Sudan: The army must respect legitimate demands for democracy and accountability

Press release
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Paris, Kampala, 12 April 2019 – FIDH and ACJPS consider that Omar Al-Bashir’s removal from power, ending his 30-year dictatorial regime, should pave the way to establish democracy and the rule of law in Sudan. Our organizations are deeply concerned by the statements made by the Vice President and Minister of Defence, Awad Ibn Ouf, announcing the suspension of the Constitution and the imposition of a curfew and state of emergency. Ibn Ouf also announced the creation of a military council mandated to oversee a two-year transitional period. These measures seriously risk causing the deterioration of the political and security climate in Sudan.

“The long-awaited end of the Al-Bashir era is the result of the uninterrupted mobilization of thousands of Sudanese who bravely took to the streets in demand of democracy and accountability, despite facing fierce repression. Today, the military must respect these legitimate demands and put an end to the abuses committed under Bashir’s regime.”

Mossaad Mohammed Ali, ACJPS Executive Director

Concerns have been raised over the composition of the transitional military council and the designation of Awad Ibn Ouf as its leader, considering his alleged responsibility for the serious crimes committed in Darfur. Ibn Ouf is also subjected to US sanctions since 2007 for providing logistical support to and directing attacks of the government-supported Janjaweed militias against civilians in Darfur. Protesters, including members of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading the demonstrations since they started, have rejected the announcements made by Ibn Ouf. The SPA called on protesters to continue demonstrating, until a civilian transitional government is established. At the time of writing, protests were ongoing. The imposition of a state of emergency and a curfew seem to be aimed at weakening the protests.

“Given the fragility of the current context, it is crucial that the international community, primarily the African Union and the United Nations, stand by the Sudanese people to ensure that their demands for freedom, peace and justice are fully met.”

Sheila Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President

Al-Bashir is now reportedly under arrest. His regime was marred with perpetration of widespread human rights violations – amounting to international crimes – throughout the country, including in the conflict areas of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, were thousands of civilians were primary targets of killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced displacements, destruction of villages, pillaging and indiscriminate aerial bombardments. In other areas, civilians were the targets of serious restrictions to fundamental rights and freedoms. Human rights defenders, journalists, and political opponents faced recurring arbitrary arrests, detentions, acts of torture, judicial harassment. Most of the crimes, documented by our organizations, were committed by members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have enjoyed complete impunity.

The crimes committed in Darfur prompted the international community to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) through the United Nations Security Council. The ICC issued arrest warrants against high ranking Sudanese officials, including two against Omar Al-Bashir (in 2009 and 2010) for his alleged responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in the Darfur conflict. Over the past ten years, Al-Bashir has defied the warrants against him and traveled including to States Parties to the ICC who failed to arrest and surrender him to the Court. A ruling on States’ obligations to arrest Al-Bashir is expected on 6 May by the Court’s Appeals Chamber. There are other pending ICC arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity against Ahmed Mohammed Haroun and Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein, who have also been reportedly arrested since yesterday.

“Sudanese authorities must abide by the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court. Impunity has enabled and emboldened perpetrators of the crimes committed over the past three decades against thousands of people in Sudan.”
“The international community and national authorities must not negotiate any agreement facilitating continued impunity but should ensure that Omar Al-Bashir, and others, are finally brought to justice and answer for their crimes in accordance with their obligation under international law.”

Arnold Tsunga, FIDH Vice President

Protests broke out across Sudan on 19 December 2018. While initially focused on denouncing increases in prices of basic commodities, protests quickly developed into calling for the resignation of Omar Al-Bashir, leading to a violent response from security agencies, who did not hesitate to use teargas and live ammunition to disperse protesters. At least 99 people were killed, including at least 31 since April 6, while at least 816 others were arrested, some of whom were allegedly subjected to torture. Three human rights defenders released yesterday confirmed to our organisations that they were tortured while in detention. While recent information indicate that some detainees may have been released since yesterday, there is no consistent information on their exact number.

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