The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has expressed its concerns for the safety of students from Delling University in northern South Kordofan who were arbitrarily detained by Military Intelligence officers more than a week ago.
Government forces raided the university campus in Delling on January 12 to quell a student protest against the killing of two of their fellow students by an army soldier a day before.
The soldier reportedly entered the campus with a Kalashnikov hidden under his clothes. He approached a woman students. When she ignored him, he took his gun and killed her. A nearby student was fatally hit as well. The attacker then shot himself dead.
In response, students staged a protest at the campus against the killing of their two colleagues. When they blocked the entrances to the university buildings, and allegedly set fire to some of them, policemen and members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Military Intelligence, and the Sudanese army, stormed the place.
Reportedly about 117 students were detained during the raid. The African Centre said in a report on Thursday that it was able to confirm the names of 49 students held by the NISS, Military Intelligence, and the police.
Of the 20 students held by the NISS, 18 were transferred to police cells in Delling on January 15. They have been charged with criminal conspiracy, publication of false news, disturbance of public peace, public nuisance, and criminal mischief, and were released on bail the next day.
On January 16, six women students were released on bail from police custody, after having been being charged with the same accusations. alongside the above mentioned 18 detainees.
A court session has been scheduled for January 22 for these 24 students.
The Centre is particularly concerned about the conditions of five students detained incommunicado at the Military Intelligence offices in Delling since January 12.
“Given the well-documented use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees in Military Intelligence, ACJPS has serious safety concerns for the five detainees,” the report reads.
“Incommunicado detention significantly enhances vulnerability to torture and other ill-treatment. The practice is in breach of Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular the prohibition under Article 5 of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment.”
The African Centre therefore calls on the Sudanese authorities “to immediately guarantee the safety of the five student detainees, grant them immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers and family members, and release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards”.
In addition, ACJPS points to the “continued use of excessive forces by authorities to crackdown protests in Sudan”, and urges the authorities to refrain “from arbitrarily arresting and detaining individuals on basis of their real or perceived involvement in the organisation of protests without accurate information on the grounds or reasons of arrests.
“Authorities should guarantee the rights of detainees including access to lawyer and family, access to medical attention, and prompt access to a court,” the Centre states.