U.S. Places Sanctions On Sudan’s Central Reserve Police Over Protest Crackdown

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the placement of sanctions on Sudan’s Central Reserve Police (CRP) after multiple reports of egregious human rights violations. The U.S. has accused the CRP of utilizing cruel and unusual violence in response to protestors, including but not limited to the use of fatal force, harassment, intimidation, and sexual assault. While Sudan has undergone 4 years of civil unrest, the most recent protests sparked in response to the military coup initiated by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25th, 2021. 

On March 22nd, 2022, Brian Nelson, the Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence stated: “Since the Oct. 25 military takeover, Sudan’s Central Reserve Police has used excessive force and violence intended to silence civilian activists and protesters.” Nelson also officially condemned the actions of the CRP on behalf of the U.S. Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Secretary Blinken reaffirmed the condemnation of the CRP, stating: “We remain poised to use all tools at our disposal to support the Sudanese people in their pursuit of a democratic, human rights-respecting, and prosperous Sudan.”

Employing targeted sanctions against the CRP is an effective policy measure by the U.S. that will impact the perpetrators of violence while safeguarding civilians from the negative ramifications of economic sanctions. According to Al Jazeera, the Magnitsky sanctions will freeze any U.S. assets of the CRP, and prevent U.S. contractors from conducting business with the CRP. The Magnitsky sanctions, in conjunction with the public condemnations issued by Blinken and Nelson, serve two basic purposes. First, forceful statements issued by U.S. public officials apply political pressure on the Sudanese government to address the allegations made against the CRP. Second, by engaging the media via public statements, the U.S. has increased the likelihood that other states will condemn and sanction the CRP. 

The violent actions committed by the CRP in the 2000s War in Darfur show that the CRP has a history of using excessive force in response to opposition movements. During the War in Darfur, the CRP was used to suppress rebel movements, and in modern times, the CRP is used to suppress civilian protests. According to Jurist, the death of two civilian protesters on January 17th, 2022 strongly influenced the decision of the U.S. Treasury Department to implement the Magnitsky sanctions. 

While the combination of the Magnitsky sanctions and public condemnation is a strong step by the U.S., future efforts should attempt to engage both civilian protesters and the Sudanese government in open dialogue to discuss all conflicts. Additionally, the U.S. should provide financial and medical aid to the Sudanese victims of the CRP. Specifically, any future aid and negotiations should consider the gendered aspect of sexual and physical violence committed against Sudanese women. Any negotiations must include legal and financial recourse for victims of sexual and physical violence committed by the CRP. To ensure the ability of Sudanese civilians to pursue democratic governance and state stability, all actors must ensure the preservation of women’s suffrage in Sudan. To prevent further sexual and gendered violence, Sudanese security forces should be required to undergo a strict vetting process and sensitivity training.