Recent events in Sudan have highlighted the fragile nature of the transition, and the extent to which it was premature for the Human Rights Council at its recent session to allow scrutiny of Sudan to lapse.
Within weeks, on October 25, military leaders took over the government, bringing an abrupt end to the civilian-led transition in Sudan. All too predictable responses ensued. The junta deployed military and other security forces to clamp down on popular protests, killing at least 12 protesters within the last 10 days, they forcibly disappeared at least 30 government officials and activists, and have repeatedly disrupted internet and telecommunication services.
Sudan’s transition has faced multiple challenges from the get go. Yet, while the progress was slow, transitional authorities had taken some positive measures, including the ratification of key international treaties and moving forward with the prosecutions of a handful of cases of protester killings and efforts to improve the cooperation with the International Criminal Court. The military takeover risks undermining, or outright rolling back these small but important achievements.
While international calls for Sudanese to be allowed to peacefully protest and condemnations of military abuses are important, words need to be matched with actions. The Council needs to urgently establish an independent mechanism to monitor, verify and report on the situation in Sudan with a view to preventing further human rights violations and abuses. Council scrutiny should not be resisted - such a step is crucial to ensuring that the path towards a more rights-abiding Sudan is not blocked for good.