How to foster the right to peaceful assembly in Sudan?

4 Dec 2022

How to foster the right to peaceful assembly in Sudan?

Discussions on the Attorney General’s Office Role in Law and Practice

Article 21 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is party since 18 March 1986, states: “The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Since 25 October 2021, 121 people have lost their lives due to the use of force in protests. Over 7,000 protesters have been injured and over 5,000 people have been arrested and detained, including political leaders, activists, and pro-democratic protesters. The United Nations has issued several statements condemning the use of force in protests and calling for upholding the protestors’ right to peaceful assembly.

In December 2021, the UN started a series of discussions with the Attorney General’s office on the right to peaceful assembly. Since then, two discussions were held in Khartoum, one in Port Sudan, one in Wad Madani, one in Nyala and one in Al Obeid.

A total of 124 prosecutors including 25 women from Khartoum, North Darfur, South Darfur, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, EL Gezira, Kassala, Gedaref, and Red Sea States attended these sessions.

Participants discussed international standards and norms applying to protests in Sudan, the gaps in Sudan’s legal framework and challenges facing the prosecutors’ responsibility to protect in practice.

The UN provided the prosecutors with a practical tool to assess the use of force in the context of crowd management based on international standards.

“We are closely monitoring and reporting on any restrictions regarding the right to peaceful assembly in Sudan,” says Innocent Zahinda, UN Human Rights Chief in Sudan, “We want to make sure that the Attorney General’s Office and prosecutors have a good understanding of human rights standards for this right and are committed to delivering on accountability for related violations.”

Relevant international treaties and agreements ratified by Sudan that create an international obligation to respect the rights and freedoms of expression, assembly and association:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)

Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials

Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 (Right of peaceful assembly)