Rights Group Calls for Open Civil Society Space in Sudan


DefendDefenders, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project expressed grave concern on a rapidly deteriorating civil space in Sudan and calls for proactive measures to reverse it.

“16 months after the military coup of 25 October 2021, Sudan’s human rights situation remains grim” said Hassan Shire, DefendDefenders Executive Director, further stressing a need for continued international scrutiny of Sudan.

Mr. Shire made the remarks while addressing the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council convened in Geneva on 27 February-4 April 2023.

According to DefendDefenders, Human rights defenders, journalists, protesters, and all those who express dissent or demand full civilian rule remain targeted in Sudan.

The group said it was concerned by new measures imposed by the Humanitarian Aid Commission against NGOs and urged the UN High Commissioner, the designated Expert, and the Special Rapporteur on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association to push back against the stifling of Sudanese civil society.

Mr. Shire reiterated the central importance of Sudanese citizens’ right to protest

“No democratic Sudan will be possible without an open civic space” he added emphasizing a need for investigations, prosecutions, and redress.

“Judicial institutions must ensure accountability at the command responsibility level, including for serious violations committed about the coup and the popular revolution of 2018-2019.  Impunity so far remains almost complete” he said.

While welcoming the signing of a Framework Agreement between civilian leaders and the military, Mr. Shire however stressed that Sudan needs continued international scrutiny.

“The Council should ensure that public debates on Sudan’s human rights situation continue to be held, as over 50 NGOs urged” he added.

According to reports, the democratic environment for human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society, journalists, bloggers, the media, and dissenting voices in Sudan is seeing a sharp decline.

Khartoum is under fire by several concerned bodies to change course, and cease any crackdown, intimidation, harassment, and attacks against HRDs and dissident voices.

(The East African Daily)

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