Amnesty International on Thursday called on the transitional authorities in Sudan to transfer ousted President Omar al Bashir to the International Criminal Court, “in compliance with arrest warrants pending against him for crimes committed in Darfur between 2003 and 2010”.
Amnesty said while the recent appointment of a new Attorney General and Chief Justice offers hope that accountability will be a priority for the transitional authorities, successful prosecution of those found responsible for grave human rights violations would greatly bolster confidence in the national judicial system.
It called on the transitional authorities to live up to the hopes and expectations of the Sudanese people, one year after protests broke out in Khartoum, leading to the ouster of President Omar al Bashir on 11 April 2019.
“A year after the Sudanese people took to the streets to protest a spike in food prices ultimately ending three decades of the Al-Bashir regime, they can celebrate that their collective action brought an end to suffocating repression and revived hopes for a better Sudan,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“The transitional authorities must honor the commitments they made to restore the rule of law and protect human rights. The Sudanese people deserve nothing less.”
Amnesty said the Sudanese people’s hopes now lie squarely with the transitional authorities headed by Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, and backed by the Transitional Constitutional Charter, which enshrines the country’s most comprehensive Bill of Rights yet.
There have been some good signs. For instance, the government in November 2019 repealed the public order laws and brought to an end the era of egregious violations particularly targeting women’s rights and freedoms.
“The responsibility on Prime Minister Hamdok’s shoulders is as large as the aspirations of the Sudanese people who suffered decades of serious human rights violations, and crimes under international law including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The victims have the right to truth, justice and reparations under international law,” said Seif Magango.
Amnesty said the government must proactively address accountability for these crimes by among other things, rebuilding the credibility and capacity of the justice system to thoroughly and effectively investigate and prosecute the crimes.
Out of 185 people killed during anti-government protests in September 2013, Sudan’s prosecution office has only investigated and tried one case to date. In this single case, the accused was eventually acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence.
Between December 2018 and 11 April 2019, at least 77 protestors were killed, and hundreds injured across Sudan by security forces. On 3 June, the security forces, notably the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), brutally dispersed the massive sit-in in Khartoum with live ammunition and teargas, killing more than 100 people and injuring at least 700 others.
“The new Sudan authorities must ensure that members of the security forces who committed horrific crimes or used excessive force against protestors are held accountable in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty,” said Seif Magango.
“The people of Sudan braved live bullets, tear gas, brutal beatings and degrading treatment for months because they believed a better future was possible; it is now time for the interim authorities to make these hopes a reality.”