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UN Condemns Reports of Sexual Assaults on Peaceful Protesters in Sudan

People protests against the October military coup in Khartoum, Sudan, Dec. 19, 2021. Monitors have received reports of security members using disproportionate force against protesters, with some reports accusing them of sexually assaulting demonstrators.

GENEVA – U.N. human rights officials are calling on Sudanese authorities to investigate and bring to justice members of the security forces accused of sexually assaulting several women and girls during demonstrations held Sunday in the capital, Khartoum.

What began as a peaceful protest, allegedly quickly turned into a chaotic scene of sexual violence, harassment, and deadly force. U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell says U.N. monitors in Sudan have received reports 13 women and girls were victims of rape or gang rape during a recent demonstration.

“We have also received allegations of sexual harassment by security forces against women who were trying to flee the area around the presidential palace on Sunday evening. Two protesters died after being shot, and around 300 others were injured, some due to the use of live ammunition, some hit by tear gas canisters or beaten by security forces, and others who suffered breathing difficulties from tear gas inhalation,” Throssell said.

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Tens of thousands of people took part in demonstrations marking the third anniversary of protests that led to the overthrow of the government of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Demonstrators also gathered to protest the military coup in October and the political agreement that was signed in November.

The U.N. human rights office is calling on Sudanese authorities to investigate the allegations of rape and sexual harassment promptly and thoroughly. Throssell said the alleged deaths and injury of protesters because of the disproportionate use of force and live ammunitions also must be investigated.

“The perpetrators must be identified and prosecuted. With further protests planned for this weekend and the weeks ahead, it is crucial that security forces guarantee and protect the right to peaceful assembly and act with full respect for international laws and standards regulating the use of force,” she said.

Throssell noted the country’s acting attorney general has set up a committee of senior prosecutors to investigate all human rights violations committed since the military coup on October 25.

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The U.N. human rights office is urging national authorities to make the committee findings public and to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.

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