To the Commissioners and Special Mechanisms of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
25 October 2022
The ACHPR should continue its strong support of the Sudanese people and call for the installation of a civilian government in the wake of the 2021 military coup
On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), Atrocities Watch Africa and the Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum call on Commissioners to continue their strong support of the Sudanese people in reiterating the human rights language concerning the ongoing crisis in Sudan that has previously been utilized in ACHPR correspondence. Such language was included in the ACHPR’s 27 October 2021 statement condemning the October 25, 2021 military coup and the resolution passed on 5 December 2021.
Many of the strong recommendations made in these documents continue to be flouted by the military government in place. We highlight the need to impress upon Sudanese authorities the rights of all citizens, as guaranteed by article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to participate freely in the government of their countries. We call for a strong resolution that highlights existing African human rights instruments and regional and international human rights frameworks, particularly the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance, which recognizes that the principles of good governance, transparency, and human rights are essential to guarantee representative and stable governments and can contribute to the prevention of conflict.
Of key concern are violations of the right to national and international peace and security (article 23) of the African Charter as noted in the December 2021 resolution. The current state of emergency in the country was cited by the ACHPR as a violation of the 2019 Constitutional Document (CD) of Sudan and the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement. We particularly highlight ongoing concerns that the human rights situation in Sudan contravenes the right to life (article 4), respect for dignity inherent in a human being (article 5), the right to freedom and security (article 6), the right to freedom of expression and to receive information (article 9), freedom of association (article 10), freedom of assembly (article 11), and the right to participate freely in the government of one’s country (article 14) as articulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In the past ten months since the latest ACHPR resolution on Sudan, the situation has deteriorated even further. As of 1 September 2022, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors has documented the deaths of over 117 peaceful demonstrators killed by security forces since the 25 October 2021 coup. Many reliable sources have reported to our organizations that demonstrators suffered gunshot wounds to the back, indicating that they were running from authorities. Despite statements from the current government that the interim period and 2019 CD installed following the 2018 – 2019 revolution remains in effect and a continued commitment to the holding of elections at the end of the period, it is unclear how fair and free elections could take place under the current environment and how the constitution-making process can proceed given that several articles governing the composition of the transitional government remain suspended. Strong constitutions require procedural elements guaranteeing public participation and support, and substantive elements safeguarding human rights guarantees, which seems untenable under the current status quo.
We note the suspension of Sudan by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on 26 October 2021, and other actions taken by international bodies such as the United Nations Security Council on 28 October 2021 and the United Nations Human Rights Council on 5 November 2021. This marks the second time since 2019 that Sudan has been suspended from the African Union, as they were in 2019 by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council following government crackdowns on the pro-democracy demonstrations which ousted the regime of Omar al Bashir and the killings of over 100 peaceful demonstrators on 3 June 2019 in what became known as the Khartoum Massacre. Despite the formation of an independent investigative body into the Khartoum Massacre under the previous transitional government ousted by the coup, the body was forced to suspend its work in May 2021 following lack of financial support and blockages imposed by the military government, contributing to an overall climate of impunity and lack of accountability.
We note the 17 March 2022 African Union Declaration on Unconstitutional Changes of Government in Africa, and in particular, its statement of “zero tolerance” for the manipulation of constitutions and all forms of unconstitutional changes of government, and strong condemnation of coup perpetrators and manipulation of democratic processes to effect constitution amendments or revisions for entrenching power in violation of other democratic principles.
We thank you for your attention to these pressing issues and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.
Atrocities Watch Africa
The Horn of Africa Civil Society Forum
 ACHPR, “Statement by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights following the coup d’état of October 25, 2021 in the Republic of Sudan”, 27 October 2021, https://www.achpr.org/fr_news/viewdetail?id=226
 ACHPR, “ Resolution on the Deterioration of the General Human Rights Situation in Sudan following the Coup d’état of 25 October 2021”, 5 December 2021, https://www.achpr.org/sessions/resolutions?id=542
 Radio Dabanga, “Sudan doctors: One protestor killed during Wednesday ‘disappearances’ demo”, 1 October 2022, https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-doctors-117th-protestor-killed-during-disappearances-demo
 AU PSC, “Communique on AU Peace and Security Council 1041st Meeting”, 26 October, https://www.peaceau.org/uploads/eng-final-communique-of-the-1041st-psc-meeting-in-sudan-26-october-2021.pdf
 UN Security Council, “Security Council Press Statement on Sudan”, 28 October 2021, https://press.un.org/en/2021/sc14678.doc.htm
 UN HRC, “Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 5 November 2021”, 5 November 2021, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/a_hrc_res_s_32_1.pdf
 Radio Dabanga, “June 3 Massacre investigation committee forced to suspend its activities”, 20 May 2021, https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/june-3-massacre-investigation-committee-forced-to-suspend-its-activities
 African Union, “Declaration on unconstitutional changes of government in Africa”, 17 March 2022, https://www.peaceau.org/en/article/declaration-on-unconstitutional-changes-of-government-in-africa.