human rights council

 

  • Statement: Ethiopia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Ethiopia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Mr President, CIVICUS and Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) welcome the government of Ethiopia’s engagement with the UPR process and particularly for accepting 131 out of 327 UPR recommendations. We also welcome the gradual reopening and operational civic space for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ethiopia; and the Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018, in a continued spirit to make progress towards achieving sustainable peace in the region.

    Notwithstanding some positive developments, we regret that since the UPR review in January 2019, recommendations pertaining to civic space and fundamental freedoms have not been fully implemented by the Ethiopian government. We also note with concern that institutional and legal impediments for sustained political space remain an encumbrance to the development of a vibrant civil society. Independent investigations and accountability for perpetrators of years of human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings of dissidents and protesters, remain insufficient.

    These restrictions have recently led to the closure of the Sidama Media Network (SMN) and the arrest and illegal detention of two of its managers and two board members in 18 July 2019. Such actions are illustrative of the government’s failure to systematically implement UPR recommendations pertaining to freedom of expression.

    Mr President, we are deeply concerned by the government’s failure to adequately respond to ethnic tensions across a number of regions that recently saw the Amhara regional governor and two other government officials killed in June 26, 2019. About 820,000 people were uprooted in Gedeo district and 150,000 in the bordering West Guji zone of Oromia when the violence flared in 2018 remain displaced with deplorable human rights situations. We remain equally alarmed by ethnic violence on 18 July in the Sidama zone leading to the displacement of more than 900 people, mostly women and children.

    Mr President, AHRE and CIVICUS call on the Government of Ethiopia to immediately and urgently take proactive measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly those pertaining to efforts to address intercommunal violence, and ensure protection of people displaced by interethnic disputes.

     

  • Statement: Grave human rights abuses continue in Eritrea

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea

    CIVICUS, along with eight other Africa-based organisations, (see below) welcomes the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea and we ask the UN Human Rights Council as a matter of urgency to renew the mandate, so that the Special Rapporteur can continue its vital monitoring of and reporting on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

    There remain significant and urgent human rights concerns in Eritrea, despite recent diplomatic and bi-lateral developments between Eritrea and Ethiopia and its ongoing dialogues with Djibouti. Civic space is closed, with freedom of expression and peaceful assembly wilfully subverted by the authorities. There is no independent media, and at least 16 journalists remain in detention without trial since the country’s free press was shuttered two decades ago. As the Special Rapporteur highlighted in her report, there exists a culture of impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, including arbitrary and incommunicado detention.

    We regret that the Eritrean government refuses to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Eritrea, and other UN Human Rights Council mechanisms. Eritrea has never received any mandate holder. This lack of the bear minimum of engagement is unacceptable for a member of the Human Rights Council.

    The Special Rapporteur presented a number of welcome benchmarks for human rights progress in her report, and we would like to ask her to elaborate how to operationalize such benchmarks for follow up.

    Mr. Vice President, if the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is not renewed, the Council risks losing this opportunity to address in any way the grave serious human rights abuses occurring in one of its member states. The Council therefore must ensure the continuation of this mandate We call on the government of Eritrea to fully cooperate and allow comprehensive access to all UN Human Rights Council mechanisms.

    1. Africa Monitors
    2. CIVICUS
    3. Eritrean Diaspora in East Africa (EDEA)
    4. Eritrea Focus
    5. Eritrean Law Society (ELS)
    6. Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMHDR)
    7. Network of Eritrean Women
    8. RSF Afrique
    9. PEN Eritrea

     

  • Statement: Investigation needed into human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    35th session UN Human Rights Council
    Statement on situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 
    20 June 2017

    CIVICUS shares the concern of the High Commissioner over the widespread human rights violations committed in the Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental provinces of the DRC since August 2016. 

    Extrajudicial executions of civilians and other atrocities have been systematically carried out forcing over 30.000 people to flee to neighbouring countries and leaving approximately 1.27 million others internally displaced.

    We are concerned by the threats and increased violence targeting journalists including those who covered the massacres in the Kasai region.  We express alarm over the closure of private media outlets deemed critical of the government.

    Mr. Vice President, peaceful protests held recently were violently repressed and security forces carried out widespread arrests of people suspected of organising or participating in such protests.  

    We are also concerned about the arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders for exposing failures of the national economy, the provision of social services and democratic reform. 

    Sadly, some of these human rights defenders are being held in undisclosed locations without access to family members and lawyers. Others have been tortured while in detention.  

    We urge the Council to launch an independent  international investigation into the atrocities committed in the Kasai region and for all perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions.

     

  • Statement: Macedonia's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN), The Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation (MCIC) and CIVICUS welcome the government of North Macedonia's engagement with the UPR process. We also welcome improvements in legislation and practice to promote civic space, particularly the Government’s decision to end the financial inspections of the 22 civil society organisations (CSOs) critical of the previous government and the public conclusion clearing them of any wrongdoing.

    The Government has revised the legal framework to safeguard freedom of expression and opinion and improved the general climate, particularly for independent journalists. We welcome changes in law, relating to the urgent reform priorities, and efforts to enhance the independence of the public broadcasting service and regulatory body. However, despite this positive trajectory, we remain concerned over the frequency of threats being made towards independent journalists. 

    In light of this concern, our recent joint UPR Submission documented that since its last review, North Macedonia has only partially implemented the eight recommendations relating to freedom of expression and opinion.

    We encourage the Government to amend existing legislation which undermines freedom of association. Namely, the Penal code, where legal representatives of associations and foundations are defined as public officials and carry the same responsibilities. Similarly, the recently proposed “Law on Lobbying” could subvert recent improvements by stifling civil society participation in policy dialogue.

    Finally, while improvements were made in the Law on Police, there is still a need to improve the Law on Public Assemblies. Worryingly, this legislation contains burdensome obligations for organisers and requires foreign persons to receive permission before organising protests. While authorities have facilitated numerous gatherings that were peaceful, we remain dismayed at the use of disproportionate force against protesters. In June 2018, police used tear gas and shock bombs, leading to the injury of 25 people. Media coverage of the protest was also hampered by the violence.

    Mr President, BCSDN and MCIC and CIVICUS call on the Government of North Macedonia to take proactive measures to address these concerns and implement recommendations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, an enabling environment for civil society.

     

  • Statement: Mass arrests and killings of protesters in Venezuela

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the report of the High Commissioner on Venezuela 

    CIVICUS thanks the High Commissioner for her report, which shows how deeply the human rights situation has deteriorated in Venezuela.  The escalating political crisis has precipitated a significant increase in violations of civic freedoms: according to the local NGO Foro Penal, as of May 2019 there were 857 political prisoners. Many have reportedly been tortured. Reports of serious reprisals against human rights defenders and humanitarians show the increasing danger of simply carrying out legitimate work to provide humanitarian support in the midst of a crisis, or protect human rights as violations escalate.

    CIVICUS is deeply concerned by mass arrests and killings of protesters during demonstrations. Since the beginning of the year, 60 protesters have reportedly been killed in the protests. Of five killed by security forces during protests calling for the resignation of Nicolas Maduro on 30 April and 1 May, three were not yet 18.

    Venezuela’s indigenous communities have been among those hardest-hit by the humanitarian crisis. A siege of the Pemon indigenous community, imposed after the community attempted to help humanitarian aid enter the country, forced more than 700 hundred members of the community to leave their lands. At least 7 people were killed and 62 arbitrarily arrested during the confrontation. We call for the special protection of indigenous communities.

    We are concerned by politically-motivated internet restrictions and the blockage of online content, including that of BBC and CNN International. Online censorship has affected over 20 online media outlets, severely restricting citizens’ right to information.

    We welcome the agreement reached between the office of the High Commissioner and the Venezuelan Government for a team of human rights officers based in the country, and we hope this is the first step towards enhanced monitoring and reporting on the worsening human rights crisis in Venezuela, including measures to ensure accountability for perpetrators and reparations to the thousands who have fallen victim to human rights abuses.

    We echo the High Commissioner’s remarks in her June statement that ‘the people of Venezuela cannot afford further deterioration of the situation. We ask the High Commissioner what immediate steps the Council and its member states can take to support those in Venezuela who are advocating for the protection of their rights and those seeking redress for the harm they have suffered?

     

  • Statement: Nicaragua not implementing human rights recommendations

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Nicaragua's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    Red Local and CIVICUS welcome the government of Nicaragua's engagement with the UPR process.

    However, our joint UPR submission documents that since its previous review Nicaragua has not implemented any of the 26 recommendations it received relating to civic space, 17 of which concern freedom of expression and access to information. We also regret that during the current cycle, recommendations regarding the provision of access to and cooperation with regional and international human rights mechanisms, the investigation of human rights abuses perpetrated against demonstrators, and the safety and freedom of jailed journalists and HRDs were not accepted by the government.

    As detailed in our submission, Nicaraguan legislation still treats slander and insult as criminal offences, and the freedom of the press continues to be limited by the manipulated allocation of official advertising, denial of access to cover government activities, tight control of the flow of information from the top of the state apparatus, and media concentration in the hands of the presidential family and their allies. Acts of explicit censorship have also been recorded.

    As also documented in our submission, legislation regulating the establishment, operations and dissolution of CSOs is applied arbitrarily, with the aim of hindering and intimidating the staff of independent CSOs, which have also been affected by legal or de facto restrictions on receiving external funding and sustaining international collaboration. Land rights defenders, women’s and LGBTI rights activists, journalists and bloggers are also routinely stigmatised, harassed, criminalised, arbitrarily arrested and physically attacked.

    The exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly is subjected to de facto and legal barriers, from authorisation requirements to hold demonstrations and a Sovereign Security Law that broadly defines security threats to criminalise common tactics of protest movements, to the illegal use of excessive and deadly force against demonstrators, which between April and August 2018 resulted in at least 300 people killed.

    We call on the Government of Nicaragua to take proactive measures to address these concerns and implement recommendations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, an enabling environment for civil society.

     

  • Statement: Qatar's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint statement on Qatar's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    CIVICUS and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights note that since its 2nd UPR cycle in 2014, Qatar acceded to the ICCPR and the ICESCR as a major step towards realizing human rights in the country. However, there remain critical gaps in implementation, particularly around civic space. Of the 31 recommendations related to civic space, 24 were accepted and seven were noted. However, Qatar has not implemented 13 of these recommendations, including to revise all laws which restrict freedom of assembly and association.

    Mr President, civic space in Qatar remains closed. Law No. 12 of 2004 and Law No. 18 still place considerable hurdles, restrictions and fines on civil society looking to form associations or peacefully assemble. Furthermore, while revisions have been made to Qatar’s Kafala (sponsorship) system, authorities continued to place limitations on the rights of foreign workers to join unions or engage in peaceful strike action.

    Human rights defenders continue to face restrictions in their work. On 28 April 2018, Dr Najeeb Al-Nuaimi, a well-known human rights lawyer who voluntarily defends prisoners of conscience in Qatar, received the latest in a series of travel bans. Few human rights defenders confidently continue their work under the constant threat of detainment. Furthermore, freedom of expression remains under threat in Qatar. On 16 April 2019, authorities arbitrarily closed the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, an organization committed to freedom of expression.

    Moreover, the 2014 Cybercrimes Prevention Law places heavy penalties on journalists and researchers including fines of up to a maximum of 500,000 Riyals (approx. US$137,500) and prison sentences ranging from one to 10 years. We are therefore concerned that Qatar did not accept a number of recommendations under this UPR cycle relating to online expression, including to reform the repressive Cybercrime Law.

    Mr President, in this context, civic space remains under constant threat in Qatar. We call on the government to fully adopt and implement the provisions of the ICCPR and ICESCR into national legislation as per their obligations, and take all the necessary steps to protect and promote civic space both in law and in practice in the country, by implementing all UPR recommendations related to these rights.

     

  • Statement: Reprisals at the national level against experts who report back to the Human Rights Council

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organisations are gravely concerned by the proliferation of reprisals against Special Procedures mandate holders and members of Expert Mechanisms and Commissions of Inquiry (COI) by States, including members of the Council, as well as threats against the Special Procedures system as a whole.

    Special Procedures are the eyes and ears of the Council and ensure that this body’s work remains relevant and informed by the reality of human rights on the ground. Reprisals aim to discredit, intimidate, deter and silence these experts, and to prevent civil society from engaging with them.

    We are alarmed by a pattern of reprisals and non-cooperation by Council-member, the Philippines. The government has threatened the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings with physical violence on numerous occasions. It has made terrorism accusations against the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

    Burundi and Eritrea are also engaged in patterns of reprisals, with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and members of the COI’s on both Burundi and Eritrea having been attacked on multiple occasions, at the Council, the GA or in the media. The Maldives has accused the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief of spreading anti-Islamic activities, resulting in death threats against him online. The Special Rapporteur on Myanmarhas faced reprisals and has also experienced violent threats on social media.

    We call on States to cooperate in good faith and end all reprisals against Special Procedures and those who cooperate with them. The President and States must act immediately in meetings when such reprisals occur. This Council must safeguard its Special Procedures from all efforts to undermine them through reprisals or other dangerous initiatives.

    Article 19
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    Concelho Indigenista Missionário CIMI
    Conectas Direitos Humanos
    DefendDefenders
    Franciscans International
    Human Rights Law Centre
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)
    International Humanist and Ethical Union
    International Service for Human Rights
    World Movement Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Statement: Severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

    We welcome the Special Rapporteur’s oral update on Myanmar and urge the Government to resume its cooperation and grant access to the Special Rapporteur, and to address the situation on the ground.

    We are particularly concerned that severe restrictions to fundamental freedoms persist in Myanmar. Peaceful protesters continue to face arbitrary arrest and excessive use of force by the police. In the last few months, protesters have been charged under the Penal Code or the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for their activism.

    A Resolution adopted at the last Session of this Council called on Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders and activists detained under various restrictive laws. While journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo may have been freed, restrictive laws including the Telecommunications Law, Unlawful Associations Act, Official Secrets Act and defamation provisions in the Penal Code continue to be used to prosecute activists and journalists in Myanmar. Irrawaddy editor U Ye Ni is facing defamation charges for an article on the conflict on the Rakhine state which the Myanmar military deemed “one-sided”.

    Those who criticize the military, even satirically, are persecuted. Members of the Peacock Generation troupe face defamation charges after live-streaming on Facebook a satirical performance which criticized the military. In April, prominent filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was detained in connection with a series of social media posts in which he criticised the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

    We are deeply concerned by increasing restrictions to humanitarian access in Rakhine State, deliberately denying support to a population which is gravely in need of it, and willfully obstructing independent reports of the atrocities which are being committed there.

    Myanmar’s backsliding on democratic norms compounds the gross human rights violations outlined in the Special Rapporteur’s report. We urge the government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and all other Human Rights Council mechanisms and, in the absence of such cooperation, we ask the Special Rapporteur what action she would suggest that states and national and international civil society could take in order to hold Myanmar accountable to upholding democratic norms?
     

     

  • Statement: The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and association 
    Joint statement by ICNL, Article 19, CIVICUS, ECNL, and World Movement for Democracy

    Activists, peaceful protesters, and civil society have harnessed the power of the Internet and digital technologies, to share information, and to build and mobilise communities at unprecedented scale and speed. 

    Whilst this Council has repeatedly affirmed the maxim that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online,” online civic space is under intense, and increasing pressure, worldwide. 

    We therefore share the Special Rapporteur’s concern that many States, including members of this Council, misuse emerging technologies to surveil civil society groups and peaceful protesters, harass human rights defenders online, deliberately obstruct access to online information, and abuse vague legislation restricting online expression to target dissenting voices. 

    In Sudan, we condemn the recent Internet shutdowns by the TMC, in an attempt to conceal the brutality of the unlawful and wholly disproportionate crackdown by the military against protesters, including the use of lethal force and disturbing accounts of sexual violence. This Council must hold Sudan to account, including by establishing a fact-finding mission. 

    In Russia, merely posting about a protest online can attract reprisals. Just this month, prominent opposition activist Leonid Volkov - who webcast a protest in September 2018 - was arbitrarily detained for his alleged role in “organising” a protest and “inciting disorder”. 

    In Turkey, the presence of secure communication apps on individuals’ devices has been used as the basis of bogus terrorism charges against journalists, and civil society. 

    In Liberia this month, targeted shutdowns saw access to social media, email services and news agencies cut off in response to protests against state corruption.

    These and all other efforts to frustrate the exercise of assembly and association rights online, and choke off civic space, demand the urgent attention of this Council. Our organisations encourage the Special Rapporteur to continue his work on this important area.

    Mr President, 

    We agree that as “gatekeepers” to online spaces, the private sector plays a vital role in safeguarding civic space online. The Ruggie Principles on business and human rights provide a clear framework to ensure human rights standards guide their policies and practices.

     

  • Statement: Vietnam's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Mr President, VOICE, CIVICUS and FORUM-ASIA welcome the government of Vietnam's engagement with the UPR process including its decision to accept 241 recommendations on a range of human rights issues.

    We welcome the commitment of the government of Vietnam to extend cooperation with UN Special Procedures  and in the spirit of such cooperation we urge the authorities to extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders, the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

    We note that Vietnam accepted recommendations to guarantee  and lift  restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression. However, we regret that since the review activists have been arrested or convicted for online posts including Le Minh The, and Nguyen Ngoc Anh. We are also disappointed that the recommendations pertaining to the release of political prisoners including Tran Thi Nga and Hoang Duc Binh were not accepted by the government. According to human rights groups an estimated 264 political prisoners remain in jail. Many have been ill-treated in prison and detained thousands of kilometers from their families.

    We note that Vietnam accepted recommendations to guarantee  and improve protection  of freedom of peaceful assembly. Despite these commitments, over a hundred protesters who participated in the nationwide demonstrations against bills on Special Economic Zones and Cybersecurity in June 2018 have been convicted and jailed, or are at risk of physical attacks, since the review. We remain concerned about the restrictive legal framework use to suppress the formation of independent CSOs. 

    Mr President, VOICE and CIVICUS call on the Government of Vietnam to take proactive measures to address these concerns and implement recommendations to create and maintain, in law and in practice, an enabling environment for civil society.

     

  • States falling short on protecting migrants' rights defenders

    Joint statement at the 45th Session of the UN Human Rights Council -- delivered by International Service for Human Rights

    General debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development


    As the High Commissioner recognised in her opening remarks to this session, States have a responsibility to ensure that migrants' lives are protected and their human rights upheld; she made clear that the dire precarity of migrants in camps on Lesvos, and the risks to life of migrants facing collective pushback and expulsions, underscored ‘the need for solidarity and shared responsibility among EU Member States’. 

    Her statement follows on the heels of timely and incisive reporting by the Special Procedures – including of course the report of the SR on Migrants to HRC44, but also those by mandates addressing human rights defenders, freedom of association and assembly, and international solidarity. 

    For the human rights of migrants to be fully protected, the right of individuals and organisations to defend migrants’ rights – whether through humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue, legal aid, policy advocacy, or civil disobedience – must also be fully protected. This should no longer be up for discussion. 

    And yet, the concerns – and calls to action – have fallen on deaf ears. 

    In Europe, the work of think tanks and NGOs such as the ReSOMA project has led to the documentation of at least 171 individuals in 60 cases of criminalisation of migrant rights defenders over the period 2014-2019. The ‘crimes’ of which they stand accused are based on simple acts of human kindness: giving someone a ride in their car in a mountainous area so that they won’t get hypothermia; saving someone who is drowning at sea; giving someone food or shelter; or lending a cell phone. 

    While rarely involving sentencing, the cases show a worrying trend of abuse of short-term detentions (with police often failing to substantiate charges) or, where charges are brought, lengthy and expensive judicial proceedings that put peoples’ lives on hold and their livelihoods at risk. This has a deeper chilling effect on defenders who are themselves migrants, and whose work may put their residence permits, homes and jobs in jeopardy. 

    The EU and many Member States at this Council can and do speak out in support of human rights defenders, which is an important contribution, but we must be clear: these practices can and often do constitute judicial harassment. This is not something that happens only ‘abroad’, nor a practice that can be excused if it happens within your borders. 

    ISHR and the co-signatories to this statement have grown increasingly concerned about the reluctance of this Council to contribute meaningfully to advancing the protection of the human rights of migrants in multilateral, regional and national spaces. We urge all governments to fully apply the OHCHR Guidelines on Migrants in Vulnerable Situations, including by providing a safe and enabling environment for all migrant rights’ defenders. 

    And we urge members and observers of the Human Rights Council to model a rights-based approach for other intergovernmental bodies, by bringing the voices of migrants and their supporters to speak to the serious, often life-altering impacts to which their border policies give rise. 

     

  • States should defend environmental human rights defenders


    Joint Letter at the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Our organisations are calling on all UN Member States to demonstrate their support to environmental human rights defenders. 


    March 12, 2019
    To: UN Member States

    We all want to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and to be able to provide sustenance and a healthy, dignified life for our families. Human survival and well-being rests on a biodiverse and healthy environment and a safe climate. Environmental human rights defenders help us to achieve that - they defend the planet and their communities from the impact of harmful resource extraction or pollution by unscrupulous companies or governments. Their work is essential to attaining the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no-one is left behind.

    We need your support to defend environmental human rights defenders.

    At its current 40th session, the Human Rights Council is discussing a draft resolution on environmental human rights defenders. This is a timely and important initiative as UN agencies, human rights organisations and the media have documented unprecedented killings and attacks against people defending land and the environment.

    It is important for the Council to adopt a resolution that reflects the gravity and the reality of the situation defenders face every day. We therefore call on members of the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that the resolution adopted by the Council clearly:

    • Outlines the root causes of the threats against environmental human rights defenders, including development and commercial activities with adverse social and environmental impacts, or those imposed on communities without meaningful consultation and respect for their rights;
    • Recognises that environmental human rights defenders confront multiple adverse interests when challenging State and corporate activities, and highlights the collusion between different actors which hinders the work of defenders and aggravates their vulnerable position;
    • Clearly names the industries and activities most dangerous to defenders, such as the mining industry, natural resource exploitation, agribusiness and large-scale development projects;
    • Acknowledges the wide number of States that have recognised the right to a healthy environment in their internal legal order;
    • Recognises that the lack of effective access to information, access to participation and access to justice causes environmental conflicts and leads to violence against defenders
    • Calls for the development of protection mechanisms for environmental human rights defenders in line with best practice identified by the Special Rapporteur;
    • Articulates the specific risks women and indigenous human rights defenders face and the need for an intersectional approach in assessing and designing protection measures for defenders;
    • Calls on States to ensure that all communities are meaningfully consulted and can participate genuinely in matters that affect their rights and, in particular the use, management and conservation of their land and natural resources;
    • Calls on States to guarantee the right to free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples;
    • Calls on States to adopt legislation that creates due diligence obligations for companies registered in their jurisdictions and those of their subsidiaries;
    • Articulates the responsibility of businesses to respect the rights of human rights defenders and highlights measures companies should take to contribute to addressing their insecurity;
    • Adequately articulates the responsibility of investors and the obligations of development finance institutions to respect human rights in the context of their investments and to develop and implement effective policies to prevent and address threats; and
    • Stresses that an open civic space, including respect for the rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association and movement, as well as the right to participate in the conduct of government and public affairs, is vital to the protection of both a healthy and sustainable environment and environmental human rights defenders.

    The draft being negotiated in Geneva contains some of these essential elements, which must be defended, but also offers significant potential for strengthening.

    As negotiations enter the final stretch, we urge you to actively support the development of a resolution which clearly recognises the vital contribution of environmental human rights defenders to sustainable development and the effective enjoyment of human rights and formulates concrete asks of the States, development finance institutions and companies with the power of safeguarding that contribution.

    1. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    2. Amnesty International
    3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia)
    4. CIVICUS
    5. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    6. Earth Justice
    7. Front Line Defenders
    8. Global Witness
    9. JASS (Just Associates)
    10. IM-Defensoras
    11. Christian Development Alternative (CDA)
    12. Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers Association
    13. Social Justice Connection
    14. Franciscans International
    15. Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos - Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)
    16. Geneva for Human Rights
    17. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    18. Réseau Ouest africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains/West African Human Rights Defenders' Network
    19. Coordination des associations et des particuliers pour la liberté de conscience
    20. La'o Hamutuk
    21. Karapatan Philippines
    22. Human Rights House Foundation
    23. HETAVED SKILLS ACADEMY AND NETWORKS
    24. International Commission of Jurists
    25. Conectas Direitos Humanos
    26. World Movement for Democracy
    27. Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    28. Center for Civil Liberties
    29. Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights
    30. Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
    31. International Women's Development Agency (IWDA)
    32. Humanitaire Plus (Togo)
    33. Coalition Burkinabé des Défenseurs des Droits Humains
    34. AMARA
    35. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC)
    36. Odhikar
    37. Freedom House
    38. Red Internacional Unión Latinoamericana de Mujeres - Red ULAM
    39. Freedom House
    40. Rivers without Boundaries Mongolia
    41. Asian Legal Resource Centre
    42. OYU TOLGOI WATCH
    43. Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’homme Iteka
    44. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
    45. AVIPA association des victimes parents et amis du 28 septembre 2009 Guinée
    46. Porgera Red Wara (River) Women's Association Incorporated (PRWWA INC.)
    47. KRuHA - people's coalition for the right to water
    48. Asia Pacific Network of Environment Defenders (APNED)
    49. EMPOWER INDIA
    50. EarthRights International
    51. Dawei Probono Lawyer Network (DPLN)
    52. Africa Network for Enivironment and Economic Justice(ANEEJ)
    53. Partnership for Justice, Nigeria
    54. Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    55. Huridocs
    56. Steps Without Borders NGO
    57. Humanists International
    58. Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH)
    59. Labour,Health and Human Rights Development Centre
    60. Institute for Multi-Resource Development (IMdev)
    61. Not1More
    62. Patrons of Khuvsgul lake movement
    63. Liberia Coalition of Human Rights DefendersHuman Concern, Inc
    64. Brot für die Welt
    65. ARTICLE 19
    66. Peace Brigades International
    67. Metro Center Journalists Rights & Advocacy
    68. World Uyghur Congress
    69. 350.org
    70. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    71. Latinamerikagrupperna
    72. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    73. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
    74. SUDIA
    75. Synergia - 36/5000 Initiatives for Human Rights
    76. Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
    77. Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
    78. Center for Women's Global Leadership
    79. Transformative and Integrative Build Out For All
    80. Institute for Strategic & Development Studies
    81. Reseau de Femmes du mMlieu Rural Haitien
    82. East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
    83. FIFCJ
    84. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    85. Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
    86. Zo Indigenous Forum
    87. MADRE
    88. FOKUS Forum for women and development
    89. Bougainville Women's Federation
    90. Human Rights Council-Ethiopia
    91. Environment Defenders Advocacy
    92. Porgera Women's Rights Watch
    93. Independent Human Rights Analyst and Strategy Advisor
    94. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO)
    95. Community Resource Centre Foundation
    96. MANUSHYA FOUNDATION
    97. Equitable Cambodia
    98. Friends with Environment in Development
    99. Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB)
    100. Association For Promotion Sustainable development
    101. WoMin Afrcan Alliance
    102. Both ENDS
    103. Child Rights Connect
    104. CONSEIL REGIONAL DES ORGANISATIONS NON GOUVERNEMENTALES DE DEVELOPPEMENT
    105. Enda Lead Afrique Francophone
    106. Human Rights Law Centre
    107. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
    108. World Voices Uganda
    109. Africa Center for Policy Facilitation
    110. Estonian Forest Aid
    111. Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)
    112. Collectif Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l'Homme et de la Démocratie (COCODHD)
    113. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    114. North-East Affected Area Development Society (NEADS)
    115. Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project
    116. Forum Syd Sweden
    117. COALITION AGAINST LAND GRABBING (CALG) - PHILIPPINES
    118. UNLAD-BLFFA
    119. Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC)
    120. BankTrack
    121. CORE Coalition
    122. The Gaia Foundation
    123. Labour Behind the Label
    124. Bataris Formation Center
    125. Salva la Selva
    126. Observatoire d'etudes et d'appui a la responsabilite sociale et environnementale ( OEARSE )
    127. REd de Género y Medio Ambiente
    128. London Mining Network
    129. Abibiman Foundation
    130. Ecodesarollo
    131. The Kesho Trus
    132. Organisation mondiale contre la torture
    133. PAPUA NEW GUINEA MINING WATCH GROUP ASSOCIATION INC
    134. 11.11.11 - Koepel van de Vlaamse Noord-Zuidbeweging
    135. Center for Global Nonkilling
    136. Centro salvadoreño de Tecnología Apropiada
    137. Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CIDDH)
    138. Friends of the Earth NI
    139. Forest Peoples Programme
    140. Environmental Investigation Agency
    141. Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (FUNDEPS)
    142. Bank Information Center
    143. Africa development Interchange Network
    144. Voluntariados Intag
    145. Mangrove Action Project
    146. IUCN NL
    147. Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC)
    148. Amazon Watch
    149. HRM @Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan@
    150. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
    151. Asociación ambiental e cultural Petón do Lobo
    152. Asociación galega Cova Crea
    153. Amigos e Amigas dos Bosques "O Ouriol do Anllóns"
    154. Réseau Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l'Homme (RECODH)
    155. CNCD-11.11.11
    156. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    157. Rainforest Foundation Norway
    158. Women Working Worldwide
    159. Greenpeace
    160. AMDH- Maroc
    161. In Difesa Di , per i diritti umani e chi li difende
    162. Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines
    163. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO) - Uganda

     

  • Strengthen the work of UN Special Procedures that can protect human rights

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Joint Statement: 20 NGOs express support for the Coordination Committee’s process to strengthen the work of the Special Procedures

    We deliver this statement on behalf of 20 NGOs. 

    We note the concerns in the Declaration of the Special Procedures’ mandate holders at the Annual Meeting 2019 and share their concern about the global retrenchment against the values and obligations embedded in international human rights law and the challenges they spell out with regard to non-cooperation. 

    We also express appreciation for the process set in place by the Special Procedures Coordination Committee to discuss ways in which the work can be strengthened including by seeking input from a wide range of stakeholders. This process presents the most appropriate way to ensure the effectiveness of the Special Procedures in protecting and promoting human rights, and to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation and address situations where there may be concerns regarding the actions of individual mandate holders. 

    We hope that this process will also provide an opportunity to discuss issues of chronic underfunding, non-cooperation of States with the Special Procedures, acts of reprisal and intimidation against human rights defenders and ad hominem attacks against mandate holders and how to make non-cooperation including selective cooperation by states more costly. 

    Amnesty International
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Association for Women’s Rights in Development
    Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    Center for Reproductive Rights
    Child Rights Connect
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 
    Colombian Commission of Jurists
    Defence for Children International 
    Geneva for Human Rights
    ILGA World
    International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
    International Service of Human Rights
    Peace Brigades International
    Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI)
    Swedish Association for Sexuality Education
    Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

     

  • Sudan: Ensure continued public debates on the human rights situation

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland)

    Excellencies,

    Following the military coup of 25 October 2021,[1] the UN Human Rights Council took urgent action by holding a special session, on 5 November 2021, and adopting a resolution re­ques­ting the High Commis­sioner to designate an Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan.[2]

    As per resolution S-32/1, which was adopted by consensus with the support of the Group of African Sta­tes, the Expert’s mandate will be ongoing “until the restoration of [Sudan’s] civi­lian-led Govern­ment.” The Council made it clear that the term of office for the designated Expert will conclude “upon the restoration of [Sudan’s] civilian-led Government.”[3]

    Ahead of the Council’s 50th session (13 June-8 July 2022), we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations, are writing to urge your delegation to support the adoption of a resolution that ensures continued attention to Sudan’s human rights situation through enhanced interactive dia­logues at the Council’s 52nd and 53rd regular sessions.

    While the Expert’s mandate is ongoing, a resolution is required for the Council to hold public de­bates and continue to formally discuss the situation. A resolution at the Council’s 50th session would ope­ra­tio­nalise resolution S-32/1, which in its operative paragraph 19 called upon “the High Commis­sioner and the designated Expert to monitor human rights violations and abu­ses and to continue to bring information thereon to the attention of the Human Rights Council, and to advise on the further steps that may be needed if the situation continues to deteriorate.”

    *   *   *

    As the de facto military authorities are consolidating their power[4] and human rights violations continue, including against peaceful protesters[5] and in Darfur and other conflict areas,[6] once-yearly reporting by the High Com­mis­sioner as part of her reports and updates under the Council’s agenda item 2, followed by a ge­neral debate, would be insufficient to maintain an adequate level of atten­tion to the country.

    The Council has a responsibility to follow up on its meaningful action on Sudan. It should ensure that the High Commissioner publicly and regularly reports on the human rights situation and that dedicated public debates continue to be held. The High Commissioner, with the assistance of the desi­gna­ted Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, should be able to present updates and reports on the situ­ation of human rights in Sudan.

    Programme budget implications (PBIs) are required for the formal presentation of reports to the Council and holding of interactive dialogues and enhanced interactive dialogues. A resolution with the necessary PBIs could be approached from a technical perspective; it could be a procedural text that achieves just this: mobilising budget for reports and public debates on Sudan.

    We believe that interactive dialogues on Sudan’s hu­man rights situation should be held in an enhanced format, allowing for the participation of various stakeholders, including UN agency and civil society representatives. We also believe that the Council should discuss the human rights situation in Sudan at least twice a year. Furthermore, we believe that to avoid any risk of a public reporting gap, the Council should act at its 50th session – the last session during which presentation of a comprehensive written report is currently planned.

    Ahead of the Council’s 50th session, we therefore urge your delegation to support the adoption of a resolution that:

    • Recalls resolution S-32/1, including its request that the High Commis­sioner and the desi­gna­ted Expert continue to report on human rights violations and abu­ses com­mitted in Sudan and to advise on the further steps that may be needed;
    • Requests the High Commissioner, with the assistance of the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, to update the Council at its 52nd session, in an en­han­ced interactive dialogue, on the situation of human rights in Sudan; and
    • Further requests the High Commissioner, with the assistance of the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, to present to the Council, at its 53rd session, a comprehensive written report focusing on the situation of human rights in Sudan, to be followed by an enhanced interactive dialogue, and to continue to report on the situation of human rights in Sudan to the Council twice a year.

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.

    Sincerely,

    1. Act for Sudan
    2. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    3. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
    4. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    5. Amnesty International
    6. Association of Sudanese-American Professors in America (ASAPA)
    7. Atrocities Watch
    8. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    9. CIVICUS
    10. CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
    11. Darfur Bar Association
    12. Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation
    13. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    14. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
    15. Geneva for Human Rights / Genève pour les Droits de l’Homme (GHR)
    16. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
    17. Governance Programming Overseas
    18. HAKI Africa – Kenya
    19. HUDO Centre
    20. Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy – Sudan
    21. Human Rights Watch
    22. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    23. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
    24. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    25. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
    26. International Service for Human Rights
    27. Investors Against Genocide
    28. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) – Sudan
    29. Justice Africa Sudan
    30. Justice Centre for Advocacy and Legal Consultations – Sudan
    31. Kamma Organisation for Development Initiatives (KODI)
    32. Lawyers for Justice Sudan
    33. Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
    34. Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
    35. Never Again Coalition
    36. Nubsud Human Rights Monitors Organization (NHRMO)
    37. Physicians for Human Rights
    38. REDRESS
    39. Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS) – Sudan
    40. Regional Coalition for WHRDs in MENA (WHRDMENA Coalition)
    41. Rights for Peace
    42. Rights Realization Centre (RRC)
    43. Sudan and South Sudan Forum e.V.
    44. Sudan’s Doctors for Human Rights
    45. The Sudanese Archives
    46. Sudanese Human Rights Initiative (SHRI)
    47. Sudanese Lawyers and Legal Practitioners’ Association in the UK
    48. Sudanese Women Rights Action
    49. Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM)
    50. Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker
    51. Sudan Unlimited
    52. SUDO (UK)
    53. Waging Peace

     

    [1] DefendDefenders et al., “Sudan: The UN Human Rights Council should act urgently and hold a special session,” 28 October 2021, https://defenddefenders.org/sudan-the-un-human-rights-council-should-act-urgently-and-hold-a-special-session/ (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [2] DefendDefenders, “The UN Human Rights Council takes a step to address the crisis in Sudan,” 5 November 2021, https://defenddefenders.org/the-un-human-rights-council-takes-a-step-to-address-the-crisis-in-sudan/ (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [3] HRC resolution S-32/1, UN Doc. A/HRC/RES/S-32/1, available at https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G21/319/08/PDF/G2131908.pdf (operative paragraphs 15 and 17).

    [4] Sudan Information Service, “Sudan Uprising Report: Build up to the military coup of 25 October,” 6 November 2021, https://www.sudaninthenews.com/political-briefings (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [5] Human Rights Watch, “Sudan: Ongoing Clampdown on Peaceful Protesters 3 Months After Coup; Concrete Action Needed to End Repression,” 3 February 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/03/sudan-ongoing-clampdown-peaceful-protesters (accessed 4 May 2022).

    [6] African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), “West Darfur: 35 people killed and a dozen injured in Jebel Moon attack as security continues to deteriorate in Sudan,” 24 March 2022, https://www.acjps.org/west-darfur-35-people-killed-and-a-dozen-injured-in-jebel-moon-attack-as-security-continues-to-deteriorate-across-sudan/ (accessed 9 May 2022).

     

  • Sudan: Excessive force of protests continues under transitional government

    42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Statement on the situation of human rights in Sudan

    CIVICUS and the Sudanese Development Initiative are encouraged by the agreement reached between the Forces for Freedom and Change and the Transitional Military Council on 5 July 2019.  We applaud the African Union and Ethiopia for their role in mediating the Sudanese-led talks and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for its support to the process.

    Consequently, there has been some improvement, albeit minimal, in the human rights situation in Sudan. There are reports of activists and human rights defenders facing intimidation, arrests and government surveillance as well as Sudanese militia continuing to use excessive force to respond to peaceful protests. 

    Security personnel who used excessive force in June 2019 against peaceful protesters have not been held accountable and brought to justice. We are outraged that four school children were among five people shot dead by security forces during a peaceful protest in the Sudanese city - El-Obeid on 29 July 2019. 

    Mr. President, CIVICUS welcomes the agreement reached in August 2019 which includes a commitment to conduct an investigation into the violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters in June 2019. However, for sustainable peace and stability in Sudan, it is imperative for an independent, impartial and transparent investigation be immediately conducted into violations and abuses committed in relation to peaceful protests since December 2018 to ensure justice to all victims of such violence. 

    We call on the transitional government to ensure the release of detained activists, work towards locating missing individuals from the 3 June sit-in dispersal, and refrain from using force against peaceful protesters.  The transitional government should move away from Sudan’s turbulent past by  protecting  the right to freedom of expression for all persons, and work towards an effective and peaceful transition toward democracy.

    We urge the Sudanese authorities and citizens to continue their commitments and spirit of dialogue in addressing all the underlying causes of the protests which has resulted in this historic revolution. 

    We call on the Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert at this critical time, and we ask the Independent Expert on Sudan what steps the international community, including the Human Rights Council, should be taking to address the ongoing human rights violations in Sudan, and to ensure accountability for perpetrators and justice for those affected since December 2018?

     

  • Sudan: More than 100 people were killed when paramilitary forces dispersed peaceful protests

    41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Interactive dialogue on Sudan

    CIVICUS notes the efforts that have been made by the Sudanese authorities and Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) towards establishment of an OHCHR country office in Sudan in line with resolution 39/22 of the Human Rights Council.  We now urge the Sovereign Council of Sudan and OHCHR to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to operationalize the OHCHR office to provide technical advice, monitoring and public reporting with unrestricted access to all parts of the country, with a view to fulfilling Sudan’s human rights obligations and commitments.

    We welcome ongoing efforts between the Sudanese authorities and civilian leaders particularly those facilitated by the African Union and Ethiopia to finalise a peace deal that will guide the political transition and lead the country to elections in three years.  The current peace deal which is due to be finalized provides for an independent national investigation into all acts of violence committed since February 2019.   However, for the transition to be effective and stable, the scope of these investigations must include all violence against peaceful protesters and restrictions placed on fundamental freedoms since the protests started in December 2018. 

    In particular, the human rights violations committed by the paramilitary forces – the Rapid Response Forces and the National Intelligence and Security Forces (NISS) during the protests must be investigated by an independent, impartial, thorough inquiry. More than 100 people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary forces violently dispersed peaceful protesters when peace negotiations reached an impasse on 3 June 2019. We urge the Sudanese authorities to ensure that security forces respond to ongoing and future protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations and address underlying causes of the protests.

    All human rights defenders, representatives of civil society and citizens still in detention in connection with the protests should be released unconditionally.  We also call on the Sudanese authorities to respect the rights of citizens to access and information and restore internet connections in all parts of the country where the internet was shut down in an attempt to conceal the brutality of the crackdown by the military against protesters.
      
    It is past time for the international community to take decisive action on the human rights situation in Sudan. We call on the Council to provide all necessary resources to carry out an independent, impartial inquiry into all acts of violence against protesters since December 2018, so that perpetrators can be held to account.

     

  • Sudan: The increasing violence requires the Council’s attention

    Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

    Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioner's oral update on Sudan

    Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

    Thank you, Mr President,

    CIVICUS and its partners in Sudan welcome the oral update by the High Commissioner.

    Membership to the Human Rights Council should only be attained by States who respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Once again, we witness the election of a State in which fundamental rights are utterly violated.

    Despite the signing of a tripartite framework agreement to pave the way for a power transition to civilian rule, the human rights situation continues to deteriorate. Over the past year, Civic space has severely declined. Authorities have resorted to excessive force against protesters, including firing live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas. The State has imposed excessively restrictive measures which have hampered access to humanitarian and life-saving assistance for people in conflict-affected areas.

    There are increasing reports of sexual and gender-based violence with rape and enforced disappearances being used as weapons to intimidate pro-democracy activists. About 10 cases of kidnap and rape by security and military personnel have been reported between December 2022 and January 2023.

    High Commissioner, what can the Council do to make sure that the Sudanese people are free to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and association without fear of reprisals? Furthermore, we call on the Sudanese government to immediately put an end to the violence against women human rights defenders, women’s rights groups and women protesters.

    We thank you.


     Civic space in Sudan is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor 

     

     

  • Sudan: The UN Human Rights Council should act urgently and hold a special session

    Following the 25 October 2021 military coup in Sudan, CIVICUS and partners have released a call on the UN Human Rights Council to convene a special session to address the crisis in the country. 


    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland)

    Excellencies,

    As violence is increasing in Sudan following the military coup of 25 October 2021 and decisive action is needed to protect the transition, Sudan’s constitutional order, and the human rights of people in Sudan, the UN Human Rights Council has a res­ponsi­bility to act urgently.

    The Council should fulfil its mandate to prevent violations and respond promptly to human rights emer­gen­cies by convening a special session and adopting a resolution requesting the UN High Com­mis­sio­ner for Human Rights to set up a fact-finding mission to monitor, verify and report on the situ­ation in Sudan with a view to preventing further human rights violations and abuses, iden­ti­fying per­pe­trators, and ensuring ac­coun­tability for these violations and abuses.

    Ahead of the 48thsession of the Human Rights Council (13 September-11 October 2021), 37 civil so­ciety organisations (CSOs) highlighted[1] the need for the Coun­cil to extend its support to, and scrutiny of, Sudan. The CSOs highlighted that Su­dan’s political transition re­mained incomplete, mentioned on­going challenges and risks, and urged States to maintain the moni­tor­ing and public reporting ca­pacity of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). They wrote: “[T]he Human Rights Coun­cil has a respon­sibi­lity to keep Sudan high on its list of priorities and to contribute to mea­ningful pro­gress in the country.”

    Their call remained unanswered as the Council failed to adopt any Sudan-focused resolution.

    Two weeks after the session ended, on 25 October 2021, Sudan’s military forces arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several civilian figures, including members of the Transitional Government and Transitional Sove­reign Council (SC), who were placed under house arrest or taken to unknown loca­tions. At the time of writing, several of them remain held incommunicado or under house arrest. Military elements took con­trol of the national television and key centres of information. They imposed a partial in­ternet shutdown in the country and closed roads, bridges, and the airport in Khartoum.

    This military coup occurred one month before the head of the former Transitional Military Council (TMC), Ge­neral Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, who had since August 2019 been heading the SC, was due to hand over the presidency of the SC to civilian representatives, as per the power-sharing agreement and Constitutional Document of 2019.[2]

    General al-Burhan announced a nation-wide state of emer­gen­cy and the dissolution of the SC and the civilian-led Transitional Government.

    He unilaterally announced the suspension of Articles 11, 12, 15, 16, 24-3, 71, and 72 of the Cons­ti­tutional Document. These articles pertain to the SC, the Transitional Council of Ministers and Cabinet, the Transitional Legislative Council (which was to be constituted), and the TMC. The latter’s disso­lution seems to have been annulled, paving the way for military rule.[3]

    The coup and military takeover also threaten the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement for Sudan, which was signed on 3 October 2020 between the Transitional Government and parties to the peace process, including armed groups that were involved in the conflicts that have affected several of Sudan’s regional States in the last three decades.

    General al-Burhan sought to justify the illegal takeover by blaming “political infighting” within civilian bodies and groups, including the Transitional Government and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), the coalition that brings together the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), civic groups, and political parties that signed the Declaration on Freedom and Change of January 2019 and led the peaceful popular revo­lution of 2018-2019 that led to the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019, and the political transition. General al-Burhan even asserted that the army had ousted the gov­ern­ment to avoid a “civil war.”[4]

    * * * * * * * * *

    Immediately after the coup was reported, and despite restrictions on communications, protesters pea­ce­fully took to the streets to denounce the military’s illegal actions and demand the reinstatement of the gov­ern­ment and a transition to civilian rule. The SPA called for strikes and civil disobedience. Pro­testers erected barricades in the streets. Soldiers opened fire on crowds and reportedly killed at least ten people and injured dozens. Arrests have been reported.[5]

    These acts demonstrate the armed and security forces’ lack of commitment to a democratic tran­sition to civilian rule and their determination to consolidate control, including by using violence. The 25 October 2021 military coup fol­lowed a reported coup attempt on 21 September 2021, which “the mili­tary blamed on a cadre of Bashir-allied Islamists but which several diplomats described […] as a trial balloon,” as tensions were growing within the SC.[6]

    Fears of a full-fledged, bloody crackdown are mounting. These fears are made credible by the illegal actions of the reconstituted TMC, the history of violence and abuse that characterises Sudan’s armed and security forces, including the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the current context, including restrictions on communications, which are remi­nis­cent of the shutdown that was imposed following the atrocities committed on 3 June 2019 (known as the “Khartoum massacre”[7]).

    While the total number of arrests made is unknown, it is likely to increase after the release of the present letter. Human rights defenders (HRDs), protest organisers, journalists, and independent voices, in par­ticular women human rights defenders (WHRDs), women journalists, and women and girls protesting the coup, are at a heightened risk of being subjected to violations and abuses. These include arbitrary arrests, the use of unwarranted and lethal force, beatings, ill-treatment and torture, and sexual and gen­der-based violence, as was the case during the Khartoum massacre.[8]

    * * * * * * * * *

    The coup has drawn condemnation. States, including partners of Sudan, condemned it as a betrayal of the transition, demanded the release of political leaders, and urged full observance for the Constitutional Document and the reinstatement of transitional institutions.[9]

    The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), of which Sudan is a Member, issued a sta­te­ment in which its Executive Secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, said he was “alarmed by the current political developments.” He “strongly condemn[ed] any attempt to undermine the transitional govern­ment” and called for the “im­mediate release” of all arrested political leaders.[10]

    The Arab League expressed “deep concern” about the military coup. The organisation’s Secretary-Ge­ne­ral urged all parties to “fully abide” by the Constitutional Declaration signed in August 2019.[11]

    The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, who learned “with deep dismay of the serious development of the current situation in Sudan,” called “for the immediate resumption of consultations between civilians and military” and reaffirmed that “dialogue and consensus is the only relevant path to save the country and its democratic transition.” He further called “for the release of all arrested political leaders and the necessary strict respect of human rights.”[12] However, despite the Lomé Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government,[13] he did not con­vey a “clear and unequivocal warning to the perpetrators of the unconstitutional change that, under no circumstances, will their illegal action be tolerated or recognized by the [AU].”

    The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) met on 26 October 2021. The following day, it released a communiqué[14] in which it “strongly condemn[ed] the seizure of power by the Sudanese military on 25 October 2021 and the dissolution of the Transitional Government, and totally reject[ed] the uncons­ti­tutional change of government, as unacceptable and an affront to the shared values and democratic norms of the AU.” It decided to “suspend, with immediate effect, the participation of the Repu­blic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective restoration of the civilian-led Transitional Authority.”

    While this is a positive step, more needs to be done to stop military rule and protect the transition, Sudan’s constitutional order, and the human rights of people in Sudan. As repression increases, AU me­diation efforts and Human Rights Council action are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

    The UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, “strongly condemn[ed] the ongoing military coup d’état in Khartoum and all actions that could jeopardize Sudan’s political transition and stability.” He called for the immediate reconstitution of the governing arrangements provided for under the Consti­tutional Document.” He referred to the “unlawful detention” of the Prime Minister, government officials and politicians as “un­ac­ceptable” and called for the immediate release of those detained arbitrarily. He added: “Any at­tempts to undermine this transition process puts at risk Sudan’s security, stability and development.”[15]

    The Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Mr. Volker Perthes, said he was “deeply concerned about reports of an ongoing coup and attempts to undermine Sudan’s political transition.” He “called on the security forces to imme­diately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest” and urged an “[immediate] return to dialogue and [engagement] in good faith to restore the constitutional order.”[16]

    For her part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, “strongly con­dem­n[ed] [the] military coup in Sudan and the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency, the sus­pen­sion of key articles of the Cons­titu­tional Document and the governing bodies.” She reminded “military and security forces to refrain from unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, to respect people’s freedom of expression, as well as the right of peaceful assembly.” She added: “It would be disastrous if Sudan goes backwards after finally bringing an end to decades of repressive dictatorship.”[17]

    On 26 October, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the crisis. It failed to adopt a resolution to unequivocally condemn the military coup, or even to release a statement.

    * * * * * * * * *

    In this context, the Human Rights Council cannot afford to stay silent or wait for its next regular session, which is due to open on 25 February 2022, to act.

    It should make clear that the TMC cannot be considered a legitimate partner; strongly condemn the mi­li­tary coup; urge full respect for the Constitutional Document and the reinstatement of transitional institutions; call for an im­mediate stop to the violence against protesters; demand a release of all poli­tical prisoners; and demand accountability for the human rights violations and abuses committed.

    The Human Rights Council should fulfil its mandate to prevent violations and respond promptly to human rights emer­gen­cies, convene a special session, and request the UN High Com­mis­sio­ner for Human Rights to set up a fact-finding mission to monitor, verify and report on the situation in Sudan with a view to preventing further human rights violations and abuses, iden­ti­fying per­petrators, and ensuring ac­coun­tability for these violations and abuses.

    The report of the fact-finding mission should be shared with the UN Security Council. The Hu­man Rights Council should further ensure that the High Commissioner publicly and regularly reports on the human rights situation in Sudan, relying on both in-house expertise and the work of the OHCHR country office in Sudan, and it should hold interactive dialogues on the human rights situation in Sudan twice a year.

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.

    Sincerely,

    1. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
    2. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    3. African Initiative for Peacebuilding, Advocacy and Advancement (AfriPeace)
    4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    5. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
    6. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    7. CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
    8. Darfur and Beyond
    9. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    10. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    11. Global Rights
    12. Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC)
    13. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    14. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
    15. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    16. Justice Center for Advocacy and Legal Consultations
    17. Kamma Organization for Development Initiatives (KODI)
    18. Kenya Human Rights Commission
    19. Kongamano La Mapinduzi
    20. Lawyers for Justice Sudan
    21. Mouvement Inamahoro
    22. Never Again Coalition
    23. PAX
    24. Physicians for Human Rights
    25. REDRESS
    26. Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS)
    27. The Sentry
    28. Skills for Nuba Mountains
    29. Sudan Archives
    30. Sudan Human Rights Hub
    31. Sudan Unlimited
    32. Victims Advocates International
    33. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

     

    [1] DefendDefenders et al., “The Human Rights Council should extend its support to, and scrutiny of, Sudan,” 10 September 2021 (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [2] For background, see DefendDefenders et al., “Sudan: ensuring a credible response by the UN Human Rights Council,” 3 September 2019, (and Annex) (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [3] Al Jazeera, “Sudan coup: Which constitutional articles have been suspended?” 26 October 2021,  (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [4] France 24, “Sudan’s Burhan says army ousted government to avoid civil war,” 26 October 2021,  (accessed on 27 October 2021).

    [5] Al Jazeera, “‘No to army rule’: Pro-democracy protesters take to Sudan streets,” 27 October 2021; BBC News, “Sudan coup: Why the army is gambling with the future,” 27 October 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-59050473 (both accessed on 27 October 2021).

    [6] International Crisis Group, “Reversing Sudan’s Dangerous Coup,” 26 October 2021. See also BBC News, “Killings of Peaceful Sudanese Democracy Protesters Demand Accountability: Urgent International Action Needed to Prevent Further Violence,” 21 September 2021, (both accessed on 27 October 2021).

    [7] See previous civil society letters on Sudan, in particular International Refugee Rights Initiative et al., “Killings of Peaceful Sudanese Democracy Protesters Demand Accountability: Urgent International Action Needed to Prevent Further Violence,” 6 June 2019, ; DefendDefenders et al., “Sudan: ensuring a credible response by the UN Human Rights Council,” 3 September 2019, (and Annex); DefendDefenders et al., “The Human Rights Council should support human rights reforms in Sudan,” 9 September 2020,  (all accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [8] Human Rights Watch, “‘They Were Shouting ‘Kill Them’: Sudan’s Violent Crackdown on Protesters in Khartoum,” 17 November 2019, (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [9] For a comprehensive list of responses by Governments and intergovernmental organizations to the military coup, see Sudan Unlimited, “World Unites with the People of Sudan and Against #SudanCoup,” (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [10]IGAD Statement On The Current Political Development In Sudan,” 25 October 2021,  (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [11] Asharq al-Awsat, “Arab League Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ over Sudan,” 25 October 2021,  (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [12]Statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the situation in Sudan,” 25 October 2021,  (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [13] AU PSC, “Declaration on the Framework for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes of Government” (AHG/Decl.5 (XXXVI)), 10-12 July 2000, (accessed on 25 October 2021).

    [14]Communiqué of the 1041st meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union held on 26 October 2021 on the Situation in Sudan,” 27 October 2021, (accessed on 27 October 2021).

    [15]Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General - on Sudan,” 25 October 2021, (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [16]SRSG Statement about Reports of an Ongoing Coup and Attempts to Undermine Sudan’s Political Transition,” 25 October 2021,  (accessed on 26 October 2021).

    [17]Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the coup d’état in Sudan,” 25 October 2021, (accessed on 26 October 2021).


     Civic space in Sudan is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Sudan: Urgently convene a special session and establish an investigative mechanism

    TO PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVES OF MEMBER AND OBSERVER STATES OF THE UNITED NATIONS (UN) HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL (GENEVA, SWITZERLAND)

    Excellencies, In light of the unfolding human rights crisis in Sudan, and notwithstanding efforts to stop the fighting by the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and other regional and international actors, we, the undersigned non-governmental organisations, are writing to urge your delegation to address the human rights dimensions of the crisis by supporting the convening of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council.

    In line with the Council’s mandate to prevent violations and to respond promptly to human rights emergencies, States have a responsibility to act by convening a special session and establishing an investigative and accountability mechanism addressing all alleged human rights violations and abuses in Sudan.

    We urge your delegation to support the adoption of a resolution that requests the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently organize an independent mechanism to investigate human rights violations and advance accountability in Sudan, whose work would complement the work of the designated Expert on Sudan.

    * * *

    On 15 April 2023, explosions and gunfire were heard as violence erupted in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) led by Sudan’s current head of state as Chairperson of the Sovereign Council (SC), General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, and a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as “Hemedti”).

    As of 25 April 2023, at midnight, a 72-hour ceasefire has been announced. The death toll, however, is estimated at over 400 civilians, with thousands injured. Actual figures are likely to be much higher as most of Khartoum’s hospitals have been forced to close and civilians injured during the crossfire cannot be rescued. Millions of residents are trapped in their homes, running out of water, food and medical supplies as electricity is cut and violence is raging in the streets of Khartoum. Banks have been closed and mobile money services severely restricted, which limits access to cash, including salary and remittances. Diplomats and humanitarians have been attacked. The fighting has spread to other cities and regions, including Darfur, threatening to escalate into full-blown conflict.

    In a Communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council noted “with grave concern and alarm the deadly clashes […], which have reached a dangerous level and could escalate into a full-blown conflict,” “strongly condemned the ongoing armed confrontation” and called for “an immediate ceasefire by the two parties without conditions, in the supreme interest of Sudan and its people in order to avoid further bloodshed and harm to […] civilians.”

    * * *

    In light of these developments, we urge your delegation to support the adoption, during a special session on the unfolding human rights crisis in Sudan, of a resolution that, among other actions:

        • Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently organize on the most expeditious basis possible an independent investigative mechanism, comprising three existing international and regional human rights experts, for a period of one year, renewable as necessary, and complementing, consolidating and building upon the work of the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan and the country office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the following mandate:
          • To undertake a thorough investigation into alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and related crimes committed by all parties in Sudan since 25 October 2021, including on their possible gender dimensions, their extent, and whether they may constitute international crimes, with a view to preventing a further deterioration of the human rights situation;
          • To establish the facts, circumstances and root causes of any such violations and abuses, to collect, consolidate, analyze and preserve documentation and evidence, and to identify, where possible, those individuals and entities responsible;
          • To make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts, and to formulate recommendations on steps to be taken to guarantee that the authors of these violations and abuses are held accountable for their acts and to end the cycle of impunity in Sudan;
          • To provide guidance on justice, including criminal accountability, reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence;
          • To integrate a gender perspective and a survivor-centred approach throughout its work;
          • To engage with Sudanese parties and all other stakeholders, in particular United Nations agencies, civil society, refugees, the designated Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan, the field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in Sudan, African Union bodies and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, in order to provide the support and expertise for the immediate improvement of the situation of human rights and the fight against impunity; and
          • To ensure the complementarity and coordination of this effort with other efforts of the United Nations, the African Union and other appropriate regional and international entities, drawing on the expertise of, inter alia, the African Union and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the extent practicable;
        • Decides to enhance the interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, called for by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 50/1, at its 53rd session so as to include the participation of other stakeholders, in particular representatives of the African Union, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and civil society;
        • Requests the independent investigative mechanism to present an oral briefing to the Human Rights Council at its 54th and 55th sessions, and a comprehensive written report at its 56th session, and to present its report to the General Assembly and other relevant international bodies; and
        • Requests the Secretary-General to provide all the resources and expertise necessary to enable the Office of the High Commissioner to provide such administrative, technical and logistical support as is required to implement the provisions of the present resolution, in particular in the areas of fact-finding, legal analysis and evidence-collection, including regarding sexual and gender-based violence and specialized ballistic and forensic expertise.

    We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.

    Sincerely,

    First signatories (as of 26 April 2023):

    1. Act for Sudan
    2. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture in the Central African Republic (ACAT-RCA)
    3. African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    4. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
    5. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    6. Algerian Human Rights Network (Réseau Algérien des Droits de l’Homme)
    7. Amnesty International
    8. Angolan Human Rights Defenders Coalition
    9. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    10. Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA)
    11. Beam Reports – Sudan
    12. Belarusian Helsinki Committee
    13. Burkinabè Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CBDDH)
    14. Burundian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (CBDDH)
    15. Cabo Verdean Network of Human Rights Defenders (RECADDH)
    16. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
    17. Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement (CAWOPEM)
    18. Central African Network of Human Rights Defenders (REDHAC)
    19. Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) – Mozambique
    20. Centre de Formation et de Documentation sur les Droits de l’Homme (CDFDH) – Togo
    21. CIVICUS
    22. Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Benin (CDDH-Bénin)
    23. Collectif Urgence Darfour
    24. CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide)
    25. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    26. EEPA – Europe External Programme with Africa
    27. Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center (EHRDC)
    28. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
    29. Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile (FORSC) – Burundi
    30. Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED) – Ghana
    31. Gisa Group – Sudan
    32. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    33. Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum (HoA Forum)
    34. Human Rights Defenders Coalition Malawi
    35. Human Rights Defenders Network – Sierra Leone
    36. Human Rights House Foundation
    37. Institut des Médias pour la Démocratie et les Droits de l’Homme (IM2DH) – Togo
    38. International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    39. International Commission of Jurists
    40. International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)
    41. International Service for Human Rights
    42. Ivorian Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CIDDH)
    43. Jews Against Genocide
    44. Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) – Sudan
    45. Justice Africa Sudan
    46. Justice Center for Advocacy and Legal Consultations – Sudan
    47. Libyan Human Rights Clinic (LHRC)
    48. Malian Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COMADDH)
    49. MENA Rights Group
    50. Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network (MozambiqueDefenders – RMDDH)
    51. NANHRI – Network of African National Human Rights Institutions
    52. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya
    53. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Somalia
    54. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Uganda (NCHRD-U)
    55. Network of Human Rights Journalists (NHRJ) – The Gambia
    56. Network of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in North Africa (CIDH Africa)
    57. Never Again Coalition
    58. Nigerien Human Rights Defenders Network (RNDDH)
    59. Pathways for Women’s Empowerment and Development (PaWED) – Cameroon
    60. PAX Netherlands
    61. PEN Belarus
    62. Physicians for Human Rights
    63. POS Foundation – Ghana
    64. Project Expedite Justice
    65. Protection International Africa
    66. REDRESS
    67. Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society (RCDCS) – Sudan
    68. Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP) – Burundi
    69. Rights Georgia
    70. Rights for Peace
    71. Rights Realization Centre (RRC) – United Kingdom
    72. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
    73. Society for Threatened Peoples
    74. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (Southern Defenders)
    75. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
    76. Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA)
    77. Sudanese American Public Affairs Association (SAPAA)
    78. Sudanese Women Rights Action
    79. Sudan Human Rights Hub
    80. Sudan NextGen Organization (SNG)
    81. Sudan Social Development Organisation
    82. Sudan Unlimited
    83. SUDO UK
    84. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
    85. The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA)
    86. Togolese Human Rights Defenders Coalition (CTDDH)
    87. Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH)
    88. Waging Peace
    89. World Council of Churches
    90. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    91. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

    ANNEX: KEY HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN SUDAN, PRE-15 APRIL 2023

    Sudan’s human rights situation has been of utmost concern for decades. In successive letters to Permanent Missions to the UN Human Rights Council, Sudanese and international civil society groups highlighted outstanding human rights concerns dating back to the pre-2019 era, including near-complete impunity for grave human rights violations and abuses, some of which amounting to crimes under international law.

    Civil society organisations also attempted to draw attention to post-2019 human rights issues, including the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters during and after the 2018-2019 popular protests and after the military coup of 25 October 2021. They repeatedly called for ongoing multilateral action, stressing that as the UN’s top human rights body, the Council had a responsibility to ensure scrutiny of Sudan’s human rights situation and to support the Sudanese people’s demands for freedom, justice, and peace.

    During a special session held on 5 November 2021, the Council adopted a resolution requesting the High Commissioner to designate an Expert on Human Rights in the Sudan. As per resolution S-32/1, which was adopted by consensus, the Expert’s mandate will be ongoing “until the restoration of [Sudan’s] civilian-led Government.” As per Council resolution 50/1, also adopted by consensus, in July 2022, the Council requested the presentation of written reports and the holding of additional debates on Sudan’s human rights situation.

    The violence that erupted on 15 April 2023, which resulted from persisting disagreements regarding security and military reforms and unaddressed issues of accountability of security forces and lack of security sector reform, came against a backdrop of severe restrictions on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Observers’ and civil society actors’ fears of a deterioration of the situation, immediately prior to 15 April 2023, including in the form of an intensified crackdown on peaceful protesters in Khartoum and violence in the capital and in the conflict areas of Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, as well as in Eastern Sudan, were well founded. These fears were made credible by the history of violence and abuse that characterises Sudan’s armed and security forces, including the SAF, the RSF, and the General Intelligence Service (GIS) (the new name of the infamous National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)).

    Since the 25 October 2021 coup, de facto authorities systematically used excessive and sometimes lethal force, as well as arbitrary detention to crack down on public assemblies. The situation was particularly dire for women and girls, who face discriminatory laws, policies, and practices, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and the threat of rape in relation to protests and conflict-related sexual violence in Sudan’s conflict areas.

    National investigative bodies, such as the committee set up to investigate the 3 June 2019 massacre in Khartoum, had failed to publish any findings or identify any perpetrators.

    The situation in Darfur, 20 years after armed conflict broke out between the Sudanese government and rebel groups, remained particularly concerning. Intercommunal and localised violence in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile had escalated since October 2021, resulting in civilian casualties, destruction of property and human rights violations. Emergency laws and regulations remained in place, stifling the work of independent actors. In Blue Nile State, fighting had increased in scope and expanded to new areas.

    Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments that were common in the Al-Bashir regime were still being handed out by the courts of laws. Throughout the country, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) continued to unduly restrict the operations of civil society organisations, including through burdensome registration and re-registration requirements, restrictions to movement, and surveillance.

    These added to long-standing, unaddressed human rights issues UN actors, experts, and independent human rights organisations identified during the three decades of the Al-Bashir regime. Among these issues, impunity for grave human rights violations and abuses remains near-complete.

    As of early April 2023, the country was in a phase of political dialogue. On 5 December 2022, the Sudanese military and civilian representatives, including the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), which played a key role in the 2018-2019 revolution, signed a preliminary agreement, known as the Political Framework Agreement. The agreement was supposed to be a first step in paving the way for a comprehensive agreement on the transition, which was supposed to be led by civilians and lead to the holding of elections at the end of a two-year period. The agreement, however, excluded key issues such as justice and accountability. Strong disagreements persisted regarding key security and military reforms. Influential actors, including major political parties and the resistance committees, rejected the deal altogether.

    The political stalemate and mounting tensions also threatened the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, signed on 3 October 2020 between the then Transitional Government and parties to the peace process, including armed groups that were involved in the conflicts that have affected several of Sudan’s regional States in the last three decades.