UN rights expert in Sudan urges security reforms, accountability

A UN expert on Thursday called for reforms in Sudan’s security services and accountability, during a first visit to the country reeling from turmoil since a 2021 military power grab.

Radhouane Nouicer’s visit, which began Saturday, comes more than a month after civilian and military factions agreed on an initial step in a two-phase political process aimed at restoring stability.

Sudan has been gripped by deepening unrest since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a coup in October 2021, derailing a transition to civilian rule following the 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir.

Nouicer, a Tunisian diplomat, met with Burhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, as well as other senior Sudanese officials.

The UN human rights expert urged authorities to “hold to account” officials who had abused their powers and called for “a clear roadmap for security sector reform”.

“The immunity from prosecution of members of the security forces implicated in human rights violations must be lifted,” he told a news conference in Khartoum.

Last month, Sudanese factions launched talks over the second phase of the political process.

The ongoing negotiations are meant to hammer out details on key contentious issues including transitional justice, accountability and security reforms.

Nouicer took up the position of rights expert for Sudan in December, replacing Adama Dieng who had resigned two months prior.

He cited violations documented by the United Nations since the military takeover, including torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.

The coup triggered near-weekly demonstrations which were met by a violent crackdown that killed more than 120 people, according to pro-democracy medics.

The coup has also deepened a spiraling economic crisis and heightened ethnic clashes in Sudan’s remote regions, which killed around 900 people last year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Nouicer also called on authorities to allow the work of civil society groups who have complained about “mounting restrictions” on their activities.

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