On May 29th, 2022, the sovereignty council announced the lifting of the state of emergency and release of detainees. Sudan was under an emergency state for the last 7 months, following the October 25th, 2021, military coup.
More than 150 detainees were arrested in the last few weeks, some of them were released, but at least 70 detainees remain in prison according to Emergency lawyers. The use of lethal weapons against protesters led to the killing of two protesters on May 23rd, 2022. The lifting of the state of emergency and release of some of the detainees comes amid the visit of the Sudan Designated Expert, Mr. Adama Dieng, to Khartoum, that started on June 1st. The changes are also required for starting a political process led by UNITAMS, IGAD and AU.
The state of emergency hindered the justice system in Sudan from upholding its normal duties. The conditions created by the military coup affected the processes of justice and accountability, including investigations into the Khartoum Massacre in front of the General Command on June 3rd, 2019. At least 4 women were killed during the sit-in crackdown, 51 were injured, and dozens were raped and sexually assaulted. Human Rights Watch described the violations in the Khartoum Massacre as “Crimes against Humanity”. In March 2022, the independent investigation committee into the massacre announced being forced to end its work by the authorities. Families of victims are fighting and calling for accountability and end of impunity of high officials in the military, Rapid Support Forces and National Security responsible for the massacre. After 3 years of the sit-in crackdown, over 38 people continue to be missing. As the local investigation committee was forced to stop, the victims, human rights groups and their families are calling for the conduction of an international investigation and lifting of impunity.
The third anniversary of the massacres come as the Sudanese people continue their struggle for freedom and democracy. Women Human Rights Defenders leading protests continue to call for justice and ending impunity for military and militia leaders involved in the June 3rd massacre and the crimes committed after the military coup since last October.
While the lifting of the emergency state is considered a positive step forward, the violence against peaceful protesters continues. Women protesters are facing increasing violence on streets. The security forces are using excessive force inside neighborhoods, including live ammunition and tear gas to intimidate families. Women and girls walking on streets or participating in protests are being beaten, looted and arrested by police and security forces. Women Rights Activists/Groups are facing increased restrictions in doing their work. The lifting of the state of emergency clearly had no impact in ending the systematic violence against the pro-democracy movement led by women and youth.
On the other hand, worrying actions and campaigns that aim at restoring the former regime’s Sharia laws and Public Orders Laws were reported in the last couple of weeks. The Sudanese security forces and police resumed their infamous public order campaigns targeting women selling Alcohol in Khartoum slums. These campaigns have led to the arrest of dozens of women, among them Christians. According to the legal reforms of 2020, no Christians would be punished for selling or consuming Alcohol. The police raids were violent, abusive and humiliating, which reminded the people of the early days of the former regime. Women and girls were sexually harassed by police during these raids. Reports from different cities of Khartoum reveal the orders in universities and some schools to force a dress code on women, which is increasing the fear of the return of the former regime’s public order laws.
We, the undersigned groups, call for:
- The Sudanese government must end the systematic violence against women and peaceful protesters.
- End impunity and release all the detainees or present them to fair trials, reveal their whereabouts and allow them access to lawyers and their families.
- End impunity and reform the justice system.
- The designated Sudan Expert in his visit must call the de facto authorities to end the systematic violence against women and peaceful protesters. He should call for the conduction of an independent investigation, accountability, justice and ending of impunity into crimes since the coup.
- The International stakeholders involved in Sudan, including OHCHR, UNITAMS and AU, must call for a comprehensive transitional justice process that ensures independent investigation of the Khartoum Massacre that leads to justice and accountability.
- Sudanese Women Rights Action
- Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in MENA