UN rights office urges Sudan to investigate violence against Darfur protesters

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Aug. 3 urged Sudan to initiate an investigation into allegations of excessive force by government security forces against protesters in Darfur four days earlier resulting in eight deaths and more than 50 injuries. The OHCHR urged the government to “promptly launch an independent and credible investigation into the violence and the apparent excessive use of force by security forces” and noted that international standards must be respected in order to provide civilians the freedom of speech and assembly. During the July 31 protest more than 1,000 people, mostly students, blocked roads in market area of Nyala, the biggest town in Darfur, to express their opposition against fuel price increases. The OHCHR stated that it received eye witness reports that security forces used tear gas as well as live bullets against protesters.

Last week a Sudanese court charged two men, including one US resident, with terrorism in connection with anti-government protests in June. In early July Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch jointly urged the Sudanese government to cease its practice of arbitrarily arresting, detaining and abusing protesters in the country. The rights groups estimated that the country detained more than 2,000 protesters in June alone. In June the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos expressed concern about deteriorating conditions in Sudan due to continued violent conflict resulting in an increase of Sudanese refugees fleeing into neighboring countries. That same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement urging authorities in Sudan to take measures to prevent violence against protesters in upcoming demonstrations. Amnesty International also urged Sudanese authorities to cease violence against protesters and journalists following reports that the country’s police in Khartoum used tear gas and batons against civilians who protested over austerity cuts.

From Jurist, Aug. 3. Used with permission.