Six individuals from South Kordofan detained incommunicado after calls for memorial events to mark 2013 protest killings

23/10/2014
Press release

ACJPS and FIDH call upon Sudanese authorities to immediately grant access to six people who have been detained incommunicado and without charge since their arrests by Sudanese security services on 2 and 3 October 2014 in Abu Jehiba town, South Kordofan state. There are concerns for the safety of those individuals who were transferred to Khartoum on an unknown date and have been denied access to their families or lawyers. The arrests are thought to have been made in connection with the appearance of graffiti in Abu Jehiba town calling for citizens not to forget the deaths of civilians who were killed during protests throughout the country in September and October 2013.

Five other individuals protesting their detention outside the offices of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Abu Jehiba town were detained by the NISS for three days before being transferred to police custody and released on bail, charged with disturbance of the public peace and public nuisance under Sudan’s 1991 Penal Code.

Such charges are routinely used to curb the rights of peaceful demonstrators whose only crimes appear to be criticising government policies and questioning restrictions on fundamental rights ”, said Katherine Perks, ACJPS Programme Director.

The detentions in South Kordofan followed the arrest of at least 59 other people in Sudan’s capital on 20-25 September in connection with planned memorial events for people killed during protests in 2013. The 59 detainees previously reported by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) have since been released.

Instead of ensuring that those responsible for the 2013 extra-judicial killings of protesters are identified and brought to justice, Sudanese authorities continue their strategy of repression and intimidation so as to ensure that impunity and silence prevail ”, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Detention of six individuals and transfer to NISS custody in Khartoum

The six detainees have been held incommunicado without access to their families or lawyers since their arrests in Abu Jehiba town on 2 and 3 October. Five are thought to have been transferred to a NISS detention facility in Khartoum Bahri on an unknown date. According to information provided by the NISS, the sixth detainee, Mohamed Mukhtar, was transferred to Kober prison in Khartoum, also on an unknown date.

1. Al Daw Kampal Saeed, (m), 25 years of age, student in the Faculty of Agriculture in Sudan University, arrested on 2 October.
2. Mohamed Abdulgafar Saeed, (m), 24 years of age, university graduate, Faculty of Engineering, Sudan University, arrested on 2 October.
3. Al-Busili Salih, (m), 27 years of age, businessman, arrested on 2 October.
4. Ahmed Adam Al-Jarai, (m), 27 years of age, graduate of Finance School, Sudan University, arrested on 2 October.
5. Muaz Al-Jaili Sharbik, (m), 32 years of age, veterinarian, arrested on 2 October.
6. Mohamed Mukhtar, (m), student at West Kordofan University, arrested on 3 October. Transferred to Kober prison in Khartoum on an unknown date.

Although the six detainees have not been charged, the arrests are thought to have been made in connection with graffiti that appeared on walls around Abu Jehiba town calling for the commemoration of people killed during demonstrations that took place in cities throughout Sudan in September and October 2013. At least 185 people were killed last year when security forces used excessive force, including firing live ammunition, to disperse protests. There was also reportedly graffiti around town calling for the reconnection of electrical power supplies to the area, which has been without electricity for almost six months.

The NISS reportedly informed Al-Busili Salih’s family that he would be released shortly when they requested to visit him on 18 October. Mohamed Mukhtar’s family was informed by the NISS that he had been transferred to Kober prison in Khartoum and that they would receive a response to their request to visit him by 20 October 2014. Mr. Mukhtar’s family has yet to receive a response from the NISS.

Arrests and Criminal Charges against five Activists

On 3 October, a group of activists and family members of those arrested organised a peaceful demonstration in front of NISS offices in Abu Jehiba with signs calling for their release. At 8am, five people were arrested by the NISS from the demonstration. Their mobile phones were confiscated and they were interrogated about the organisation of the demonstration and photos taken during the demonstration. They were held in NISS custody for three days before being transferred to police custody, where they were released the same day on bail after being charged under articles 77 (public nuisance) and 69 (disturbance of public peace) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code.

The names of the five people are below.

1. Mohamed Shuga Nasir, (m).
2. Ali Bashir, (m).
3. Alla Eldien Hussein Hamad, (m).
4. Ayman Abdulgafar, (m).
5. Alhaj, (m).

The NISS reportedly refused to return their phones when requested on 11 October.
ACJPS and FIDH are concerned that the five people have been charged with criminal offences for peacefully protesting about the incommunicado detention of others. The criminal offences of public nuisance and disturbance of the public peace are routinely used by the Sudanese police to prevent public assemblies and demonstrations and restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly. ACJPS and FIDH call on the Government of Sudan to reform legislation, including the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code and 1991 Criminal Procedure Act, to enable the full exercise of these freedoms as guaranteed in the 2005 Interim National Constitution and international law commitments made by Sudan.

ACJPS and FIDH call on the Sudanese authorities to guarantee the safety of the six detainees who were transferred to Khartoum, grant them immediate access to their families and lawyers, and order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges.

Under Sudan’s 2010 National Security Act detainees can be detained for up to four and a half months without charge or judicial review. Individuals detained by the NISS are routinely held incommunicado which significantly increases vulnerability to torture and other ill-treatment.

Instead of detaining activists to silence calls for accountability Sudan should order thorough, impartial and effective investigations into the human rights violations committed during protests, hold perpetrators to justice and provide reparation to the victims.

Background

23 September 2014 marked the one year anniversary of the outbreak of demonstrations in cities throughout Sudan. The demonstrations, sparked by the lifting of fuel subsidies on 22 September, were met with excessive force by the Sudanese authorities. Protesters were beaten and fired on with rubber bullets and live ammunition by security forces. At least 185 people were killed, many sustaining bullet wounds to the head and chest, and scores more were injured. Hundreds of people were detained, and numerous activists were arbitrarily detained, tortured and otherwise ill-treated.

On 26 September, ACJPS reported that over five days between the 20 and 25 September, at least 59 people were arrested from the streets, cafes and private homes of Khartoum, Khartoum Bahri and Omdurman. The 59 detainees reported by ACJPS have since been released.

Individuals released from detention confirmed that they were interrogated about plans to commemorate the victims of the excessive force used by Sudanese authorities during protests in 2013. ACJPS is investigating allegations of torture and ill-treatment. At least one detainee testified to ACJPS being beaten and forced to sleep on the ground with five other detainees in an overcrowded cell with no protection from mosquitos. He was denied a change of clothes and family visits during the ten days he was detained before his release without charge.

Although ACJPS verified 185 deaths, Sudanese authorities acknowledged just 85. A majority of death certificates issued listed the cause of death as “mysterious circumstances”, despite a majority of victims having been shot in the head or chest.

The mandate, composition and findings of three state commissions of inquiry reportedly established have never been made public, and repeated attempts to access them have been unsuccessful. Out of at least 85 criminal complaints pursued by victims’ families, only one has progressed to court. That case concerns Dr. Sara Abdelgbagi, who was shot and killed outside her uncle’s home in the Aldorashab neighbourhood of Khartoum Bahri on 25 September 2013. The case is ongoing. This is the only known case of immunity provisions in Sudanese law being lifted to allow for criminal proceedings against a state official accused of using excessive force during the 2013 protests. At least eight people were arrested on the evening of 25 September 2014 in connection with a planned memorial event for Dr. Sara Abdelbagi at her family home.

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