Human rights workers detained in Sudan

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has brought attention to the arrest and continued detention without charge by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) between 23 June and 12 July 2012 in Khartoum of eleven human rights workers.

The arrest of human rights workers, lawyers and journalists has taken place in the context of a wave of arbitrary arrests and detentions across Sudan, in response to popular mass protests calling for regime change.

The protests that have been staged throughout Sudan over recent weeks followed an initial protest held on 16 June at Khartoum University in response to government austerity measures, inflation and price increases.

The protests spread to other locations within Khartoum and the country including Omdurman, Madani, Sinnar, Al Gadarif, Port Sudan, Al Obeid, Kassala and Hasaheisa. The popular message has transformed from one of concern for government austerity measures to calls for regime change, particularly on Elbow Licking Friday.

A wide cross-section of Sudanese society took to the streets, including members of the Democratic Lawyers Front, students, youth movements, doctors, journalists and women’s rights workers.

The ACJPS has documented the arrest and detention of over 290 individuals since the first protest held in Khartoum on 16 June. This includes at least 37 human rights workers who have subsequently been released.

Activists allege that the actual number of individuals arrested and detained in the context of the protests throughout Sudan since that date has exceeded 1,500.

ACJPS is concerned about the continued detention of eleven people active in human rights work. Seven were were arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) between 23 June and 12 July 2012 and remain without charge in NISS custody in Khartoum. They are:

  • Mohamed Al-Usbat, journalist and activist. He was arrested at 10.20pm on 12 July from his home in Khartoum.
  • Nahid Gabralla, women’s rights activist and member of Sima Organisation for Child Rights. She was arrested on 3 July from the Sima Organisation for Child Rights office, in Khartoum North. 
  • Amira Osman, women’s rights activist, member of "No to Women's Oppression". She was arrested on 22 June together with 5 others during a protest in the Al Riyadh district of Khartoum. All were released after 5 hours but Amira Osman was re-arrested from her home five days later, on 27 June.
  • Faisal Shabou, women’s rights activist, member of Sima Organisation for Child Rights. He was arrested on 24 June from the Sima Organisation for Child Rights office in Khartoum North. 
  • Rashida Shams, member of Girifna and member of "No to Women's Oppression". She was arrested on 18 June with 33 other youth activists from the Haag political party’s offices in Khartoum, during a meeting of 8 youth groups. All detainees were subsequently released but two of the activists were re-arrested, including Rashida Shams, who was re-arrested on 23 June.
  • Tarig El Sheikh, lawyer, member of Darfur Bar Association. He was arrested on 3 July from his office in Khartoum and is currently detained by NISS in Kober prison, Khartoum Bahri. 
  • Marwa el Tigany, journalist and human rights activist. She was arrested on 3 July together with two other women from an internet café in Al Haj Youssef, Khartoum. The three women were witnessed being taken in a security vehicle. One of the women, Shima Adil, an Egyptian journalist working for the Egyptian newspaper Al Watan, was released on 16 July.

In addition the following people who work on cultural rights were arrested on 26 June by NISS from their homes in Al Gadarif, Eastern Sudan and remain in detention without charge:

  • Al Said Mustafa. He is the Chairperson of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum.
  • Ramzi Yahia. He is a lawyer and an affiliate of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum. He was arrested with 6 other people on 23 June. All have subsequently been released but Ramzi Yahia was re-arrested on 26 June.
  • Abdulgadir Mahmoud. He is an affiliate of Al Shiroog Cultural Forum and was arrested on 26 June. 

In addition Radwan Daoud, member of Girifna, was arrested by NISS on 3 July with 14 others in Khartoum by NISS. He and the others have subsequently been transferred to police custody and are at risk of an unfair trial. Mr. Daoud and the 14 other detainees have been charged under Articles 63 (calling for opposition to public authority by use of violence or criminal force) 65 (criminal and terrorist organisations), 67 (rioting), 69 (disturbance of public peace), 71 (polluting the environment) and 72 (exposing ways and means of transport and communication to danger) of the Sudanese Penal Code 1991. They have all been refused bail.

ACJPS is concerned that these charges do not reflect the peaceful protests and activities that Radwan Daoud and those arrested with him have reportedly engaged in, giving rise to concerns that the charges are politically motivated and that the detainees will not face a fair trial.

Although information on the conditions of their detention is not available, ACJPS has serious concerns for the welfare of all the detainees. One female human rights defender who was arrested by NISS during a demonstration held on 13 July after Friday prayers in Wad Nubawi (Omdurman) and released at 1am the following day, was reportedly lined up alongside other detainees with her face against the wall and beaten on her back.

ACJPS calls on the Government of Sudan to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all detainees and to order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international law and standards or, if such charges exist, to bring them before an impartial, independent and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.

This news report is based on a press release by Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre For Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).



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