and injuring hundreds. Security officials detained at least 800 demonstrators, opposition party members and activists. Many were released within days, often following summary trials leading to floggings or fines, but others were held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) for weeks or months without charge or access to family or lawyers. Two years after the massacre, the government of Sudan has repeatedly failed to ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into the excessive and lethal force used by security forces and has failed to ensure effective remedies or provide reparation to the victims or their families. While the government has set up Committees with a mandate to investigate the incidents, their composition, the parameters of their investigations and their findings have never been made public. Of at least 85 criminal complaints lodged, just one proceeded to court. The murder conviction of the accused, a Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) officer, was overturned on appeal. Meanwhile, across Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Government forces have continued to directly and indiscriminately target civilians and civilian infrastructure in brutal counter-insurgency campaigns using aerial bombardments and ground offensives. In Darfur, the conflict that has raged for 12 years continues to devastate the lives of civilians and cause mass forced displacement. Levels of violence in early 2015 were reported to be at the highest level since 2004, accompanied by exceptional killings. Government offensives against communities perceived to support the armed opposition have followed a pattern of aerial bombardment followed by ground attacks, including the destruction and looting of villages. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary government force under the command of the NISS and consisting largely of former militias, have led to a number of brutal counterinsurgency campaigns against civilian populations since their creation in mid-2013. Human rights violations have included the forced displacement of entire communities, widespread and severe physical and sexual abuse, including mass rape, extra-judicial killings, acts of torture, arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, and the destruction of essential civilian infrastructure. In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, civilians also continue to be the targets of indiscriminate aerial bombardment and ground offensives. Government forces, again deploying the RSF, have destroyed civilian property including villages, health facilities, schools, mosques and churches. Authorities continue to obstruct humanitarian assistance and carry out arbitrary arrests and commit torture. Their forces and allied militia have been implicated in alarming levels of sexual violence. There is also evidence that Government aircraft has deliberately bombed hospitals and other humanitarian facilities and used cluster bombs in South Kordofan. Mirroring strategies deployed in Darfur, entire communities have been displaced by Government forces in what appears to be collective punishment for their perceived support to the rebel movements based on ethnic identity. “AU and UN member states should send a strong message to Sudan that mass crimes committed in conflict zones and throughout the country will not go unreported” added our organizations. “Effective international monitoring and reporting mechanisms, law reform and the establishment of effective justice and accountability mechanisms are essential to stopping the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law witnessed in Sudan today ”. Background The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) jointly submitted evidence of serious human rights and human rights law violations and other human rights concerns in Sudan since 2011 for the 2016 Universal Periodic Review of Sudan on 21 September 2015. You can read the full report, including recommendations for reform to the government of Sudan here. Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council will consider a report of the UN Independent Expert on Sudan during the 30th Session of the Council taking place on 14 September — 2 October 2015. Human rights groups have called for the adoption of a strong resolution on Sudan that reflects the reality of the human rights situation on the ground, appoints a special mechanism under the special procedures of the Human Rights Council with a mandate to investigate and report abuses to the Council, and deploys a fact-finding mission to Sudan's conflict zones.