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ACJPS call on Sudan and int’l efforts to help with ‘unidentified bodies crisis’

September 29 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Poster for the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, 2021 (SPA)
Poster for the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, 2021 (SPA)

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) called on several organisations and figures in Sudan, including the Attorney General, Minister of Health, United Nations, and various professional associations today to implement the recommendations concerning the protocol on dealing with unidentified bodies, announced by the Missing Persons Investigation Committee (MPIC) on September 19.

The urgent report published by the ACJPS, in line with the MPIC’s recommendations, established their demands and a definitive approach in dealing with the unidentified dead bodies crisis, in a manner that complies with modern medical and investigatory standards.

They called upon organisations, figures, and stakeholders in Sudan to intervene and deploy experts to support the efforts of the MPIC. Additionally, the report called for the Sudanese Attorney General to cancel his decision in appointing the Burials Committee for Unidentified Dead Bodies.

A particular point of contention for MPIC and ACJPS was the need to establish a neutral and objective investigation committee, including members from the Sudanese Bar Association, Journalist Association and, the Missing Initiative to investigate new cases of fraud and the reported harvesting of human organs from dead bodies by some Sudanese doctors.

‘Mortuaries in disarray’

Mortuaries in Khartoum are reportedly in a tragic state, according to the Director of the Forensic Medicine Authority at the Ministry of Health of Khartoum, Hisham Zein El Abidine. In an interview with Sudan Lite, the director stated that rats were “eating the corpses” in the Bashayer Mortuary. Abidine warned that the capital could face an environmental catastrophe due to the “accumulation of corpses and the emission of odour”.

Families are also wishing to find out if their relatives are among more than 3,000 unclaimed bodies in the country’s mortuaries. They are demanding that the government does DNA tests of the bodies before it takes any further steps.

In August, the Sudanese Senior Public Prosecutor announced plans to dig mass graves for the unidentified bodies in mortuaries without recording forensic details. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors denounced the decision, calling the move a “dangerous deviation from the protocols.”

Tayeb El Abbas, a lawyer and the head of the missing persons investigation committee set up by the transitional government in 2019, told The Guardian that if the government were to undertake DNA testing, “it will be for the first time in Sudan that they will be burying every missing person in a separate grave... we are hoping that if this identification process uses the right procedure we will be able to know [how they died].”

Sumia Osman’s 24-year-old son has been missing since June 3, 2019, when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) carried out a brutal attack on the large sit-in in front of the army command in central Khartoum, whereby more than 127 people were killed.

“They [the government] left the bodies [to decompose] to bury the truth. They deliberately did it,” she told The Guardian. “We are so depressed,” she said, adding that she would “never give up looking for the truth.”

Iman Musa, whose brother, El Mukashfi Musa, 28, is missing, said: “We have reached a point where we think there is no justice on this planet.”

In their statement, the Doctors Committee said that “the revolution, since the start in December 2018, has continuously witnessed attempts to obscure justice, and protect the perpetrators of violence and extrajudicial killings.” It demands that “in order to preserve the rights of the unidentified dead to dignity and justice, a number of measures and procedures must be taken”.

‘Human organ trafficking’

The ACJPS also indicated in today’s report that there were “judicial confessions by some employees in mortuaries and autopsy technicians of selling of unidentified dead bodies”.

Through strong evidence collected by the MPIC’s investigation, they alleged that there was human organ harvesting from unidentified dead bodies inside the mortuaries, and that this “proved the concealment of the actual number of bodies buried and presented to the MPIC”.

Their investigation also found that a mortuary in Omdurman “hid blood samples of dead bodies that were to be sent to lab of General Department of Criminal Evidence for examination until it became unsuitable for examination”.


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