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Detainees released during UN expert visit 'presents false picture’ on human rights in Sudan

February 22 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Adama Dieng, the United Nations expert on human rights in Sudan (Jean-Marc Ferré/UN)
Adama Dieng, the United Nations expert on human rights in Sudan (Jean-Marc Ferré/UN)

Authorities have released roughly 40 political detainees in what has been criticised as an attempt to mislead the UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, who is currently visiting Sudan. More than 160 political detainees are still held in prisons, often without clear charges or access to lawyers.

The authorities in Khartoum transferred roughly 40 detainees from Soba Prison, south-east of the city, to various police stations in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North after which they were released. The detainees had been detained for weeks. 

Iman Mirghani and Amna Awad were released from the Omdurman Women's Prison.

Meanwhile, the authorities kept more than 160 political detainees in Soba Prison and other prisons.

Soba Prison has been in the news in the past days as detainees started a hunger strike against their continued detention without legal charges. Protests and vigils have been held to demand the release of detainees, including yesterday’s ‘Break the Chains’ demonstrations.

The Forces for Freedom and Change called for a national campaign to release all political detainees.

Lawyer Amira Mohamed, member of the Emergency Lawyers team, told Radio Dabanga that the authorities released a number of detainees after transferring them to police stations without filing charges, but obliging them to make a personal pledge not to criticise the authorities.

She clarified that a number of other detainees did face charges and explained that emergency lawyers have initiated procedures to release the remaining detainees on bail.

The Emergency Lawyers said in a statement that the release of some of the detainees at this time aims to ‘blur the facts’, mislead the United Nations expert on human rights in Sudan currently visiting the country, and suggest that there are ‘no political detainees in the military regime's cells’.

The Darfur Bar Association and the Committee for the Defence of Those Affected by Arbitrary and Unlawful Detention described the release as "an attempt to circumvent the continuous violations that have been practised by the regime's repressive apparatus and to present a false picture of the human rights situation in the country to the visiting UN expert".

In a joint statement published yesterday, they said that this pattern was inherited from the former regime and severely violated rights.

'The release of some detainees is an attempt to circumvent the continuous violations that have been practised by the regime's repressive apparatus and to present a false picture of the human rights situation in the country to the visiting UN expert' 

The Forces for Freedom and Change called for a national campaign to release all political detainees, whose number exceeds two hundred, including those held in Soba Prison.

In a statement, the Executive Office of the Forces for Freedom and Change called for the release of all detainees and for an end to violence, torture and gross violations of human rights.

They also called to “raise the banner of solidarity with the families of the detainees”, demand the provision of food and medicine to the detainees, and form an independent commission to investigate the murders of protesters committed by the coup authorities.

Many vocal opponents of the military government that took power in the October 25 coup are still missing and more than 83 protesters have been killed.

Those recently arrested and detained have often been unlawfully detained with no charges brought forwards to start a trial. The detainees are prevented from seeing their families and lawyers and have also been refused medical care by doctors.

Anti-coup protesters in Sudan have faced excessive violence, killings, and arbitrary detentions
(social media - Hassan Ahmed Berkia)

 

UN human rights expert continues visit

The UN expert on human rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, continued his meetings with government officials and representatives of political forces and civil society organisations in Khartoum for the second day yesterday.

The Darfur Bar Association and the Committee for the Defence of Those Affected by Arbitrary and Unlawful Detention said that they met with the UN expert at the mission's headquarters in Khartoum as part of the group of civil society organisations. 

In their statement, the two organisations indicated that they had provided the UN expert with data about the political detainees held in various prisons and detention centres in Khartoum, and the victims of arbitrary killings by the regime.

They consider the criminal charges that were opened against the detainees ‘malicious’, and stated that the release of some protesters on bail is purely intended “to legalise the human rights violations practised and to avoid international measures and criticism of the UN expert”.

The organisations also stressed the need for the UN expert to visit the prisons, detention centres, and other places of detention all over the country. 

They called on the international community to expand the scope of the UN mandate to place Sudan under Chapter VII in order to achieve protection and public safety for citizens in the face of "the arbitrary killing machine and gross human rights violations".

In a meeting at the Ministry of Justice yesterday, Acting Minister of Justice Mohamed Saeed El Hilu welcomed the UN human rights expert and emphasised the government’s readiness to provide all support and assistance to facilitate his mission.

He said that the transitional government sought to fulfil its commitments contained in international conventions and the constitutional document.

The Socialist Doctors Association requested to meet with Adama Dieng and called for the violations of the coup authorities to be classified as crimes against humanity.

Adama Dieng's visit, which will continue until February 24, is meant to document human rights violations during the demonstrations that have taken place in the country since the military coup of October 25, 2021, and produce a report to the Human Rights Council in June.

The expert also plans to provide an oral briefing on the course of events and the human rights situation coming March.


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