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UN calls on Sudan to probe killing of protesters

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Secretary-General António Guterres delivers remarks on International Labour Day on 1 May 2018 (UN Photo)
December 29, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Friday called on the Sudanese government to investigate the deaths during the ongoing protests across the country.

Since 19 December, many cities across Sudan have been protesting against difficult economic conditions in the country, calling to overthrow the regime of President al-Bashir. Also, demonstrators in some towns have burned the premises of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Al-Bashir accused unnamed groups of exploiting the living hardship to carry out sabotage and vandalism and described them as “agents, mercenaries and traitors”.

In a statement released on Friday, the UN spokesperson said Guterres has appealed for "calm and restraint", and called on the Sudanese authorities to conduct "a thorough investigation into the deaths and violence".

The spokesperson added that Guterres is monitoring "with concern" developments in Sudan including the reported violence and fatalities. He "emphasizes the need to safeguard freedom of expression and peaceful assembly".

The demonstrations were met with excessive violence from the police and security forces leading to the death of 37 people and injuring hundreds according to Amnesty International.

The Sudanese government admitted that 19 people have been killed during the protests, saying 406 people were injured including 187 police officers.

Also, in a separate statements UN human rights said concerned by the excessive use of force against Sudanese protesters recalling it constitutes an infringement on the right of peaceful assembly.

"The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an inherent element of democracies," said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule.

"The Government should respond to legitimate grievances of the Sudanese people," Voule further said.

UN EXPERTS CONDEMN

For his part, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, condemned the use of "lethal force" against peaceful demonstrations.

"I strongly urge the Sudanese security forces to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and take immediate measures to protect the right to life of the demonstrators," Nononsi said.

Also, he said alarmed by of arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters

"We call on the Sudanese authorities to release those detainees. We also urge the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations and to ensure that security forces handle protests in line with the country’s international human rights obligations," he stressed.

Last October, Amnesty International recalled that the Sudanese authorities are yet to bring to justice a single person for the killing of at least 185 people who were shot by the Sudanese security agents during the September 2013 protests.

Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of Sudan’s revenue and 90% of its exports.

The east African nation is facing an acute foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation, despite the United States lifting of economic sanctions in October 2017.

Inflation is running at 70% according to government figures. The Sudanese pound has lost 100% of its value, while shortages of bread and fuel have regularly hit several cities.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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