Sudan 'framework agreement' defers vital issues to later talks, HRW says

Sudan 'framework agreement' defers vital issues to later talks, HRW says
Human Rights Watch said the agreement in Sudan sets out basic principles and government structures, though 'defers five key contentious issues', such as transitional justice and security sector reform, to a second round of discussions.
3 min read
13 December, 2022
Sudan's 'framework agreement' was signed last week [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency/Getty]

Sudan's recent "framework agreement" for rescuing the country's troubled democratic transition defers several vital issues, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a pro-democracy coalition that made up the civilian element of the nation's former transitional government, signed the deal last week with military leaders and other political groups.

HRW said in a press release that the agreement sets out basic principles and government structures, but defers five key contentious issues - including transitional justice and security sector reform - to a second round of discussions.

HRW Sudan researcher Mohamed Osman said: "The last 14 months have shown how widespread impunity fosters more killings and other abuses.

"Accountability is critical for the future and should not be swept under the rug."

The deal was signed more than a year after the army toppled Sudan's transitional government in October 2021, with 122 people having been killed in demonstrations since then.

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HRW called on Sudan's political actors and international partners to make progress on human rights and accountability for serious abuses core to any new transition.

"This includes an end to the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters, releasing arbitrarily detained protesters, and taking concrete steps to ensure accountability for serious abuses," the rights watchdog said.

The framework deal says civilians will form the incoming transitional government and be have authority over all government forces.

"The vaguely worded agreement lays out general principles for the formation of transitional institutions and reiterates commitments to promote freedoms and rights and accountability, and to reform security forces," HRW said.

"The agreement, however, fails to spell out any clear time frames, details, or benchmarks for justice and security sector reform, stating that plans are to be discussed at a second stage."

The FFC argues that deferring justice and security reform plans permits additional discussions with stakeholders and relatives of the dead.

However, the deal, which Sudan's pro-democracy resistance committees oppose, doesn't give details on the process or list benchmarks or consequences if these reforms aren't realised, HRW said.

Military government leaders have said all violations since the October 2021 coup would be examined, however, HRW says there have been "no meaningful steps to hold those responsible to account".

The US-based rights group said it had seen a draft proposal stating junta leaders asked for immunity for violations that occurred after the coup and that only subordinates will face prosecution.

The FCC has denied it had agreed to "grant full or partial judicial immunities" to anyone, according to a report on the Sudan Tribune website.

"This cannot be done without the consultation and broad acceptance of stakeholders," it added.