IBAHRI calls on Sudan’s General al-Burhan to end security forces’ violence and for the international community to impose targeted sanctions

Tuesday 8 February 2022

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on Sudan’s self-appointed Ruling Council leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Sudanese military to cease immediately the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators, which is against international law. The IBAHRI condemns the violent crackdown on protesters, noting reports that women and girls are being disproportionately targeted, with rape being used as a deliberate silencing tool by armed soldiers to deter female protesters from participating in demonstrations that call for a civilian-led democratic government. Female protestors have been at the forefront of the recent demonstrations.

Given reports of Sudanese security forces killing protesters, with the latest being Mohamed Yousif Ismail on 30 January 2022, the IBAHRI calls on the international community to impose targeted sanctions against the country’s military generals. The death of the 27-year-old brings the total number of protesters killed since the October 2021 military coup d’etat in Sudan to 79. As well as the violent crackdown by the country’s military and security forces against peaceful protesters, the IBAHRI also condemns the revocation of journalists’ and media outlets’ accreditations in Sudan.

IBAHRI Co-chair and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, commented:​​​​​​​ The IBAHRI calls on Sudan’s General al-Burhan and security forces’ officers to command a halt to the violence being meted out on peaceful protesters. Amid the violent crackdown on dissidents and the media, the IBAHRI calls on the international community to utilise targeted sanctions against military generals to deter further human rights violations and facilitate Sudan’s return to a civilian-led Transitional Sovereign Council, in accordance with the 2019 Constitutional Document.’

Ramberg added: ‘An independent and transparent investigation into the bloodshed must be undertaken and conducted in accordance with international standards, and there should be no blanket immunity from prosecution for soldiers. The rule of law must prevail with criminal prosecutions, fair trials and enforcement of judicial rulings against perpetrators, including those in the line of command.’

On 23 January 2022, amid a campaign of arrests of civil society and pro-democracy figures by Sudanese authorities, the prominent women’s rights activist Amira Osman was abducted from her home in a night raid by 15 armed, masked men. The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) stated that it was outraged by Osman’s arrest, citing a ‘pattern of violence against women’s rights activists’ that ‘severely risks reducing their political participation in Sudan.’

On 17 January 2022, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), Sudan’s security forces killed seven protesters by firing live ammunition into peaceful demonstrations in Khartoum and other areas in Sudan. The deaths marked one of the deadliest days since the October 2021 military coup. The CCSD has further reported that more than 2,000 protesters have been injured by State security forces, particularly by the Rapid Support Forces. Other reports state that three children under the age of 18 have been killed and others injured during demonstrations.

Following the recent killings, 55 Sudanese judges and 100 prosecutors released separate statements condemning the use of lethal force against protesters, calling for investigations and a lifting of the state of emergency that has provided blanket immunity and wider powers to security forces.

In addition to attacks on demonstrators, it has been reported that at least eight journalists have been abused by security forces whilst documenting protest action. Also, on 16 January 2022, Sudanese authorities withdrew the broadcast licence of television network Al Jazeera Mubasher and revoked the accreditation of both Al Jazeera journalist Mohammed Omar and photographer Badawi Bashir. The Sudanese Ministry of Culture and Information cited ‘the un-professional coverage of the Sudanese affairs,’ and the reporting of ‘incorrect information that damages the country’s interest and social fabric’ as the reasons for the revocations.

The increased clampdown on freedom of opinion and expression through the arrests of journalists, home and office raids, ill-treatment of media workers and suspension of licences, as well as the shutdown of communication networks, is of growing concern to the international community.

IBAHRI Director, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, commented: ‘Not only is the killing of peaceful protesters and the suppression of the role of the media a blatant attack on the right to self-determination, it reveals a lack of sincere commitment and good faith from the military. Sudan is the country that has seen the most military coups on the African continent. These power grabs have become predictable and prevent the development of the very democratic institutions which the people desire. The people of Sudan clearly want self-determination and the rule of law, not rule by military diktat.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, with the aim of protecting and promoting the rule of law globally, the IBA was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for fair practice and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.
  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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For further information, please contact: the IBA Human Rights Institute at IBAHRI@int-bar.org

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