UN body calls for ‘immediate’ return of civilian rule in Sudan
UN body calls for ‘immediate’ return of civilian rule in Sudan

GENEVA: The UN top rights body on Friday condemned last week’s coup in Sudan, urging the immediate return to civilian rule and ordering more monitoring of the evolving situation.

Following an emergency session, the UN Human Rights Council rebuked of Sudan’s military after it seized power on October 25.

The 47-member council adopted by consensus a resolution calling for the “immediate restoration” of the civilian-led government.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s de facto leader since strongman Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, last week dissolved the government, detained civilian leaders, and declared a state of emergency.

Friday’s resolution, presented by Britain, Germany, Norway and the United States, condemned the “arbitrary detention” of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and others, demanding their immediate release.

In her opening statement to the council, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet described the situation as “deeply disturbing”, saying most detainees were being held “incommunicado, with no access to lawyers or their relatives.” Thursday evening, Sudan TV said Burhan had ordered the release of four government ministers, although it was not immediately clear when they would be released.

The military power grab prompted international outcry and mass protests across Sudan that security forces met with a deadly crackdown leaving at least 13 civilians dead and more than 300 injured, Bachelet said.

“This disproportionate and deadly use of force… must end immediately,” she said.

‘Dramatic deterioration’
The rights chief condemned an internet shutdown and a communications blackout in Sudan, with only media controlled by the military continuing broadcasting.

The coup betrayed Sudan’s “courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019,” Bachelet said, adding that it was “urgent to restore civilian rule”.

A long line of countries echoed her concerns, with British Ambassador Simon Manley decrying the “dramatic deterioration in the human rights situation” in Sudan since the coup.

Some countries, including Russia, China and Venezuela, meanwhile took the floor to slam the special session as an “unacceptable” interference in Sudan’s internal affairs.

The three said they disassociated themselves from Friday’s consensus, but did not request a vote on the text.

It would have been customary for Sudan to address the council Friday, but that was abandoned amid confusion over who represents the crisis-hit country.

During her address, Bachelet urged the council to take “appropriate action” to closely monitor human rights developments in the country.

But following significant diplomatic wrangling, Friday’s resolution was weakened, with the final version dropping a request for the appointment of a so-called Special Rapporteur, or independent rights expert, to follow developments.

Such an expert had previously kept tabs on Sudan, but the council decided last year to discontinue the mandate.

Instead of reinstituting a special rapporteur, the council on Friday called for a “designated expert” within Bachelet’s office to be tasked with following the situation.

It also called for the UN rights chief to update the council on developments during the next regular session in March.

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