New report: Accountability for Crimes in Sudan, the Only Path to Justice and Stability


ملخص التقرير باللغة العربية

As atrocities continue to be committed daily in Sudan, and with mounting evidence implicating both warring sides in serious human rights abuses, a new REDRESS report calls on the international community to hold perpetrators accountable, to tackle the root cause of Sudan’s cyclical violence, and to deliver justice to victims. 

The report, “Ruining a country, devastating its people”, shared with States’ representatives attending the current session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, examines prima facie evidence of legal violations committed by the warring parties since the conflict started on 15 April 2023. As set out in the report, their disregard for civilian life and infrastructure has resulted in more than 4,000 people being killed, five million people being displaced, more than 6,500 people being arbitrarily detained, and at least 100 cases of rape and other sexual and gender-based violence. 

Reflecting on the context to the various ongoing mediation initiatives, the report notes that “there is a large body of credible prima facie evidence implicating both sides in the commission of serious human rights abuses and possible war crimes, including mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance, rape and other sexual and gender-based violence, intentionally targeting civilians and protected objects, and hostage-taking.” Alongside war crimes, the report finds that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that some of the patterns of violations being reported constitute crimes against humanity, as well as credible accounts of conduct in Darfur that could possibly amount to genocide. 

Accountability and wide legislative and institutional reforms are essential pre-requisites to ensure human rights protection and justice in Sudan. Recognising the major hurdles to credible domestic prosecutions, the report calls on international actors to play their part in supporting efforts towards justice and accountability in Sudan.  

As key priorities , the UN Human Rights Council should establish an international independent commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, at least since 15 April 2023, and States should rapidly scale up support to Sudanese organisations, particularly those conducting documentation work, providing humanitarian assistance, and supporting survivors to provide much needed relief to victims and to preserve crucial evidence.  

In addition, the report urges States to advance accountability through the use of targeted sanctions against those individuals and entities most responsible for ongoing human rights abuses, and to arrest and prosecute any such individuals that enter their territory under the principle of universal jurisdiction. It also calls on the ICC Prosecutor to investigate all credible allegations of international crimes committed within its jurisdiction in Sudan. 

Finally, the report urges mediating organisations and States to ensure that justice is prioritised within any peace process and democratic transition, and that, once a peace agreement is reached, a civilian government is established in which the military will not play a continued role. 

Caitlan Lloyd, REDRESS’ Legal Officer, said: 

“Historic unwillingness to prioritise accountability in Sudan is a palpable root cause of the current armed conflict. While the end of Omar al-Bashir’s rule offered an opportunity for unprecedented human rights and political reforms, this was undermined by accommodating the two chief protagonists of the current armed conflict, al-Burhan and Hemedti. The years that have followed have seen violent crackdowns on protestors, human rights activists, medical workers, journalists, and opposition figures, as well as another coup, followed by an armed conflict. Unless Sudan implements wide reforms to break this cycle of impunity, history will repeat itself.” 

For more information or for an interview, contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Head of Communications, on eva@redress or +44 (0)20 7793 177 

Photo credit: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah. Aerial bombardment in a neighbourhood in Bahri (Khartoum North), during clashes between the paramilitary RSF and the army in May 2023.