UN rights chief calls for 'independent' investigation of Sudan protest killings
The UN rights chief on Friday called on Sudanese authorities to launch an independent investigation after security forces killed at least nine demonstrators attending a mass protest demanding an end to military rule.
Michelle Bachelet said in a statement that she was "alarmed" at Thursday's killings, including of a 15-year-old child, "even after the police had announced they would not use lethal force to disperse the demonstrators".
The mass demonstration, which saw tens of thousands turn out across the country, was met with the deadliest violence so far this year.
The death toll from protest-related violence has reached 113 since the military takeover led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last October.
The latest fatality was reported on Friday after a demonstrator died from wounds sustained at a June 24 rally, according to pro-democracy medics.
"So far, no-one has been held accountable for these deaths," Bachelet said, pointing to reports indicating that during Thursday's demonstrations, "joint security forces used live bullets, as well as tear gas and water cannon against protesters".
"According to medical sources, most of those killed were shot in the chest, head, and back," she said.
The UN rights chief also decried that security forces had 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," she said.
"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," she insisted.
"Lethal force is a measure of last resort and only in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or of serious injury".
Bachelet highlighted that the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are protected under international law.
"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," she said.
"Victims, survivors, and their families have a right to truth, justice and reparations".