The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, expressed grave concern over the situation in Sudan, following reports that security forces committed sexual violence and sexual harassment against women and girls during demonstrations in the capital, Khartoum, last Sunday.
In a Thursday statement, the UN representative said she was deeply concerned about credible reports of grave human rights violations, including the use of rape and gang rape of women and girls, as a means to disperse protesters last Sunday.
The UN official added that these incidents remind “us of allegations of sexual violence during the suppression of demonstrators in Khartoum in the dispersal of the General Command sit-in on 3rd June 2019.”
Lack of Criminal Accountability
The Special Representative noted that some survivors of sexual violence filed judicial complaints and sought immediate medical assistance after the incidents, but others preferred not to report or assistance due to social stigma.
The Special Representative considered that the lack of criminal accountability for these crimes could prevent survivors from applying for redress and hinder peace-building and recovery efforts in the country.
Patten called for the immediate and complete cessation of all human rights violations and abuses, including sexual violence.
She called on the authorities to take effective measures to ensure easy access to medical, legal and psycho-social support for survivors.
The UN official stressed that the perpetrators of these human rights violations must be identified and prosecuted, renewing the call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a prompt, independent and comprehensive investigation into the allegations.
Preventing sexual violence
The Special Representative called on the international community, including members of the Security Council, to demand an end to all forms of violence and intimidation against Sudanese civilians, including sexual violence.
The UN official stressed the need for security forces to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and to act in full respect of international laws and standards regulating the use of force.