Sudan: sexual violence as a weapon of massive repression in Khartoum (UN)


“We have received deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence and harassment by security forces during the protests that took place in Khartoum on Sunday December 19, 2021,” said at a press briefing in Geneva, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The services of the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet received “allegations that 13 women and girls were victims of rape or gang rape”.

“Our Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan also received allegations of sexual harassment by security forces against women trying to flee the area around the presidential palace on the evening of December 19, 2021,” added Throssell, pleading for “a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into these allegations of rape and sexual harassment”.

Two dead and 300 injured during protests on Sunday

For the UN, the perpetrators of these acts must be identified and prosecuted. “With more protests planned for this weekend and in the weeks to come, it is essential that the security forces guarantee and protect the right to peaceful assembly and act in full compliance with international laws and standards governing the use of force ”, insisted the spokesperson of the OHCHR.

In addition, two demonstrators died after being shot. About 300 others were injured, some from the use of live ammunition while others were hit by tear gas canisters or beaten by security forces. According to the UN, other protesters suffered from breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas.

The UN therefore wants an independent investigation into the allegations of deaths and injuries of protesters resulting from unnecessary or disproportionate use of force, in particular the use of live ammunition.

Ms. Bachelet’s services also took note of the creation by the Acting Attorney General of a high-ranking committee of prosecutors responsible for investigating all the abuses and other incidents that have occurred since the military coup of October 25, 2021. .

“We have asked the national authorities to make public the findings of this committee of inquiry, in the greatest transparency, so that those responsible are accountable, including through criminal investigations,” said Throssell.

At least 250 dead in tribal clashes in Darfur and South Kordofan

The December 19 protests, in which tens of thousands of people participated, were organized to mark the third anniversary of the protests that began in December 2018 and ultimately resulted in the overthrow of President Bashir’s government in April 2019. Demonstrators were protesting also against the military coup of October 25 and the political agreement signed on November 21, 2021.

On another level, the High Commissioner is deeply concerned about the increase in intercommunal violence in Darfur and South Kordofan. These two provinces have been torn apart since October by clashes between tribes which have left “at least 250 dead, 197 injured and more than 50,000 displaced”.

“There have been serious protection gaps in Darfur, especially following the reduction of state security forces in key areas of Darfur and long delays in the implementation of a national plan protection of civilians, ”detailed the OHCHR spokesperson.

As national authorities have assembled a temporary joint protection force of 3,000 for deployment later this month, the UN wants Khartoum to ensure that force receives comprehensive human rights and legal training. international humanitarian aid before its deployment in the field.

“It is also essential that those responsible for human rights violations and abuses are held to account, regardless of their affiliation,” Ms. Throssell concluded.

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