Sudan: killing of HRDs & threats of sexual violence against WHRDs in West Darfur (joint communication)

The following is based on a communication written by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and another UN expert to the Government of Sudan on 18 October 2023. The communication remained confidential for 60 days before being made public, giving the Government time to reply. Regrettably, the Government did not reply within this timeframe. If a reply is received, it will be posted on the UN Special Procedures communications database.

Since the sending of the communication, the human rights situation in Sudan has worsened as the conflict has deepened. In December 2023, the war spread to Wad Madani, where many HRDs and thousands of other people from areas already rocked by the conflict had sought shelter. The Special Rapporteur will continue to follow the situation for defenders in the country.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.

Read the full communication


Topic: the killing of human rights defenders in El Geneina, West Darfur, and threats of sexual violence against women human rights defenders in the region.

Mr. Khidir Sulieman was a human rights defender and Head of the human rights organisation Afkar. He was also a member of the Darfur Bar Association and had worked for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Darfur.


On 11 June 2023, Mr. Sulieman was killed while trying to leave his home in El Geneina. He had received death threats from militia members prior to the fatal attack.

At least five other human rights defenders, including lawyers and members of the Darfur Bar Association, as well as human rights monitors, were killed in El Geneina in the two weeks prior to the attack on Mr. Sulieman. Many were attacked in their homes alongside their family members after receiving threats, with several of the killings attributed to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

In July 2023, a woman human rights defender was killed after she was targeted at her home in El Geneina by RSF members. Across June and July 2023, at least two women human rights defenders were forced to flee the region after being threatened with sexual violence, including rape, with one of the women human rights defenders explicitly told she would be targeted if she continued to report on human rights violations.


In the communication, we condemn and express extreme concern at the killing of Mr. Sulieman and other human rights defenders in El Geneina. We underline our grave concern that the defenders may have been individually targeted as a result of their work documenting human rights violations and supporting victims in the context of the widespread violence resulting from the ongoing power struggle in the Sudan. We further condemn the alleged threats of sexual violence made against women human rights defenders in El Geneina, with the severity of the risks demonstrated by the reported killing of their fellow woman human rights defender in July. We emphasize our strong fear that other human rights defenders in the country, in particular women human rights defenders in marginalised areas, may be at high risk of attack, and urge the Government of Sudan to take immediate measures to protect them and their families.


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