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Residential buildings damaged in fighting in Khartoum, Sudan, April 20, 2023. © 2023 AP Photo/Marwan Ali

(Nairobi) – Human Rights Watch released a question and answer document today that explains how international humanitarian law applies to the armed conflict in Sudan between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) under Gen. Abdelfattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an independent armed force, under Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as “Hemedti.”

“From the start of the fighting, both sides to the conflict in Sudan have shown deadly disregard for the civilian population,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s critically important for the warring parties to fully abide by the laws of war and respect human rights.”

The Q&A addresses aspects of international humanitarian law (the laws of war) governing the armed conflict between the SAF and the RSF, and various non-state armed groups and militias. It summarizes the main international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international criminal law issues arising from the fighting.

The document focuses on the international legal requirements to protect civilians and to treat people in custody humanely. It also addresses restrictions on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the legal limits on internet restrictions, and bringing violators of international criminal law to justice, among other issues.

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