On Feb. 22, Sudan’s embattled president, Omar al-Bashir, declared a one-year, nationwide state of emergency. He subsequently issued five decrees to implement the declaration that collectively curtail fundamental rights to a degree that is unprecedented in the post-independence history of Sudan.
The state of emergency came during peaceful protests — started by the Sudanese people late last year, which now pose a credible threat to the 30-year rule of Bashir’s National Congress Party. Bashir, already wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for atrocities against his own people, clearly recognizes the precariousness of his position following his government’s conspicuous failure to stem the protests through use of excessive force.
The true objective of Bashir’s declaration of a state of emergency appears to be stopping the protests that are in their fourth month. The government’s argument — that the declaration aims to address the economic crisis of the country — is belied by the targeting of fundamental rights being exercised by the protesters, including their right to peaceful assembly, gatherings, processions and labor strikes. Moreover, the establishment of emergency prosecution offices and courts violate the right to a fair trial, which is guaranteed under international law and the Sudanese constitution.