UN rights chief asks Sudan’s generals to stop ‘senseless violence’


The United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk, has described the situation in Sudan as “heartbreaking” and called on the two warring generals to stop sexual violence and spare the lives of civilians.

Mr Turk said the recent fighting in Sudan had killed hundreds of civilians and forced more than one million people to flee the violence.

Mr Turk, who met with both generals in Sudan in November 2022, said his office had received reports of fighter jets and clashes in the capital Khartoum overnight despite a ceasefire.

He told a Geneva press briefing where he addressed crises from around the world that “many civilians are virtually besieged in areas where fighting has been relentless.


“General (Abdel Fattah) al-Burhan, General (Mohamed Hamdan) Dagalo, you must issue clear instructions, in no uncertain terms, to all those under your command that there is zero tolerance for sexual violence.

“Civilians must be spared, and you must stop this senseless violence now,” he said.

He said his office had documented at least 25 cases of sexual violence so far and that the actual number was likely to be much higher.

In the same speech, he also expressed concern about shrinking civic space worldwide, mentioning China in particular.

Asked how he would follow up on a report by his predecessor last year which found that China may have committed crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, he said: “We are on it, and we are going to continuously work on it”.

China vigorously denies any abuses in Xinjiang.

Mr Turk also voiced broader concerns about the rapid advances in artificial intelligence, specifically the generative AI technology behind ChatGPT, describing both the opportunities and risks as “immense”.

“Human rights need to be baked into AI throughout its entire lifecycle, and governments and companies need to do more to ensure that guardrails are in place,” he said.