Sudan 2022Security forces continued to use excessive force against protesters, killing dozens and injuring thousands of others. Protesters, including women and children, were unlawfully detained and ill-treated; and some were forcibly disappeared. Hundreds of civilians were killed and injured by militia groups in the West Darfur region. Ali Mohammed Ali went on trial at the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out in West Darfur. Freedom of expression was severely restricted, and the internet was shut down ahead of mass protests. Women protesters faced sexual assault and harassment. Large numbers of people faced acute hunger due to food insecurity. Refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan continued to arrive and faced ration cuts due to funding shortfalls.
BackgroundPrime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was reinstated in November 2021 following the October 2021 military coup, resigned in January, leaving the military in full control of government. Protests against the military takeover continued throughout the year. The state of emergency imposed by the military in October 2021 was lifted in May 2022, following which 171 detainees were released nationwide. However, measures adopted under it, such as those expanding the law enforcement powers of the Sudan Joint Security Forces, remained in place. Domestic and international attempts to facilitate a political solution and enable a credible civilian-led democratic transition were ongoing since the military coup. On 5 December, a coalition of civilian and military leaders signed an agreement to create a new two-year civilian transitional authority led by a prime minister who would be selected by civilian leaders. The armed conflict continued in the Darfur and Blue Nile regions.
Excessive use of forceSudanese security forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters. According to the UN, by August, 117 people, including 20 children and one woman had been killed during demonstrations since 25 October 2021. An estimated 7,700 protesters including thousands of children were seriously injured. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) said there were 21 deaths and 1,850 injuries between 6 May and 20 August 2022 alone. Promises made by the authorities to investigate such crimes remained unfulfilled. On 5 May, the CCSD reported that 23-year-old Mujtaba Abdel Salam Osman was killed when a vehicle belonging to security agents ran over protesters. According to the Sudan Human Rights Monitor, 73 injuries were reported that day, including 30 from tear gas inhalation and 11 who had been run over by a police vehicle. On 30 June, large demonstrations took place nationwide, to protest against the 2021 military takeover. The protests were organized to coincide with the anniversary of the 1989 military coup, which overthrew the democratically elected government and put the now deposed president, Omar al-Bashir, in power. The protests also marked the first “million-person” march since the killing of over 100 protesters by security forces who violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration on 3 June 2019. On 30 June, security forces again used excessive force to disperse the demonstrators, resulting in the deaths of nine protesters, eight of whom were allegedly killed by live ammunition fired by security forces, and injuries to more than 600 others. Several sit-ins were organized in the capital, Khartoum, in the aftermath of the violence to denounce the use of excessive force by the security forces.
Arbitrary arrests and detentionAs part of its broader clampdown on opposition to the 2021 military coup, Sudan’s security forces unlawfully detained hundreds of protesters and forcibly disappeared many others who were still missing at the end of the year. Between October 2021 and April 2022, the UN Designated Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan and the UN Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan documented the arbitrary arrest and detention of 1,293 people in connection with the coup or with protests against the coup. They included 143 women and 157 children, including two girls. Many others were held for short periods and released without charge. The arrests were carried out by security forces including anti-riot police, Central Reserve Police and military units from the Sudan Armed Forces, along with unidentified plain-clothes agents. Their ill-treatment of protesters included stripping child detainees naked and threatening sexual violence against women.
Unlawful attacks and killingsSudanese security forces failed to protect civilians against continued indiscriminate armed attacks. According to the UN, hundreds of civilians were killed and injured in the West Darfur region by militia groups. In October, at least 220 people were killed in two days of intercommunal fighting in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile province. According to the UN, intercommunal clashes in Blue Nile erupted several times from July onwards and caused at least 359 deaths and 469 injuries among those participating in the fighting as well as civilians. The clashes also displaced more than 97,000 civilians. The provincial government declared a 30-day state of emergency and banned gatherings.
Right to truth, justice and reparationIn April, the ICC started the trial of Ali Mohammed Ali, also known as Ali Kosheib, who is believed to have been the principal leader of the Janjaweed militia in West Darfur. Ali Mohammed Ali faces 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2003 and 2004 in West Darfur. In August, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan visited Sudan including camps for internally displaced people in Darfur. He called on the UN Security Council to ensure that his visit and the trial of Ali Mohammed Ali would be the “beginning of true accountability and not a false dawn”. Three other people, including Omar al-Bashir faced ICC charges, but the Sudanese authorities have yet to hand them over to the ICC for trial.
Freedom of expressionThe right to freedom of expression and media freedom were severely restricted. Journalists and other media workers were assaulted, threatened and harassed. On 13 January, security forces raided Alaraby television station in Khartoum. They assaulted and arrested four staff members who were filming a demonstration from the station’s roof top and destroyed their cameras. On 19 January, in Southern Kordofan, police arrested a woman in connection with a social media post about child recruitment to the Sudan Armed Forces. She was released after being charged with multiple offences under the Cybercrimes Act, including publishing false information, attacking the integrity of the Sudan Armed Forces, and undermining and threatening national security. Several groups monitoring internet access across the world, including NetBlocks, confirmed internet disruption on multiple service providers across Sudan ahead of the mass protests scheduled for 30 June (see above, Excessive use of force). Normal internet service was restored after 20 hours.
Sexual and gender-based violenceWomen protesters continued to face sexual assault. Gender-based violence including conflict-related sexual violence against women and girls continued in West Darfur. According to the UN Designated Expert, members of the Sudan Joint Security Forces and other armed men in civilian clothes committed numerous human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls who have been at the forefront of protests against the coup. The UN Designated Expert verified 13 incidents of rape, gang rape, attempted rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence that had been perpetrated in Khartoum in the context of protests against the coup between October 2021 and April 2022. They involved 14 victims (10 women, one girl, one man and two boys). In Darfur, the UN Designated Expert reported eight incidents of rape involving 15 women and five girls in the context of intercommunal violence or attacks against internally displaced women and girls. The perpetrators were armed men, most of them in military uniforms. All eight cases were reported to the police but only one arrest was made, for the rape of a 12-year-old-girl in North Darfur.
Right to foodAccording to the UN, Sudan faced a steady increase in food insecurity levels. Almost one quarter of the population was estimated to have faced acute hunger between June and September. The North, West and Central Darfur, Khartoum, Kassala and White Nile regions accounted for the highest number of people affected by acute hunger. Up to 11.7 million people were facing acute food insecurity. Of those, 3.1 million were classified as being in an “emergency” situation. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the armed conflict in Ukraine further exacerbated food insecurity because of Sudan’s reliance on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine over recent years.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rightsSudan continued to receive new refugees from neighbouring countries, mainly South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. During the year, 20,000 refugees from South Sudan arrived, mainly in White Nile state, East Darfur, West Kordofan and South Kordofan. Ethiopian refugees also continued to arrive in eastern Sudan and the Blue Nile region. According to the UN, as of 31 July, about 59,800 people had crossed into Sudan since the crisis in northern Ethiopia began in November 2020. Owing to severe international funding shortfalls, the World Food Programme was forced to cut rations for refugees across the country. It assisted more than 550,000 refugees in Sudan. From July, refugees received only half a standard food basket, or its equivalent in cash.
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