Global civil society network, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and the Human Rights and Legal Aid Network (HRLAN), Sudan, condemn the Government of Sudan’s unabated crackdown on peaceful dissent and call for immediate removal of unwarranted restrictions on the independent media and nonviolent demonstrators.
The continued employment of excessive force by Sudanese security forces, including the routine arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators, is cause for serious concern.
According to national reports, over 300 persons were arbitrarily detained during anti-austerity protests held from June-July 2012 under the National Security Act, which permits prolonged detention without judicial recourse for up to four and a half months.
Furthermore, nearly 40 human rights defenders were detained in connection with the month-long demonstrations, including prominent civil society activists Nahid Jabralla, Director of the women’s rights group SEEMA on 3 June, and the President of the Sudanese Association for Rights and Freedoms on June 20.
Most recently, residents of Sudan’s central state of Al-Jazirah staged protests from 30 October – 2 November 2012 demonstrating against failing social services, including insufficient access to water and electricity. Security forces fired teargas on the protesters, leading to clashes wherein 17 demonstrators were injured and 15 were detained.
Independent media groups and journalists have also been subjected to severe restrictions and unwarranted persecution by Sudanese authorities for reporting on human rights violations committed by government forces.
According to international watchdog groups, as of May 2012 the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has confiscated more than 15 editions of local newspapers, forcefully suspended over 13 journalists, and identified around 20 topics which the press is forbidden to cover.
While the Sudanese government officially terminated its pre-censorship policy in 2009, on 5 November 2012 Sudanese authorities confiscated the edition of one of the country’s oldest daily newspapers, Alwan newspaper, preventing the newspaper from publishing. However, the government has not provided an explanation for the confiscation.
Furthermore, on 2 November 2012, Somaya Ibrahim Ismail Hundosa, a freelance journalist, was discovered severely injured after she had been abducted near Khartoum.
Somaya Hundosa, who was questioned by NISS officers two days before her abduction on 30 October, has reported extensively on the ongoing conflict in Western Darfur and South Kordafan regions for several independent newspapers including Al-Watan and Al-Sahafa.
According to reports, Hundosa was subjected to severe torture while in detention, including being beaten with whips and having her head forcefully shaved.
CIVICUS and the Human Rights and Legal Aid Network urge the Sudanese government to: (i) give clear directives to members of the security agencies to cease using excessive force to disrupt peaceful demonstrations and refrain from impeding peaceful assemblies, (ii) bring the National Security Act in line with international standards governing due process rights, (iii) release protesters, activists and journalists who have been detained for prolonged periods, (iv) take immediate steps to end the use of torture by security forces and institute criminal proceedings against those responsible and, (v) uphold the right to freedom of expression by removing arbitrary and unwarranted restrictions on independent media and journalists.