KHARTOUM - More than 100 Sudanese lawyers in black legal gowns demonstrated on Thursday in defence of free speech, an AFP reporter said, on the 13th day of unprecedented public protests.
"Demonstration is a constitutional right," said one of their banners, while another declared "Freedom of expression is a legal right."
Eighty legal practitioners in Khartoum held the silent protest by standing outside a courthouse for about an hour, while another 40 carried out a similar action in the capital's twin city of Omdurman, the reporter observed.
They also held signs objecting to high food prices.
Rights groups say scores of people have been arrested since the protests against inflation began on June 16 at the University of Khartoum.
After President Omar al-Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel, the protests spread to include a cross-section of people in numerous locations throughout the capital and other parts of Sudan.
Demonstrators in groups of 100 or 200 have burned tyres, thrown stones and blocked roads in a growing call for regime change, which has been met by police tear gas.
In a rare show of restraint, riot police stood by while the lawyers protested.
On Sunday, lawyers took to the streets for a protest in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, but some were arrested, witnesses said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the government on Thursday to avoid "heavy-handed suppression" of protesters, who say they will intensify their actions on Friday.
Rights groups say scores of people have been arrested.
Pillay called on Sudan "to immediately and unconditionally release those who have been detained for merely exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.
"Reports of ill treatment in detention are very worrying and must be investigated promptly."
She also urged protesters to ensure that no violence or damage to property takes place during the demonstrations.
Protests by tens of thousands in 1964 and 1985 helped bring about the downfall of the Sudanese regimes then in office.
Bashir, an army officer who seized power on June 30, 1989, has called the latest protests small-scale and not comparable to the Arab Spring uprisings against regional strongmen over the past year.