The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has expressed its concerns for the physical safety of 14 political detainees who are currently being held in unknown locations in Sudan. It also criticised the re-arrest of 18 students in South Kordofan.
In a press communique on Friday, the New-York based ACJPS stated that “the lack of access for lawyers and family members to the detainees, together with the well-documented use by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, particularly whilst held incommunicado, gives rise to serious concerns for their safety”.
Hundreds of people, among them many opposition party leaders, were detained by the Sudanese security apparatus last month. The reason was that they publicly protested new austerity measures implemented in early January, and that caused price increases of 200 to 300 per cent.
About 80 detainees were released last Sunday evening, after President Omar Al Bashir had ordered all political detainees in the country.
The Centre welcomed the release but it also said that at least 71 detainees are still under NISS custody, and called on the Government of Sudan “to guarantee the physical safety of all detainees, grant them immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers, family members and medical services, and release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards”.
ACJPS further points to a news report published in El Intibaha newspaper, traditionally affiliated with the ruling National Congress Party, last week.
Lt. Gen. Salah Abdallah (Gosh), the re-appointed NISS director, is quoted to have stated that the release of the remaining detainees will be determined by the behaviour of the political parties they are affiliated too.
This conditional release of the remaining detainees raises concern about the detainees’ right to liberty of person and their access to other procedural guarantees, the Centre notes.
On 7 February, the NISS in South Kordofan re-arrested 18 students after the Criminal Court of Delling dropped charges against them.
The students were charged with offences under the 1991 Criminal Act in relation to their participation in a peaceful student protest staged after an officer of the Sudan Armed Forces indiscriminately shot and killed two students on the university campus. Six of them were transferred to Khartoum on 17 February, but their whereabouts are unknown.
“The conduct of the NISS indicates a lack of respect for the judicial process and the rule of law and violates the rights to fair trial and liberty and security of person,” the ACJPS report reads.
The communique further includes a number of other people who have been detained or are still being held by the NISS during the first two months this year.