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Sudan: Protect lives, stop death sentences and execution of civilians

Civil society calls on the international community to protect civilians and to urge fighting parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. This includes ending all forms of targeting of civilians on the basis of ethnic or political affiliations. Civil society further calls for fair trials and an end to the death penalty in Sudan.

In the last two months, more than 6 death sentences against civilians were documented in the Sudanese military forces’ control areas. Two death sentences were issued by courts at the start of June 2024. One was for a woman named Hanaa Daw Elbeit by a court in Port Sudan and the second was against  lawyer Eissa Ahmed in the Blue Nile state. The Sudanese justice system is using articles 50 and 51 of “undermining the State” against civilians accused of supporting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Militia. The judges used the execution punishment as the highest sentence according to the law on charges of treason against the State in most of the sentences issued.

Lawyer Eissa Ahmed was sentenced to death by a local court in the Blue Nile State on 11 June 2024. He was accused of allegedly supporting the RSF Militia following posts and WhatsApp messages found on his phone. Hanaa Daw Elbeit was sentenced to death following a search on her phone where messages supporting the RSF were allegedly found, in early June 2024 in a local circuit in Port Sudan. Moreover, other sentences include Shimaa Ahmed, a young woman sentenced to life at the same court. In Atbara in northern Sudan, a woman accused of supporting the RSF received a death sentence in May 2024. Back in  March 2024, a court in Algadarif sentenced a man to death, following accusations of his alleged work with RSF and publishing a Facebook post supporting the Militia. Last month, another man was sentenced to death under the same accusation following his arrest by the joint forces in Alagdarif.

Early this year, a woman in her 60s died inside a detention center in Atbara, following her imprisonment for more than 5 months in poor conditions without access to medical care. She was detained on the accusation of supporting the Militia as well.

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) is leading a campaign of arrests against civilians based on ethnic affiliation within communities allegedly supporting RSF and members of political parties and activists calling for an end to the war who are accused of supporting the Militia. Following the passing of the laws reinstating the former regime’s security forces in May, a joint force of SAF intelligence and former regime security led an arrest campaign in different States under SAF control. Dozens of civilians and activists are detained either based on their ethnic affiliations or as a result of their opinions or posts on social media. Some detainees were presented to brief trials with limited access to legal aid. Lawyers and activists who tried to support the detainees faced intimidation and threats. According to lawyers and local rights groups, the legal procedures followed in some of the courts’ decisions did not grant detainees their rights to fair trials. 

In RSF-controlled areas, on the other hand, houses holding execution rooms were found in Khartoum. Lists of people sentenced to death, including women, were found in these houses. Reports of executions inside RSF detention centers or death under torture increased in the last few months. The Militia has conducted summary executions against detainees in the past months according to testimonies of released detainees.  

We, the undersigned groups and organisations, call on: 

  • the Sudanese authorities to ensure fair trials and access to legal aid to detainees or those convicted with crimes
  • the international community to protect civilians and urge fighting parties to respect obligations under international humanitarian law, including ending all forms of targeting of civilians on the basis of ethnic or political affiliations, calling for fair trials and an end to the death penalty in Sudan
  • the independent UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Sudan  to document and  investigate these grave violations of human rights to be included in the FFM’s report to the Human Rights Council in September 2024
  • the International Criminal Court to investigate these crimes and ensure that the perpetrators, namely warring parties and their affiliated armed groups, are held accountable
  • States and international human rights organisations to support local groups and initiatives documenting these crimes and providing legal aid to detainees.  

Signatories:

  • Sudanese Women Right Action (SUWRA)
  • The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in Southwest Asia and North Africa (WHRDMENA)
  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

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