The Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan protects the rights to life and to freedom from torture. Article 28 provides that:
Every human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his person, which shall be protected by law; no one shall arbitrarily be deprived of his life.
Article 33 stipulates that: "No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
Under Article 40(1), the right to peaceful assembly shall be guaranteed.
According to Article 148(1), the Police
is a regular service force whose mission is to maintain law and order; its service shall be open to all Sudanese to reflect the diversity and multiplicity of the Sudanese society; it shall discharge its duties with impartiality and integrity in compliance with the law and the nationally and internationally accepted standards.
The Constitution does not otherwise regulate the use of force by the police or other law enforcement agency.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||Signatory|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||N/A|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||N/A|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Signatory*|
* Sudan has declared that it will not become a state party to the ICC Statute.
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||Signatory|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||N/A|
|Malabo Protocol on Amendments to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Not party|
Police Use of Force
In addition to the regular police and the Sudan People's Armed Forces, the Government maintains an external security force, an internal security force, and a militia known as the Popular Defense Forces (PDF).Sharanjeet Parmar, "An Overview of the Sudanese Legal System and Legal Research", January 2007, at: http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Sudan.html#_Khartoum_Public_Order_Act%201998.Corporal punishment is widely used by the so-called Public Order Police.
To the extent it is regulated by domestic legislation, Sudan has highly permissive rules on police use of force, notably in the context of assemblies. According to Article 125 of the 2003 Code of Criminal Procedure, related to offences against public safety, if a crowd refuses to disperse following an order from the Public Prosecutor, or from a police official, to do so, law enforcement agents may proceed to disperse the crowd, with the least use of force possible. Firearms may only be used with the permission of the Prosecutor, and in no case should they be used with the intent to kill.
There is no civilian oversight body for the police in Sudan, who in any event enjoy de jure immunity from prosecution for acts committed on duty.
Sudan's deposed president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is now in prison in Sudan, has been indicted and an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court to face charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2018 Concluding Observations on Sudan, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern
about allegations that police and security officers use excessive force to disperse demonstrations. This reportedly happened, for example, during crackdowns on anti-austerity protests in January 2018, when live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas were reportedly used against demonstrators, resulting in the death and injury of several protesters.
The Committee called on Sudan to
ensure that the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials are implemented, through measures to ensure that law enforcement personnel do not use excessive force during demonstrations and that all such instances of excessive use of force are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.
In early July 2019, amid the violent repression of peaceful protests in towns and cities across Sudan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the Sudanese authorities to launch proper independent investigations into all acts of violence and allegations of excessive use of force, including attacks on hospitals.
Sudan is a signatory but not a state party to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. Its membership of the African Union was suspended in June 2019 as a result of the violence by state agents against peaceful protesters.
Abdel Hadi and others v. Sudan (2014)
In this case, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights stated that:
police officers in Sudan generally enjoy immunity which can only be lifted after a preliminary investigation… there is no established procedure or right to compel the Prosecution Attorney to commence an investigation where there is an allegation of wrongdoing by the police…. The Commission considers the granting of such blanket immunities to police officers as an impediment to the exhaustion of local remedies since it is not disputed that there is no legal obligation on the part of the police hierarchy to lift the immunities of these officers on demand.”Abdel Hadi and others v. Sudan, App. No. 368/09, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, para. 47.
The majority of cases in Sudan are undocumented, making it difficult to report on the country’s national jurisprudence surrounding police or prison officer use of force. However, in a report submitted to the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan in May 2017, the Sudanese Government stated that, from 1 January 2016 to 31 March 2017, 46 police officers and Sudanese armed forces personnel had been disciplined and prosecuted for various crimes, including murder and injuries.Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, UN doc. A/HRC/36/63, 27 July 2017, para. 75.