December 7, 2022

Biden administration hits Sudan central reserve police with sanctions and blocks all U.S. assets

Protestors clash with police in Khartoum, Sudan during a protest against the October military takeover of the transitional government, November 17, 2021 © 2021 AP Photo/Marwan Ali
Protestors clash with police in Khartoum, Sudan during a protest against the October military takeover of the transitional government, November 17, 2021 © 2021 AP Photo/Marwan Ali

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Monday that it had designated the Republic of the Sudan Central Reserve Police (CRP) for serious human rights abuse, asserting that “the CRP has used excessive force against pro-democracy protesters peacefully demonstrating against the military-led overthrow of the civilian-led transitional government in Sudan.”

“Since the October 25 military takeover, Sudan’s Central Reserve Police has used excessive force and violence intended to silence civilian activists and protesters,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “We condemn Sudan’s security services for killing, harassing, and intimidating Sudanese citizens. These actions are exacerbating the crisis in Sudan and are a direct contradiction to the Sudanese security services’ stated commitment to participate constructively in a facilitated process to resolve Sudan’s political crisis and return to a democratic transition.”

The CRP is a militarized Sudanese police unit that has been at the forefront of the Sudanese security forces’ violent response to peaceful protests in Khartoum.

The Treasury Department said, on January 17, 2022, the CRP and the anti-riot police led a deployment of Sudanese security forces to suppress demonstrations across Khartoum. Using live ammunition, CRP officers fired on protesters throughout the day outside of the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Medicine.

“One protester was shot and died later from his wounds. When protesters fled the scene, CRP, anti-riot police, and regular police chased them, arresting and beating some with batons and gun butts. By the end of the day, CRP officers fatally shot another protester near al-Jawda hospital, and injured others,” the Department said.

It said OFAC designated the CRP pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818 for being a foreign person responsible for or complicit in, or that has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the CRP that are in or come within the United States, or that are in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated persons,” the Department said.

In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken said, “The United States is designating Sudan’s Central Reserve Police (CRP) for serious human rights abuses committed during protests calling for democracy.”

“We are taking this step to hold to account those perpetrating abuses and to deter future violence. The CRP, a militarized police unit involved in multiple violent responses to peaceful protestors, is being sanctioned today for using excessive force, including lethal force, against demonstrators protesting the military takeover. On January 17, CRP officers used live ammunition against protesters, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. This incident is one of many since the October 25, 2021, military takeover after which Sudanese security forces have reportedly used lethal violence against protesters or violated or abused human rights,” Blinken said.

He added, “Reports of rape, killings, torture, and arbitrary detentions, among other abuses committed by CRP officers as recently as March 14, are ongoing. Reports that CRP officers raped and committed other acts of sexual abuse against female protesters – notably on December 21 and 22, as well as on March 14 – are particularly egregious. These actions are unacceptable and contrary to the Sudanese people’s desire for freedom, peace, and justice in their country. All abuses against protesters by CRP officers must be stopped.

“The United States maintains our full support for the collaborative efforts of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), the African Union, and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to facilitate a Sudanese-led political process to restore a civilian-led transition to democracy. In order for this process to be effective, the military and security services need to create an environment where all actors can safely participate in negotiations. We call for an immediate end to unjust detentions of civil society activists, politicians, journalists, cultural figures, and humanitarian workers; closure of media outlets; continued violence against peaceful protesters including sexual violence and attacks on medical facilities; and communications blackouts.

“Today’s action demonstrates that the United States continues to use the tools at our disposal to stop the violence and press for a restoration of Sudan’s democratic transition. These designations build upon the United States’ previous actions towards these goals, including pausing and redirecting assistance that would have benefited the Government of Sudan. Reversal of that decision would be considered with Sudan’s progress toward and accomplishment of a civilian-led transition to democracy. We remain poised to use all tools at our disposal to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of a democratic, human rights-respecting, and prosperous Sudan.”

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