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UNHRC urges Sudan to conduct independent investigation into deadly protests of 2013 and 2014

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September 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a draft resolution in Geneva on Friday calling on the Sudanese government to conduct an independent public enquiry into the killing of protestors in September 2013 and March 2014.

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UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

It also agreed to renew mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan for a further 12 months under agenda item 10.

Demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese states in September 2013 following the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies. Rights groups said that at least 200 people were killed but the government put the death toll at 85.

The UNHRC, in a draft resolution presented by Ethiopia on behalf of the group of African states on Friday, expressed grave concern at the use of excessive force, including the lethal shooting of demonstrators, calling on the Sudanese government to launch an investigation and refer its findings to the judiciary to ensure justice and accountability for the incidents that occurred.

CONCERN OVER MEDIA RESTRICTIONS

It also expressed concern “at reports of restrictions on the media, pre- and post-publication censorship, seizure of newspapers, the banning of some journalists and violations of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association and of peaceful assembly”.

The UN body urged the Sudanese government to further its efforts for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular to ensure freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and to respect the human rights of all individuals, including human rights defenders and members of civil society organisations.

It condemned “the violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law reported in the states of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and by all parties, including sexual and gender-based violence, the indiscriminate bombings of humanitarian facilities, such as the reported aerial bombing of a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, and the targeting of civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and urges all parties to resort to peace”.

CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

The UNHRC further demanded that the Sudanese government investigate claims of human rights abuses in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), urging all parties allow access for vaccinations to conflict-affected areas and to facilitate humanitarian access to needy populations.

It also urged the Sudanese government to intensify its efforts to address humanitarian needs in conflict-affected areas.

The new independent expert on human rights in Sudan will be tasked with continuing to engage with the Sudanese government to assess, verify and report on the human rights situation in the country.

On Thursday, the chair of the UNHRC in Geneva announced the appointment of Irish-born Thomas Edward as the new independent expert on human rights in Sudan to succeed Mashood Badrain.

The draft resolution urged the Sudanese government to continue its full cooperation with the independent expert and allow him “effective” access to all parts of the country and concerned bodies, demanding the office of the high commissioner provide the necessary financial and human resources to enable Edward to carry out his mandate.

PRAISE FOR DIALOGUE PROCESS

The UNHRC also encouraged the national dialogue initiative launched by the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in January, praising the progress made so far with the support of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) headed by Thabo Mbeki.

It urged the Sudanese government to fulfill its pledges with regard to the release of political prisoners, encouraging all Sudanese stakeholders to ensure the creation of a conducive environment for inclusive, transparent and credible dialogue.

The draft resolution welcomed government efforts to combat human trafficking including enactment of national legislations such as Sudan’s recently approved human trafficking act, demanding cooperation with regional and international stakeholders in this regard.

It also urged Sudan to promote and protect freedom of religion and belief and comply with its constitutional obligations and also its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in this respect.

(ST)

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