UN rights expert calls on Sudan to charge or release detained protesters

[JURIST] A UN independent rights expert on Thursday expressed "deep concern" about the Sudanese government's detention of citizens [press release] and heavy media censorship. According to reports, at least 800 activists were arrested during a demonstration concerning the fuel subsidy cuts, which almost doubled the price [Guardian report] of gasoline in Sudan. The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, reported that, "Civilians have a right to assembly and peaceful demonstrations under international law, and the Government of the Sudan has an obligation to respect these rights under its constitution and under international law." Baderin urged the government to either charge those detained with a "recognizable offense" or immediately release them. The expert also expressed the need for the end of media censorship to "enable basic freedoms." Correspondents in the area have reported that the government shut down the Internet on more than occasion and demanded [Guardian report] that the newspapers exclude any information on death tolls and the behavior of the security agencies during protests. As a result, multiple newspapers refused to print one-sided accounts of the events.

In June Amnesty International urged Sudanese authorities to stop using violence [JURIST report] against protesters and journalists. Shortly after this report, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged these same security agencies to avoid engaging in violent conflicts [JURIST report] with protesters and to release the detainees from previous protests. Contrary to the pressure from the UN to avoid violent practices, various sources reported that the Sudanese security agencies used excessive force against the protesters including tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets, ultimately killing up to 50 citizens.

 

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