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Sudan: UN rights expert demands accelerated probe into post-coup killings

Adama Dieng calls for investigation as killing of protester on Friday brings death toll since last year's coup close to 100
Sudan has been rocked by deepening unrest and a violent crackdown against near-weekly mass protests since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's power grab on 25 October 2021 (AFP)

A UN human rights expert on Sudan called on Saturday for accelerated investigations into the killings of protesters and other atrocities, as the death toll since last year's coup nears 100.  

Sudan has been rocked by deepening unrest and a violent crackdown against near-weekly mass protests since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's power grab on 25 October derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule.  

"It is simply unacceptable that 99 people have been killed and more than 5,000 injured as a result of excessive use of force by the joint security forces," Adama Dieng told reporters, quoting a toll provided by pro-democracy medics. 

He called on authorities "to expedite" investigations into the killings of protesters. 

On what was his second visit to Sudan since last year's coup, Dieng raised concerns during talks with senior officials over arbitrary and mass arrests of activists, sexual and gender-based violence, and "acts of torture and ill-treatment" during detentions. 

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He said a probe set up by Sudanese authorities has confirmed "four cases of sexual violence" during the protests. 

Dieng also pointed to an intensification of an existing economic crisis since the coup, which has seen western donors return to the sidelines after brief engagement with a civilian-military power-sharing government established in the wake of former president Omar al-Bashir being forced from office in 2019. 

Spiralling prices and a poor harvest are "forecast to dramatically increase the number of people living in poverty," the UN expert noted.  

Dieng is scheduled to meet Burhan later on Saturday, AFP reported.

Protester killed

On Friday, thousands of protesters took to the streets across Sudan to mark the third anniversary of a crackdown that medics say killed 128 people in June 2019, when armed men in military fatigues violently dispersed a weeks-long sit-in outside army headquarters.

A protester was killed during Friday's demonstrations despite calls by Dieng, echoed by western diplomats, for security forces to "refrain from excessive violence against protesters". 

The UN, along with the African Union (AU) and regional grouping Igad, have been pushing for Sudanese-led talks to break the post-coup political stalemate. 

On Friday, UN special representative Volker Perthes announced that the Security Council had voted to extend by one year the United Nations' mission in Sudan.

Perthes, as well as AU and Igad representatives, agreed with military officials to launch "direct talks" among Sudanese factions next week. 

On 29 May, Burhan lifted a state of emergency in force since the coup to set the stage for "meaningful dialogue that achieves stability for the transitional period".

Since April, Sudanese authorities have released several civilian leaders and pro-democracy activists.