Senior officials of the Sudanese Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have rejected the reduction of powers of the security apparatus in draft constitutional amendments, a move criticised by human rights defenders in the country.
Legal activist and prominent defender of human rights, Saleh Mahmoud, claimed that the NISS senior officials are making “political arguments”. “The task of the security apparatus should be limited to information collection and analysis, and providing advice and counselling to the decision-taking bodies.
“This is the situation in all countries which respect their Constitution,” Mahmoud told Radio Dabanga.
Yesterday, NISS officials and security specialists categorically rejected draft constitutional amendments that would reduce the powers of the security service and restrict them to the collection and analysis of information only.
The officials made their statements after a hearing with the emergency parliamentary committee, tasked with reviewing the amendments to Sudan's Constitution. They demanded that the texts of the law and legislation should ensure granting wider powers to the security apparatus.
“We should not diminish the powers of the NISS, but there should be laws and legislations to strengthen it particularly Sudan is facing big challenges and significant threats and surrounded by a troubled region. All these require a law guaranteeing strength and teeth to the NISS and enabling it to face these challenges,” security Gen. Tawfig El Mulatham, the director of the High Academy for Strategic and Security Studies, told reporters after the lengthy meeting.
He justified repeated confiscations of newspapers by the security service, saying it is a punitive measure for when a newspaper touches issues related to foreign relations and security of the Sudanese society.
On the administrative detention of opponents and activists, El Mulatham said that the security service has no objection to reducing the detention period.
During the past years, the NISS upgraded its already severe restrictions on press freedoms by restoring 'pre-publication censorship' and issuing a number of 'red lines' on matters that are not supposed to be covered by the media.
The National Security Act of 2010 vests the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) with wide powers of arrest and detention for up to four and a half months without judicial review, in addition to powers of search and seizure. In early January 2016, the Sudanese parliament passed a number of amendments to the 2005 Interim Constitution. An important amendment concerned the extension of the NISS competences, by which the institution became a full part of Sudan's regular forces.