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Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the killing of at least nine protesters in Sudan

I am alarmed by the killing of at least nine protesters by security forces in Sudan yesterday – including a 15-year-old child – even after the police had announced they would not use lethal force to disperse the demonstrators.

Reports indicate the joint security forces used live bullets, as well as tear gas and water cannon against protesters numbering in the many thousands in cities and towns across the country.

The latest killings, which took place at a time when the mobile and internet communications had been shut down across the country, bring the number of people killed by security forces in the context of protests since the coup last year to 113. So far, no-one has been held accountable for these deaths.

According to medical sources, most of those killed were shot in the chest, head, and back. Security forces also arrested at least 355 protesters across the country, including at least 39 women and a considerable number of children.

I again stress to the Sudanese authorities that force should be used only when strictly necessary and in full compliance with the principles of legality, necessity, precaution, and proportionality. In no case is force permissible to dissuade or intimidate protesters from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, or to threaten them with harm for doing so. Lethal force is a measure of last resort and only in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.

The right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs are protected under international human rights law, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a State Party.

I call on authorities to conduct an independent, transparent, thorough, and impartial investigation into the response by the security forces in accordance with relevant international standards, including the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death, and to hold those responsible to account. Victims, survivors, and their families have a right to truth, justice and reparations.

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