UN human rights office urges restraint as death toll in Sudan fuel protests rises

27 September 2013

The United Nations human rights office today called for restraint after dozens of people have been killed across Sudan amid protests against the Government’s decision to suspend fuel subsidies.

“We are deeply concerned about reports that a significant number of people have been killed during the demonstrations taking place across Sudan since Monday,” Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

Media reports say at least 30 people have been killed during the demonstrations, which began in Sudan’s central state of Gezira and then spread to other parts of the country, including the capital, Khartoum.

Ms. Pouilly said that in Khartoum, violent clashes erupted between demonstrators and police forces, resulting in an unknown number of casualties.

“Security forces are reported to have used excessive force in suppressing the protests, with security agents allegedly firing live ammunition at some protesters and beating others,” she stated. “Witnesses speak of bodies of dead demonstrators with gunshot wounds in the upper torso and head. There have also been reports of destruction of property by demonstrators.”

OHCHR reminded the authorities that under international law, intentional lethal use of firearms can only be justified when strictly unavoidable and only in order to protect life.

“We therefore call on law enforcement officials to show utmost restraint and make sure that they comply at all times with international human rights obligations and international standards on policing,” said Ms. Pouilly.

“We call on all parties to refrain from resorting to violence and on protesters to maintain the peaceful nature of their demonstrations,” she added. “We also urge the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views.”

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