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ACHPR 69: Protect women human rights defenders in Sudan

During each ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘The African Commission’), Commissioners present their activity reports which provides an overview of the work done in between two sessions. On 23 November 2021, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Focal point on reprisals presented his report.

During the presentation of his report, he shared activities in participated in focusing on the protection of LGBTQ defenders’ rights and raising awareness on the rights of women defenders in east Africa. In addition, he also took part in a regional workshop focused on the shrinking civic space in West Africa and was involved through a number of activities in the establishment of the Portuguese-Speaking Human Rights Platform (PLUDH).

During the reporting period, the mechanism received approximately 25 complaints of alleged human rights violations regarding Algeria, Angola, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco and Zimbabwe. Where necessary, these complaints were followed up with urgent appeals to the authorities in the respective countries. Thus, a total of 11 urgent appeal letters were sent, including two (2) to Algeria, one (1) to Angola, two (2) to Egypt, one (1) to Ghana, one (1) to Libya, three (3) to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and one (1) to Zimbabwe. The allegations mainly concerned cases of judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, killing of human rights defenders, restrictions on the activities of NGOs and civil society organisations, inhuman and degrading treatment, restrictions on freedom of association and assembly and freedom of expression, physical attacks, repression, enforced disappearance, smear campaigns, death threats, reprisals and surveillance.

Following the presentation of the report, ISHR delivered a statement focusing on the human rights violations committed in Sudan since the coup in October 2021, especially against women and women human rights defenders.

“The crackdown on Sudanese WHRDs is increasing everyday especially through arrests, intimidation, house raids and surveillance. Sudanese women activists outside Sudan reported threats and their families in Sudan being questioned” said Stéphanie Wamba, ISHR Africa Advocate.

She noted that the military authorities arrested, threatened and intimidated union leaders and members who participated in the civil disobedience. Bankers, oil engineers, and teaching unions have reported arrests of union leaders and dismissal of union members since the start of the crackdown. Moreover, dozens of women protesters were injured during the protests on 30 October 2021 due to the excessive use of force by the joint forces including police and the military.

In conclusion she called on the Commission to urgently issue a statement on the situation of defenders in Sudan to condemn the killings and targeting of defenders, to highlight the gendered aspect of these violations and invited the Commission to cooperate with the newly established Expert on human rights in Sudan by the UN Human Rights Council.

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