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BRIEFING NOTES: (EN/AR) - (1) Tunisia; (2) Sudan

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Date: 17 May 2024

Subject: (1) Tunisia

(1) Tunisia

We are very concerned by the increased targeting in Tunisia of migrants, mostly from south of the Sahara, and individuals and organisations working to assist them. At the same time, we are witnessing a rise in the use of dehumanising and racist rhetoric against Black migrants and Black Tunisians.

Our Office has recorded incidents of arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists critical of the Government, as well as its migration policies.

Reported raids in the past week on the Tunisia Bar Association undermine the rule of law and violate international standards on the protection of the independence and function of lawyers. Such actions constitute forms of intimidation and harassment.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk urges the authorities to respect and safeguard freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Tunisia is a party. Furthermore, the rule of law must be upheld, and those arbitrarily detained, including for defending the rights of migrants and for combating racial discrimination, released. The human rights of all migrants must be protected, and xenophobic hate speech must stop.

(2) Sudan

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk is horrified by the escalating violence in El-Fasher, in Darfur, where hostilities between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces – backed by their respective allied armed groups – are having a deeply devastating toll on civilians.

At least 58 civilians are reported to have been killed and 213 others injured in El-Fasher since fighting dramatically escalated in the North Darfur town last week.

Concerned by the escalation in El-Fasher and the continued impact of wider fighting across Sudan, the High Commissioner on Tuesday this week held separate phone calls with Lt-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Commander of the Rapid Support Forces. He urged them both to act immediately – and publicly – to de-escalate the situation.

He also called on them to put aside entrenched positions and take specific, concrete steps to cease hostilities and to ensure the effective protection of civilians – as is their obligation under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and consistent with their commitments under the Jeddah Declaration, agreed in May 2023.

The High Commissioner warned both commanders that fighting in El-Fasher, where more than 1.8 million residents and internally displaced people are currently encircled and at imminent risk of famine, would have a catastrophic impact on civilians, and would deepen intercommunal conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences.

He reminded the commanders of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure strict compliance with the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution and to put an end to any ongoing violations, as well as ensure accountability for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by their respective forces and allies.

He also urged them to redouble efforts towards reaching a negotiated solution, including by promptly resuming ceasefire negotiations, and to facilitate comprehensive access to humanitarian aid in areas under their forces’ respective control.

The High Commissioner had last spoken directly, in person, to the two commanders in November 2022, during an official visit to Sudan.

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