Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Sudan sets up independent panel to investigate deadly crackdown

Commission headed by rights lawyer has three months to report findings on June 3 violence

Sudanese demonstrators hold a vigil at the former sit-in site near the armed forces headquarters in Khartoum on October 17, 2019. AFP
Sudanese demonstrators hold a vigil at the former sit-in site near the armed forces headquarters in Khartoum on October 17, 2019. AFP

Sudan has appointed a commission to investigate the violent dispersal of protesters camped outside the armed forces headquarters that left scores dead.

Veteran rights lawyer Nabil Adib will head the commission, which will have broad powers including the right to summon officials and to access official documents and medical and security reports. It will report to the government in three months, but can ask for one-month extensions depending on the progress it makes, according to an announcement by the SUNA state news agency late on Sunday. The other members include lawyers and security officials.

The crackdown on June 3 ended nearly two months of protests outside the armed forces headquarters in Khartoum. The sit-in began on April 6 to pressure the military to remove authoritarian leader Omar Al Bashir following nearly four months of street protests against his 29-year rule. The military removed Mr Al Bashir on April 11, but the sit-in continued to force the generals who succeeded him to hand over power to civilians.

Nearly 130 people were killed as the sit-in was dispersed by security forces, according to the pro-democracy movement that arose from the uprising against Mr Al Bashir. Authorities have put the death toll at less than 90. The commission's mandate includes determining the number of people killed as well as identifying who was responsible for the operation. It will also determine the number of wounded and missing, according to the Sudanese news agency. The commission can enlist the support of the African Union.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group that orchestrated the protests against Mr Al Bashir, welcomed the formation of the commission, saying in a statement that it was “the first brick” in the structure of a fair investigation that would eventually identify the culprits and bring them to justice.

An independent investigation of the June 3 violence was part of a power-sharing agreement signed in August between the military and the pro-democracy movement called the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Updated: October 21, 2019 02:41 PM

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