Protesters in the city centre of Karthoum, Sudan.

US Imposes Sanctions for Violence against Protestors in Sudan

Who are the Central Reserve Police?

REDRESS welcomes today’s announcement that the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated the Central Reserve Police (CRP) of Sudan for sanctions for its involvement in serious human rights violations since the 25 October 2021 military coup. Today’s sanctions are the first of their kind imposed on any individuals or entities since Sudan’s military seized power, threatening Sudan’s once-promising democratic transition.

Since the coup, Sudan’s military has imposed a state of emergency and carried out a violent crackdown on protestors, human rights activists, medical workers, journalists, and opposition figures. Five months on, nearly 90 protestors have been killed and thousands of others injured as government forces, including the CRP, continue to use excessive and lethal force.

In early February 2022, REDRESS submitted evidence to the U.S. Government calling for sanctions in response to these and other serious human rights violations. This followed similar submissions made by REDRESS to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in late 2021. In early March 2022, REDRESS provided sanctions authorities further information specifically on the CRP.

REDRESS argued in its submissions that sanctioning individuals and entities in Sudan involved in serious human rights violations would make a meaningful contribution to returning Sudan to a path towards democracy, and that a decision by the United States to impose the recommended sanctions would be consistent with its leadership to-date in multilateral venues on transitional justice, peacebuilding, and accountability processes in Sudan.

Identifiable by their light brown camouflage uniforms with a bird insignia, the CRP is led by General Al-Shami Abdallah Mohamed Abdoun. In addition to REDRESS, organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Sudanese Archive have confirmed that the CRP played a critical role in the violent crackdown on protestors since the 25 October 2021 coup, including on the deadliest day of protests to date, 17 November 2021, when at least 16 people were killed.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Charlie Loudon, International Legal Adviser at REDRESS, said:

“These are the first sanctions issued in response to the wave of human rights violations that have followed last year’s military coup in Sudan. Today’s sanctions send an important message that those responsible for the killing, injuring and torture of peaceful protestors in Sudan will be held to account.”

The CRP is a militarised police unit which officially falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior and operates under the mandate of the 1992 Police Force Law (sometimes referred to as the Popular Police Forces Act). In practice, under former president Omar al-Bashir the CRP operated as an auxiliary force to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), and this arrangement appears to have survived NISS’s transition to the General Intelligence Service (GIS) in 2019. The Bashir-era command-and-control practices remain in place today, and the CRP answers directly to the GIS.

The most well-known CRP commander is former Janjaweed leader Ali Mohamed Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Kushayb”) from the Ta’aisha tribe of Central Darfur. Kushayb is currently in the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC); his trial, on 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the conflict in Darfur, is scheduled to open on 5 April 2022. Ahmed Haroun, the former governor of South Kordofan who is subject to an ICC arrest warrant for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, has also been linked to the CRP.

For more information or for an interview, contact Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications, on [email protected] or +44 (0) 20 7793 1777.