Documents to download

New agreement for a civilian-led government

Sudanese politics remains in flux following the overthrow of long-time leader President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. A civilian-led coalition government lasted until October 2021, when the military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took over in a coup. A state of emergency imposed following the coup was lifted in May 2022.

In December 2022 the military leadership signed an agreement with some civilian leaders to a two-year civilian-led transition.

The UK Government welcomed the signing of the political framework agreement, describing it as an “an essential first step toward establishing a civilian-led government and defining constitutional arrangements to guide Sudan through a transitional period culminating in elections.” 

But the Government also warned of the severe consequences of delaying a final agreement to form such a government, describing the need to address Sudan’s urgent humanitarian and economic challenges.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, also welcomed the signing of the framework agreement. Referencing a recent trip to Sudan, he said he was “touched by the will of the Sudanese people to envision the future of the country anchored in human rights and justice.

However, the agreement is opposed by several groups, and it is unclear when or if a new transitional government will be established.

FCDO Human Rights and Democracy Report 2021

The UK Government says the coup “put many of the gains on human rights made since the 2019 revolution at risk.” The FCDO documents the deterioration of human rights in its human rights and democracy report 2021, published in December 2022.

The FCDO notes that following the coup, Sudanese people’s rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression were “severely limited”, and many of the media freedoms gained since the 2019 revolution “were reversed.”

On human rights, the FCDO noted that while the former civilian-led government took some positive steps on human rights reforms, overall progress on delivering justice and accountability for past human rights violations and abuses was limited. The Government commits to urging the Sudanese authorities to “continue the former civilian-led government’s previous human rights trajectory to ensure hard-won gains are not lost.

UN Human Rights Council action

Following the coup, the UK led a Human Rights Council Special Session on the situation in Sudan in November 2021. The Council adopted a resolution calling for the protection of human rights and the appointment of an expert to monitor the situation of human rights in Sudan. Adama Dieng was subsequently designated the expert.

Dieng visited Sudan in February and June 2022. While he welcomed the lifting of the state of emergency, he said “more bold and concrete actions are needed to improve the human rights situation and build confidence”. He described as “unacceptable” the 99 people killed and more than 5,000 injured “as a result of excessive use of force by the joint security forces responding to protests.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council’s 50th session in June and July 2022 (A/HRC/50/22). The report covers the period from 25 October 2021 (the coup) to 10 April 2022.

The report documents the excessive use of force by security forces in response to peaceful protests against the coup. 93 people had been killed and over 5,000 persons injured “as a result of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force”, as of 10 April 2022. The report also documents the arbitrary arrest and detention of 1,293 people linked to the coup or protests against the coup during the reporting period, including the arrest of 157 children. The report also documents human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, against women and girls. The report also noted the broader restrictions imposed since October 2021:

Since the coup, the curtailing of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and association has severely restricted the space for private and public expression and exchange of information and ideas, also affecting the enjoyment and exercise of other rights.

Radhouane Nouicer replaced Dieng as the designated UN expert on the situation of the human rights in Sudan on 16 December 2022. During a visit to Sudan in early 2023, Nouicer called for accountability for abuse, saying “the immunity from prosecution of members of the security forces implicated in human rights violations must be lifted”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will update the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council on 3 March 2023. A comprehensive report will be submitted to the Council in June 2023.

Further information from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights is available from the OHCHR website.

Sudan was re-elected to the Human Rights Council in October 2022. When asked about impact on the credibility of the Council of Sudan’s election by Lyn Brown MP, Andrew Mitchell, the Minister for Development, said the Government hopes Sudan will use its presence as “an opportunity to demonstrate to the international community its commitment to international human rights law and to bringing those responsible for human rights violations to justice.” 

Reports on abuses of human rights and religious freedom

Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2023 notes that widespread abuses and attacks against civilians in Darfur continue. Security forces have been used across the country to suppress protests against the coup, with at least 117 people killed in the year since the October 2021 coup.

Rebecca Tinsley, of the human rights group Waging Peace, describes how Christians are “once more being persecuted by the Khartoum military junta.” Writing in the Church Times, Tinsley says the removal of Bashir in 2019 appeared to bring hope of an end to the persecution of Christians in Sudan, with the transitional government vowing to abolish laws discriminating against Christians. However, Tinsley reports that since the 2021 coup, church property has been attacked and confiscated, and leaders harassed and detained. Further reports are available from the Waging Peace website.

Lyn Brown MP raised the case of the reported ill-treatment of two Sudanese teenagers, Mohamed Adam and Ahmed al-Nanna, detained by security forces in February 2023, a year after their case was raised by Amnesty International. Andrew Mitchell said “reports of individuals being subjected to ill-treatment, including as part of judicial proceedings, is extremely troubling.” 

Humanitarian situation

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA):

  • 8 million people need assistance in 2023
  • 7 million internally displaced people, including over 350,000 displaced in 2022
  • 45% of funding required ($862 million of £1.9 billion)
  • Malaria, hepatitis, measles and dengue fever outbreaks were reported in 2022

In December 2022 the UN and humanitarian partners launched the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, aiming to respond to the needs of 12.5 million people at a cost of $1.7 billion. More details are available in the 2023 Humanitarian Responses Plan.

Legacy of past conflicts

Sudan continues to address the legacy of the conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and the civil war in South Sudan.

2023 is the 20th anniversary of the start of the conflict in Darfur, and the APPG on Sudan and South Sudan is holding an inquiry into Darfur, chaired by Lord Alton of Liverpool.

Documents to download

Related posts