OHCHR / SUDAN HUMAN RIGHTS

05-Nov-2021 00:05:01
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet described the military takeover of power in Sudan as “deeply disturbing,” adding that it “betrays the courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019, and contravenes both international human rights laws, as well as the country's own Constitutional Document and other foundational documents of the transition.” UNTV CH
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STORY: OHCHR / SUDAN HUMAN RIGHTS
TRT: 5:01
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 05 NOVEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
05 NOVEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior
2. Wide shot, Human Right Council
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The military takeover of power in Sudan on 25 October 2021 is deeply disturbing. It betrays the courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019, and contravenes both international human rights laws, as well as the country's own Constitutional Document and other foundational documents of the transition.”
4. Med shot, Secretary at dais
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The whereabouts of most of those arrested remain unknown, and they have been held incommunicado, with no access to lawyers or their relatives – enforced disappearances compounding the gravity of their arbitrary arrests.”
6. Med shot, Cuban delegate
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“As the Security Council called for last week and the Secretary-General reiterated yesterday, all those arrested and detained since the military takeover should be immediately released. This is also essential for commencing urgently needed dialogue and a swift return to civilian rule.”
8. Med shot, delegates
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“This disproportionate and deadly use of force by the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces, and other security forces – including military police and intelligence elements – must end immediately. Those responsible for these and other human rights violations must be held fully accountable for their actions.”
10. Med shot, Sudanese delegates
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“In a country where women and girls have been active leaders in the movement for democracy and human rights, many women activists have reportedly been arrested, harassed, threatened, and in many cases, beaten while participating in protests. I have also received several disturbing reports of violence against women, including the early morning raid of a female student dormitory located near the military headquarters in Khartoum on 25 October. The students were terrorized and beaten, resulting in injuries.”
12. Wide shot, delegates
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Despite freedom of movement restrictions and the disruption of communications, the Joint UN Human Rights Office in Sudan has nevertheless been able to continue key human rights monitoring and reporting work, in cooperation with civil society partners. Advocacy work also continues regarding the identity, location and legal status of all people detained, with a view to visiting them to ascertain their status and conditions of detention.”
14. Med shot, President of Human Rights Council at dais
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“I urge Sudan's military leaders, and their backers, to step back in order to allow the country to return to the path of progress towards institutional and legal reforms. In particular, the past two years have seen valuable progress towards setting up a National Human Rights Commission and key independent commissions envisaged in the Constitutional Document – including on transitional justice, land, women and gender equality, legal reforms, and corruption.”
16. Wide shot, Human Rights Council
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“It is significant that several rapporteurs and members of the Committee for Dismantling the 30 June 1989 Regime, Anti-Corruption and Recovery of Public Funds have been targeted for arrest in the past two weeks.”
18. Med shot, delegates
19. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“This suggests that the military leaders have sought to overturn the commitments to transitional justice, institutional reforms, anti-corruption and guarantee of non-recurrences of past abuses that have been set out in the Constitutional Document.”
20. Wide shot, Human Rights Council
21. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“I remind the Council that any tensions between these armed actors risk exacerbating tensions on the ground in Darfur – which could once again present a direct threat to civilians in that region.”
22. Wide shot, delegates
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The Sudanese people have a right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The use of excessive force – such as firing live bullets – to repress the expression of those rights is unlawful and unjustified. The Internet and all forms of communication must be reinstated, consistent with international law. This is particularly critical for people to remain informed during a crisis such as the present, and to be able to communicate with each other. And as previously stated, all those arbitrarily detained should be released, with a view to instituting dialogue and return to civilian rule.”
24. Wide shot, Human Rights Council
STORYLINE
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet described the military takeover of power in Sudan as “deeply disturbing,” adding that it “betrays the courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019, and contravenes both international human rights laws, as well as the country's own Constitutional Document and other foundational documents of the transition.”

Events since the coup have recalled a sombre page in the country’s history when freedom of expression was stifled, and human rights were comprehensively repressed. Numerous people – including government ministers, members of political parties, lawyers, civil society activists, journalists, human rights defenders and protest leaders – have been arrested and detained. Following his detention, the Prime Minister was placed under house arrest. On Thursday, State television announced that four Ministers would be released.

Addressing the Human Rights Council today (05 Nov), Bachelet said the whereabouts of most of those arrested remain unknown, “and they have been held incommunicado, with no access to lawyers or their relatives – enforced disappearances compounding the gravity of their arbitrary arrests.”

The High Commissioner said, “As the Security Council called for last week and the Secretary-General reiterated yesterday, all those arrested and detained since the military takeover should be immediately released. This is also essential for commencing urgently needed dialogue and a swift return to civilian rule.”

Massive street protests since 25 October were in several instances met with excessive use of force, including use of live ammunition, as documented by the Joint UN Human Rights Office in Sudan, particularly in Khartoum and Omdurman. According to medical sources, at least 13 civilians have been killed by military and security forces since 25 October, and more than 300 injured.

Bachelet said, “This disproportionate and deadly use of force by the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces, and other security forces – including military police and intelligence elements – must end immediately. Those responsible for these and other human rights violations must be held fully accountable for their actions.”

The High Commissioner highlighted that, in a country “where women and girls have been active leaders in the movement for democracy and human rights, many women activists have reportedly been arrested, harassed, threatened, and in many cases, beaten while participating in protests.” She noted “several disturbing reports of violence against women, including the early morning raid of a female student dormitory located near the military headquarters in Khartoum on 25 October. The students were terrorized and beaten, resulting in injuries.”

State security agents, usually wearing plain clothes, have also targeted key actors in the civic space. The Joint UN Human Rights Office documented the arrests and detentions of journalists, resistance committee members, and activists. The Democrat newspaper in Khartoum, and the Sudan News Agency, have been raided by military and unidentified forces, and the Director General of Sudan’s state radio and television has been dismissed.

Bachelet said she was informed that all radio stations and television channels in the country have ceased broadcasting, with the exception of Sudan National Television and Omdurman Radio, which are controlled by the military authorities; newspapers have ceased printing; and raids have also taken place at a number of offices of civil society organisations. In addition, a nation-wide shutdown of the Internet has been imposed since 25 October.

Bachelet said, “Despite freedom of movement restrictions and the disruption of communications, the Joint UN Human Rights Office in Sudan has nevertheless been able to continue key human rights monitoring and reporting work, in cooperation with civil society partners. Advocacy work also continues regarding the identity, location and legal status of all people detained, with a view to visiting them to ascertain their status and conditions of detention.”

The High Commissioner urged Sudan's military leaders, and their backers, “to step back in order to allow the country to return to the path of progress towards institutional and legal reforms. In particular, the past two years have seen valuable progress towards setting up a National Human Rights Commission and key independent commissions envisaged in the Constitutional Document – including on transitional justice, land, women and gender equality, legal reforms, and corruption.”

She said, “It is significant that several rapporteurs and members of the Committee for Dismantling the 30 June 1989 Regime, Anti-Corruption and Recovery of Public Funds have been targeted for arrest in the past two weeks.”

The Committee is the transitional body tasked with vetting, recovery of public assets from the former regime’s properties, and investigation and prosecution of corruption. As of 2 November 2021, the acting head of the National Committee in Khartoum; its alternate Chairperson; the Rapporteur; Spokesperson; and three members of the Committee had been arrested. At regional level, two Rapporteurs and five members of sub-national committees in Nyala, Sinnar and Aljazeera States have been arrested. Also arrested were numerous collaborators of the Dismantling Committee, including independent lawyers and civil servants.

Bachelet said, “This suggests that the military leaders have sought to overturn the commitments to transitional justice, institutional reforms, anti-corruption and guarantee of non-recurrences of past abuses that have been set out in the Constitutional Document.”

The High Commissioner said the military’s action also damaged prospects for the Juba Peace Agreement signed last year, and the situation in Darfur. She said at least two of the key signatories to the Agreement oppose the military takeover and threatened to withdraw from the Agreement. She said non-signatory parties are also now likely to be further discouraged from joining the Agreement.

Bachelet reminded the Council that any tensions between these armed actors “risk exacerbating tensions on the ground in Darfur – which could once again present a direct threat to civilians in that region.”

The High Commissioner said, “The Sudanese people have a right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The use of excessive force – such as firing live bullets – to repress the expression of those rights is unlawful and unjustified. The Internet and all forms of communication must be reinstated, consistent with international law. This is particularly critical for people to remain informed during a crisis such as the present, and to be able to communicate with each other. And as previously stated, all those arbitrarily detained should be released, with a view to instituting dialogue and return to civilian rule.”
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