UN rights body to send human rights expert to Sudan in wake of coup


The Human Rights Council on Friday adopted a resolution condemning in the strongest possible terms the military takeover in Sudan almost two weeks ago and called on the junta to “step back” to let civilian rule return.

The resolution, adopted without a vote as orally revised, requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to designate without delay an expert on Human Rights in Sudan to monitor the developing human rights situation until the restoration of its civilian-led government.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet decried excessive use of force by security forces that has left at least 13 people dead and more than 300 injured since the coup. She also expressed concern about “numerous” arrests and disappearances of civil society and protest leaders, journalists, and activists.

Bachelet spoke during an urgent Human Rights Council session on Sudan. Britain, the United States, Germany and Norway led a push to commission an expert to monitor the situation in the African country.

The Human Rights Council debate took place while the UN still recognizes the ambassador from the deposed Sudanese government as the country’s official representative in Geneva. No representative from among Sudan’s top generals seemed to be attending the session.

“Events since the coup have recalled a somber page in the country’s history when freedom of expression was stifled and human rights were comprehensively repressed,” said Bachelet, in reference to the 30-year rule of Sudan by former autocrat Omar Al-Bashir.

“I urge Sudan’s military leaders, and their backers, to step back in order to allow the country to return to the path of progress toward institutional and legal reforms,” she added.

The Oct. 25 coup came more than two years after a popular uprising forced the military’s removal of Al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019. It has upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule. Tens of thousands have taken to the street to protest since the takeover.

Massive anti-coup protests were in several instances met with excessive use of force, including use of live ammunition, as documented by the Joint UN Human Rights Office in Sudan, particularly in the capital, Khartoum, and the city of Omdurman.

According to medical sources, at least 13 civilians have been killed by military and security forces since Oct. 25, and more than 300 have been injured.

Sudan’s top general, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the forces loyal to him who dissolved Sudan’s transitional government and detained other government officials and political leaders, face increasing international pressure. Western nations have condemned the coup.

Many countries spoke out against the coup. But Russia and China, which often voice concerns about alleged international meddling in countries’ domestic affairs, took a different position. Chinese diplomat Li Song called for “constructive dialogue and cooperation” and cautioned that “external pressure will only complicate the situation.”

Inside Sudan, reports continue to emerge of new arrests of opposition figures.

The UN mission tasked with assisting Sudan’s transition to democracy on Friday condemned the arrest of three leaders from the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition that was born out of the 2019 protest movement.

In a statement, the mission said Taha Osman Isahaq, Sharif Mohamed Osman and Hamza Farouk were arrested near the mission’s headquarters in Khartoum on Thursday.

It said the new detentions were a step backward after reports that some officials held earlier would be released.

Sudan’s state-run news agency reported Thursday that Burhan had ordered the release of four government ministers who also were detained. A defense lawyer for the ministers said they had not yet been freed. (Source: Arab News)