UN expert says human rights violations rage on in Sudan — Global Issues

The independent expert outlined what’s been happening on the ground as violence and displacement continue to ripple across the country following the outbreak of clashes between the national army and RSF militia in April 2023.

Out of 45 million people, more than seven million have been displaced, with some seeking safety in neighbouring nations, and half the total population needs humanitarian assistance, according to the UN aid agency, OCHA.

More than 13,000 people have been killed and another 26,000 injured since the conflict began, according to the UN agency’s latest situation report published on Sunday.

Describing a range of sinister and ongoing violations of basic human rights, Mr. Noucier told UN News’s Abdelmonem Makki why he is calling for an immediate ceasefire and why impunity must end for perpetrators.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

© UNHCR/Ala Kheir

Displaced people arrive in South Sudan from Sudan through the Joda border crossing.

UN News: The brutal armed conflict in Sudan has entered its tenth month, and you issued a statement on this occasion, deploring the grim human rights situation in the country and urging the leaders of both sides of the conflict to put an immediate end to the violence. Could you elaborate on this?

Radhouane Nouicer: We are witnessing all sorts of violations of basic rights in Sudan: extrajudicial killing, indiscriminate shelling of private and public areas, unlawful detention, including over human rights activists and NGO representatives, torture, beatings, looting of private and public properties, mass graves. Most alarming, we have seen and documented a number of gender-based violence cases, including sexual violence against women and girls.

On the economic and social aspects, the economy has immediately collapsed. You may know that 46 per cent of Sudanese are unemployed today, that the Sudanese currency has seen inflation of 250 per cent over the last few months.

The judicial system has been decimated. There are 19 million Sudanese children who are out of school, not to mention the massive displacement internally and externally. Over 7.6 million Sudanese were being forced out of their homes and their places of origin; 1.6 million of them have found shelter in the neighboring countries.

Even humanitarian assistance is difficult to deliver because of insecurity and because of many other bureaucratic hurdles. On top of that, in many situations, the conflict has taken a left turn because some minorities or some communities have been specifically targeted by other groups, which has fed hate speech in many areas of the country. Enough is enough.

UN News: You have been calling for ensuring that all violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law are promptly and thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are held accountable. How effective are these calls in light of the continuing violations since the beginning of this war?

Radhouane Nouicer: In my view, impunity over decades in Sudan has been at the origin of all the abuses that we are witnessing today, despite the fact that many declarations were made by the fighting parties, establishing mechanisms and committees to go through these violations – or alleged violations – and to bring the perpetrators of these violations to justice.

We haven’t had any results on these investigations. I think that the priority in Sudan is to stop this impunity and to bring people who have committed crimes to justice, to national justice and if not, then international justice.

Children and families flee by foot from Wad Madani, in Al Jazirah state, Sudan, following clashes in December. (file)

© UNICEF/Mohamdeen

Children and families flee by foot from Wad Madani, in Al Jazirah state, Sudan, following clashes in December. (file)

UN News: You visited Sudan when you first assumed your duties as the UN expert on human rights in Sudan. Are you still in contact with the parties?

Radhouane Nouicer: You certainly know that most international staff of the UN and even international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have left Sudan or had been evacuated because of the insecurity.

But we still have office in Port Sudan. We have our Sudanese colleagues who are still inside the country, even if some of them have been forced, like millions of others, to leave their place of origin.

But, there’s a report on what they have witnessed and information collected on human rights violations. We do have a weekly meeting with Sudanese NGOs based inside Sudan, as well as in neighbouring countries.

I personally continue to connect with Sudanese ambassadors, both in Geneva and New York.

Whenever there is the opportunity for that, we continue to ask questions and to collect information. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has its regulations in terms of documenting, collecting information and making sure that the information is correct because we do not accuse any State or government of any violation if we do not have a solid document or a solid information on that fact.

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