SUDAN: Serious concerns about the arrest of 30 human rights defenders in violent crackdown against peaceful protests

12/02/2019
Press release

Geneva-Paris-Kampala, February 12, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies express their utmost concern about the violent crackdown targeting human rights defenders participating in ongoing peaceful protests in Sudan.

Since December 19, 2018, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and police have carried out a mass campaign of arrests targeting human rights defenders with arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention, in some cases incommunicado, for their participation or suspected participation in protests that have broken out in different parts of Sudan, denouncing the rising cost of living and calling for President Omar Al-Bashir to step down. Human rights defenders have been arrested while at home, work, or during protests.

During this period, 31 human rights defenders have been arrested and all, except one, remain detained to date (see Annex). Four have been subjected to long detention periods under the emergency law declared in some states. At least two of them have been detained more than once since December 2018. Several detainees were moved to places of detention outside their original states thus hindering access to family visits, lawyers and health care. Isolation, combined with the well-documented use by the NISS of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, particularly whilst held in unknown locations, gives rise to serious concerns for their safety.

These arrests are mostly based on the Emergency legal framework and on the 2010 National Security Act. The former allows for preventive arrest and detention on the basis of vague grounds without time limits to the detention or judicial oversight, therefore authorizing prolonged if not indefinite detention. The latter allows NISS officials to detain a suspect for up to four and a half months without charge in absence of any form of judicial scrutiny.[1]

Eleven of the human rights defenders currently targeted are lawyers. For example, on December 21, 2018, and December 31, 2018, two human rights lawyers were arrested while providing legal aid services to detained protesters and students at Khartoum North court and Northern police station in Khartoum, and remain under incommunicado detention at the political section of NISS in Khartoum. As elaborated in the joint Observatory and ACJPS report "Target one to silence a hundred: the repression of human rights lawyers in Sudan", the continued arrest and detention of human rights defenders has hindered access to legal aid services for thousands of protesters who remain in detention with or without charge.

The Observatory and ACJPS urge the government of Sudan to cease the repression of human rights defenders and allow them to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, as guaranteed under Sudan’s Constitution and international standards ratified by Sudan. The authorities must guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free from any restrictions, including judicial harassment.

The Observatory and ACJPS recall that during this crackdown Sudanese authorities, including the NISS and the Anti-Riot Police as well as private militias in civilian clothes, have indiscriminately fired live ammunition and tear gas into crowds of peaceful protesters, killing civilians. Witnesses have reported that snipers have targeted demonstrators in the head and chest. At least 40 protesters have been reported dead while hundreds have been arrested.

The Observatory and ACJPS further recall that in 2018 another social protest movement was also met by violent repression[2].

Annex:

List of human rights defenders arrested between December 2018 and February 2019:

• Mr. Adam Mahdi, chief editor of Darfur 24 online newspaper, was arrested on January 27, 2019 subjected to three-month imprisonment under Emergency law of 2007 in Nyala of South Darfur.
• Mr. Ahmed Yassien was arrested on January 3, 2019 in Port Sudan while still nursing an injury from a tear gas canister that hit him. He was transferred to Khartoum on January 6, 2019.
• Mr. Ali Abu Algasim was arrested on December 25, 2018.
• Ms. Amal Jabralla, a psychiatrist, was arrested on December 25, 2018.
• Ms. Amani Osman Hamid was arrested at her home in Ariaat neighborhood of Khartoum on January 13, 2019.
• Mr. Amin Sunada, a journalist, was arrested in Port Sudan on January 26, 2019 and transferred to Khartoum on February 1, 2019.
• Mr. Bakari Gerbil, a lawyer, was arrested at Khartoum North Court on December 31, 2018 while providing legal aid services to protests detainees with a group of lawyers.
• Ms. Egbal Ali Ahmed, a lawyer, was arrested on December 31, 2018
• Ms. Hadia Hasabala, a lecturer at Al-Ahfad University in Omdurman, was arrested on February 2, 2019.
• Ms. Hanadi Fadul, a lawyer, was arrested in Wad Madani town in Aljazeera State on December 20, 2018.
• Mr. Hassan El Teyeb Yassin, a lawyer, was arrested in Port Sudan on January 26, 2019 and transferred to Khartoum on February 1, 2019. He is on medication for heart disease.
• Mr. Hussein Saad, a freelance journalist, was arrested in Obid Khatem Road in Khartoum on January 2, 2019.
• Ms. Ihasan Fagiri, was arrested on December 25, 2018.
• Mr. Jafer Abdulgadir was arrested in Khartoum on January 3, 2019.
• Mr. Kamal Amad Aljazuli, a lawyer and writer, was arrested in Khartoum on January 30, 2019.
• Ms. Khalda Sabir, a teacher, was arrested in Port Sudan on December 27, 2018 and transferred to Khartoum on January 1, 2019.
• Mr. Khalid Mohamed Noor, was arrested in Port Sudan on January 3, 2019 and transferred to Khartoum on January 6, 2019.
• Mr. Mohamed Bagan, a lawyer, was arrested on December 25, 2018 and he is being detained incommunicado, for three months in Eldien, East Darfur under the emergency law.
• Mr. Mohamed Vagan, a lawyer, was arrested on December 25, 2018 and subjected to 3 months imprisonment under the Emergency law in Dlien, Eastern Sudan.
• Mr. Najieb Najm Eldien, a doctor, was arrested in Khartoum on January 11, 2019.
• Mr. Nazim Suraj Eldien, an activist, was arrested in Khartoum on January 21, 2019. He has been providing medical assistance to injured protesters in Khartoum.
• Ms. Nehal Elteyeb, a pharmacist, was arrested in Khartoum on January 14, 2019.
• Mr. Osman Hassan Salih, lawyer, human rights defender, was arrested on December 24, 2018 at his home in Alobid neighborhood of North Kordofan. He was subjected to six months imprisonment under the Emergency law then was to be detained in the NISS section in Port Sudan prison of Red Sea Sate, Eastern Sudan. Mr. Salih was earlier arrested on January 10, 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 March 19, 2018 and was allegedly subjected to torture while in custody.
• Mr. Radwan Daund, was arrested in Khartoum on January 23, 2019.
• Mr. Rana Abdul Gafar, was arrested in Atbara town of River Nile Sate on December 31, 2018.
• Mr. Salih Mahmoud Mohamed Osman, a lawyer and, Vice-president of Darfur Bar Association, was arrested at his office in Khartoum on January 6, 2019. Mr. Salih was arrested following a statement he made on media alleging that killing of the protesters fall under crimes against humanity. Mr. Salih was earlier arrested during the January 2018 anti-austerity protests and detained for about three months before being released on March 19, 2018.
• Ms. Samia Argawi, a lawyer, was arrested in Atbara town of River Nile State on December 31, 2018. She was earlier detained on December 21, 2018 at Northern Police station in Khartoum where she had gone to provide legal aid to a group of student protesters who were arrested by police in Khartoum and was released later that same day. Ms. Aragwi was also arrested by NISS earlier on January 6, 2018, during the protest against the economic austerity measures that led to increase of prices of basic commodities in January 2018. She was detained at the NISS section of Omdurman women prison and released on February 18, 2018.
• Mr. Satti Mohamed Elhaj, was arrested in Omdurman on December 22, 2018 and released on February 10, 2019.
• Ms. Sumia Ishaq, was arrested in Atbara town of River Nile State on December 27, 2018.
• Mr. Taha Osman Ishaq, a lawyer, was arrested in Khartoum on February 6, 2019.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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