The Sudanese Revolution

Sudan: Activists targeted with arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention whilst the media remains restricted amidst crackdown on December 2018 peaceful protest.

(17 January 2019) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies has received information that the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and police have since December 19 2018, carried out a mass campaign of arrests targeting activist including, doctors, human rights defenders, journalists, professors and political party leaders with arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, in some cases incommunicado, for their participation or suspected participation in the protests that occurred across Sudan. Some of the detainees were subsequently released while others remain in NISS and police custody without charge or access to lawyers or family visits. Female detainees have been subjected to a thorough search while in detention centers and many have been asked about their tribes or where they come from. Many doctors in the cities of Atbara, Khartoum, and Obaid were arrested following a peaceful strike organized to show solidarity with protesters. ACJPS has received reliable information from one of the released detainees on 25 October 2018, that one of the doctors was allegedly assaulted and tortured by NISS whilst in detention. In Korodofan state, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Osman was shot during a police raid to arrest and summon doctors. Many doctors were arrested from within the hospital. In Omdurman, a doctor was injured and four other protesters were killed after police fired teargas at protesters who were marching to deliver a letter calling for the resignation of President Omar Al Bashir to the Sudanese National Assembly in Omdurman on 9 January 2019. On 11 January 2019, the NISS of Khartoum arrested Dr AlFatih Omer Alsaid (m), the director of Toga Hospital after he announced that Toga hospital was providing free medical services to injured protesters. On 26 December 2018, Dr Mohamed Kamal was arrested and subjected to six-month detention under the emergency law in North Kordofan and has been transferred to Al-Obeid prison.  Doctors in conjunction with the Sudanese Medical Council, have since the protest commenced provided medical services and released reports on protesters wounded and deceased.
ACJPS is deeply concerned about the continued incommunicado detention of human rights defender, Osman Salih under the emergency law. Mr. Osman Salih was detained on 24 December 2018 from his home in Al Obeid, North Kordofan state for his involvement in the protest. On 31 December 2018, he was transferred to Port Sudan prison of Red Sea State from Al-Obeid prison in North Kordofan state and was informed that he was being held under the emergency law for six months. This is the second time in 2018 that Mr. Salih is being arbitrarily detained under emergency law in connection with protests. Mr. Salih was earlier arrested on 10 January 2018  during the anti-austerity measures protest and detained at NISS section of Alobid prison for six months under Emergency law of 2001. He was released on 19 March 2018 and was allegedly subjected to torture while in custody.  Similarly, is the arrest and detention of Mr Mohamed Bagan, an advocate and human rights defender who was arrested on 25 December 2018, for participating in the protest. He is being detained incommunicado, for three months in Eldien, East Darfur under the emergency law.  On 31 December 2018, two human rights defenders, Ms Samia Argawi and Bakri Gabriel who have been providing legal aid to protesters detained by police were arrested in Khartoum. Both are being detained incommunicado in the political section of the NISS. ACJPS has been informed that those in incommunicado detention have not had access to their lawyers or family members. On 9 January 2019, the NISS of Nyala, South Darfur, arrested six human right defenders whilst carrying out peaceful protest in solidarity with detainees in other Sudanese towns in front of Central Court of Nyala. We are concerned about the physical and psychological wellbeing of detainees as we fear they may be subjected to torture or ill treatment given the well the documented use of torture and ill treatment by NISS against detainees. In this report, ACJPS documents the arrest and detention of 30 human rights defenders, some of whom were arrested more than once since 19 December 2018.
ACJPS is also concerned about the frantic campaign launched by NISS against the press by imposing strict prior-publication censorship, monitoring the content of daily newspapers and banning of Journalist from writing. On 20 December 2018, newspapers were forced to reprint the copies of publications which had protests related headlines. Newspapers that refused to comply with instructions to reprint their editions such as Altyaar newspaper which is considered loyal to the ruling party, was denied distribution. Altyaar newspaper was also forced by NISS on 3 January 2018 to remove the article of Journalist, shamail Elnoor from the issue of the day. Ms. Elnoor was earlier arrested and released with group of Journalists from in front of Altyaar newspaper house on 27 December 2018. Also on 3 January 2018, Mohamed Abdel Almajid(m), a Journalist with Al-Siha Political newspaper and Goan Sport Newspaper was informed by both newspapers that he has been banned from writing by NISS because of an article he published criticizing the ruling party. On 25 December 2018, the government national media corporation stopped the work of one of its employee, a journalist who had published protest related articles on social media platforms. Four Journalists, Sarah Daifallah, Omi Abdelrazik, Khalid Fathi, and Iman were on 6 December 2018 arrested and allegedly physically assaulted while in NISS custody, their phones were also confiscated and inspected.  This is not the first time the media has been targeted by the security forces while covering protest. In January 2018, NISS targeted opposition affiliated journalist that covered the anti-austerity measures protest with arrest and detention and  prevented  8 newspapers from distribution. The continued arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists in response to their reporting on peaceful protests violates right to freedom of expression and free press as provided in article 39 of the Sudanese Interim National Constitution of 2005 and International and Regional human rights treaties that Sudan is a state party to. Media restriction by the authorities is usually aimed at silencing decent and preventing the coverage and publication of information related to the demonstrations.
Although Articles 39 and 40 of the 2005 Sudanese Interim Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and assembly respectively, Sudanese authorities have progressively and deliberately continued violating these rights through arrest, detention and prosecution of protesters for malicious and fabricated charges usually under Articles 69 (disturbance of public peace) and 77 (public nuisance) of Sudanese Criminal Code  and subjecting protesters to long detention periods under the Emergency laws. In  our recent report, we reported the placement of 17 protesters on six months detention period in Shala Prison  in North Darfur under the emergency law. Protesters in Al-Tartar in South Kordfan State and Al-Deain in East Darfur State were detained for three months under the emergency laws in December 2018. In Sudan, only the states of Khartoum and Red Sea have not applied the emergency laws which usually authorize preventive arrest and detention on the basis of vague grounds without time limits to the detention.
Article 51 of the Sudanese National Security and Intelligence Law of 2010 which permits investigative detentions for up to 4 and half months is  being used against the Peaceful  protesters in Khartoum, Wad Madani, Port Sudan, Atbara, and Sinar to arrest innocent protesters including twenty professors of Khartoum University and Al Nelein University as well as members of opposition parties, members of trade  union secretariat, Teachers associations , Doctors, Human Rights defenders , Lawyers, and Journalists.
ACJPS deplores the targeting of human rights defenders, journalist and other activist and calls on the Government of Sudan to respect the people’s rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression as guaranteed in international standards and UN treaties ratified by Sudan. We strongly urge security agencies to stop harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens, including human rights defenders, doctors and journalists and others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The authorities must guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and journalist are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment. We further urge the Government to release those in detention, in absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international standards, and grant those in detention access to courts to challenge their detention.
Sudanese authorities have continued to use force including firing of live ammunition to disperse peaceful protests around Sudan resulting in several deaths and injury of Sudanese citizens during the December 2018– January 2019 protest that was sparked off by the increase in prices of basic commodities and fuel, resulting from the austerity measures imposed under the 2018 Sudanese Budget. The demonstration which initially denounced the rising cost of living and shortages of food and fuel quickly developed into an anti-government rally calling for the resignation of President Omar Al Bashir by 31 December 2018, following a violent response from the Sudanese authorities. State security responded to the peaceful protests with lethal force. African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies received reliable information of the involvement of unidentified individuals wearing masks  and reportedly affiliated with the ruling party who have targeted protestors with force and used tear gas to disperse protests. By 31 December, at least 13 protesters had been killed and over 50 injured including minors. More than 80 people have been arrested and detained since the protest begun on December 19 2018, including lawyers, politicians, activist, advocates, doctors and students among others.
This is the second time in 2018 that security agencies have targeted activist with arrest and detention during a protest. In January 2018, following a country wide protest against austerity measures imposed under 2018 budget, hundreds of protesters including activists were arrested and detained incommunicado.
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