UN rights chief: Sudan’s deadly coup is ‘deeply disturbing’

The UN Human Rights Council has convened a special session to discuss a draft resolution condemning the coup.

Sudanese security forces keep watch as they protect a military hospital and government offices during protests against a military coup overthrowing the transition to civilian rule on 25 October 2021. Picture: AFP

GENEVA - The UN rights chief on Friday branded "deeply disturbing" the recent military takeover in Sudan and urged diplomats in Geneva to "take appropriate action" to step up monitoring.

The UN Human Rights Council convened a special session to discuss a draft resolution presented by Britain, Germany, Norway and the United States condemning the coup.

The resolution calls for the "the immediate restoration" of the civilian-led government and increased rights monitoring after General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan's de facto leader since strongman Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, last week dissolved the government.

Michelle Bachelet told the meeting that the "military takeover of power in Sudan on 25 October 2021 is deeply disturbing."

Burhan detained civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, and declared a state of emergency.

Most detainees are being held "incommunicado, with no access to lawyers or their relatives," Bachelet said.

"All those arbitrarily detained should be released, with a view to instituting dialogue and return to civilian rule," she added.

The military power grab prompted international outcry and mass protests across Sudan that security forces met with a deadly crackdown leaving at least 13 civilians dead and more than 300 injured, Bachelet said.

MUST END IMMEDIATELY

"This disproportionate and deadly use of force ... must end immediately," she said.

The rights chief condemned an internet shutdown and a communications blackout in Sudan, with only media controlled by the military continuing broadcasting.

The coup betrayed Sudan's "courageous and inspiring revolution of 2019," Bachelet said, adding that it was "urgent to restore civilian rule".

The draft resolution calls for the appointment of a rights expert to monitor the situation.

"I trust this council will take appropriate action to ensure focused and expert monitoring," said Bachelet.

It would have been customary for Sudan to address the council on Friday, but that was abandoned amid confusion over who represents the crisis-hit country.

On Tuesday, Sudan's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva informed the council that it had withdrawn initial support for Friday's session and fired its top ambassador.

The UN said Friday, however, that the ambassador appointed by Sudan's ousted government remained the recognised representative of the country in Geneva.