The Sudanese security forces must immediately stop the use of excessive and unlawful force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, after a student died of gunshot wounds sustained during a demonstration at the University of Khartoum.
Ali Abaker Mussa Idris, a third-year economics student, died in hospital after security forces used tear gas and opened fire with live ammunition to disperse a protest he was taking part in at the university this afternoon. Another student has been severely injured, and a further 110 students were reportedly arrested at the protest, which was against a recent surge in violence in Darfur that has left an estimated 50,000 people displaced.
"Credible accounts by eyewitnesses at the University of Khartoum protest point to police and National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) officers using tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters. The authorities must rein in the security forces and prevent them from using such excessive force in violation of international law and standards," said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director of Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International.
In particular, international standards are clear that firearms must not be used for dispersing protesters. They may be used only in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury, and only when less extreme measures are insufficient to achieve this.
"The authorities must launch a prompt and impartial investigation into the events at the University of Khartoum and must ensure that all those responsible for this and other unlawful use of force are held accountable in criminal and disciplinary proceedings," said Netsanet Belay.
"Any members of the security forces responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted under criminal law without resort to the death penalty."
The Sudanese authorities have routinely used excessive force against mostly peaceful demonstrations over the last two years. Amnesty International has previously reported on police forces using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets at close range against demonstrators.