The Sudanese people have been protesting since December 2018 when they took to the streets to express their anger over rising costs of living and the decline of political freedom. Their pressure worked and on 11 April, Sudan’s military overthrew the National Congress Party (NCP) government, arresting President Omar al-Bashir and other senior party leaders.
But while al-Bashir’s 30-year rule has come to an end, the human rights situation in Sudan, which has deteriorated dramatically since the beginning of the protests, continues to worsen. Many of the protestors calling for peace, justice, rule of law and economic reforms have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty.
The Sudanese security forces brutally suppressed the protests by unlawfully killing protestors, mercilessly beating them in the streets, and unlawfully detaining and subjecting them to torture and other ill-treatment. Security forces stormed hospitals firing live ammunition and tear gas at patients and medical staff attempting to arrest injured protestors, in an outrageous violation of international law.
Al-Bashir’s ousting offers an unprecedented opportunity to entrench human rights in Sudan’s transition.
So far, Sudan’s authorities have terminated the state of emergency announced on 22 February, released protestors from jail, and promised to try security officers who killed protestors. But much more must be done to facilitate a peaceful transition, accountability and a future Sudan that protects, respects and fulfils human rights.
Amnesty International calls for these human rights priorities during Sudan’s transition:
1. Respect for human rights
The Sudanese peoples’ rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are critical for the transition, must be protected, respected and fulfilled.
2. End repression of dissent and peaceful protests
Allow protests, including the on-going sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum. End the use of lethal and excessive force against protestors. Even after Al-Bashir’s ousting, security forces continue to use lethal force against protestors. On 21 April, security forces injured protesters in Kutum city, North Darfur, while on 4 May they killed one person during a protest on 4 May in Nyala, South Darfur.
3. Release prisoners of conscience
Immediately and unconditionally release all people arrested for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association since the protests began in mid-December 2018, including the Darfuri students arrested in December 2018.
4. Surrender former President al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Urgently declare the whereabouts of former President Omar al-Bashir and immediately surrender him to the ICC to ensure justice can be served for the atrocities committed during his three decades in power. Al-Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide allegedly committed in Darfur.
5. End endemic impunity
Suspend army officers, police and intelligence officials suspected of involvement in crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations, pending investigations and ensuring the suspects are prosecuted where there is sufficient admissible evidence.
Prosecute in fair trials, not imposing the death penalty, all security officers, politicians and others suspected of serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
6. Reveal details of National Congress Party (NCP) members in detention
Disclose the whereabouts of all arrested and detained NCP members, and charge them with a recognizable criminal offence in line with Sudan’s obligations under international law, without recourse to the death penalty, or release them. Respect the rights of these detainees, ensuring they have access to lawyers of their choice, family visits and medical treatment. They must not be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention.
7. Reform the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)
- Immediately undertake a comprehensive reform of the NISS to ensure it complies with the country’s international human rights obligations.
- Remove immunities provided in the 2010 National Security Act that provides NISS agents with power of arrest and detention.
8. Ensureimpartial investigations into killings and torture
Investigations into all allegations made since December 2018 of unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment and death in detention must be fair, effective, comprehensive and transparent. Steps must be taken to bring suspected perpetrators to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
9. Set a timeline for legal reform of the national security law and other laws
Amnesty International believes that this process must be comprehensive and include a review and amendment to the Public Order, Criminal, Criminal Procedures, Personal Status, and Press and Publication laws.
10. Establish an official moratorium on executions
- Abolish the death penalty.
- Remove articles that impose corporal punishment.