Sudan: Guarantee Safety and Give Access to Detained Human Rights Defenders

Press Statement

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defender Project (EHAHRDP) are deeply concerned for the safety of 23 human rights defenders who are amongst over 800 people who have been arrested in connection with anti-austerity and anti-government demonstrations that have taken place throughout Sudan since 23 September 2013. The organisations also condemn in the strongest terms the killing of three human rights defenders, who are amongst over 170 people killed by the Sudanese authorities during the protests.

Human rights defenders killed

On 24 September, Khartoum University student Abubaker Alnour Hamad (m) was shot and killed by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services whilst demonstrating in the Shambat neighbourhood in Khartoum Bahri.  The following day, on 25 September, 29 year old Musab Mustafa Muhi Eldein (m) was shot and killed whilst he was filming a demonstration in the Banat neighbourhood of Omdurman. Musab, a known artist and activist, was shot by a NISS officer who, according to eyewitnesses, approached his body after firing the first shot and shot him twice again at close range. Dr. Salah Mudathir Sanhouri, (m), a 24 year old pharmacist, was also shot and killed on 27 September while participating in a demonstration in the Buri neighbourhood of Khartoum.

Abubaker and Dr. Salah were both known active volunteers with the Nafeer initiative. Nafeer is a youth-led volunteer initiative which was set up in 2013 to support communities affected by flooding and is estimated to have at least 5,000 members.

Arrest and detention of human rights defenders

At least 23 human rights defenders are currently in detention, having been arrested in connection with the protests. Those listed below are currently detained by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and have not had access to lawyers, families or friends giving rise to deep concern for their safety.

  1. Mohaied Sidig, (m), member of Change Now, 41 years old, arrested by the NISS on 23 September from his house in Al Halfaia neighbourhood, Khartoum Bahri. The NISS raided his house at 9pm. His house was searched and the NISS confiscated his wife’s laptop and other personal effects.
  2. Mastor Ahmed Mohamed, (m), activist, 59 years of age, arrested from the Al Abasia area of Omdurman at 10am on 23 September.
  3. Magdi Salim, (m), lawyer, 70 years old, arrested on 23 September from his home in Wad Medani, Al Jazeera state.
  4. Mohamed Zain, (m), lawyer, arrested on 23 September in Wad Medani, Al Jazeera state.
  5. Hashim Mohamed Ahmed Balol, (m), lawyer, arrested on 24 September from his office in the market in Kosti, White Nile state.
  6. Adam Mohamed Sharif, (m), lawyer, arrested on 26 September from his office in Nyala, South Darfur.
  7. Taj Alsir Algasim Ahmed, (m), 53 years of age, member of the Khalas Group, working on social and cultural issues, arrested from a market place on 26 September in Al Gadarif.
  8. Ali Hassan Gubran, (m), known activist, arrested on 26 September from the market nearby to the Zhran Hotel in Port Sudan.
  9. Osman Altahir, (m), known activist, arrested on 26 September from the bus station in Port Sudan.
  10. Muaiz Abdul Wahab, (m), member of Nafeer, arrested from his home by the NISS in Khartoum on 28 September. His current whereabouts are not known.
  11. Amal Habani, (f), freelance journalist, 39 years old, arrested by the NISS from street 60 in Khartoum whilst participating in a demonstration on 28 September.
  12. Abdelatif Aldaw, (m), journalist, arrested at 8pm on 28 September whilst visiting Gaffar Khidir at his home in Al Gadarif. Gaffar, a member of the Alshroog Organization for Social and Culture Development, had been arrested on 24 September but released under house arrest on 28 September.
  13. Ryan Shakir (f), member of Nafeer, arrested from her home in the Amarat area of Khartoum on 30 September.
  14. Dalia Alrobi (f), member of Nafeer, employee of the World Bank, arrested from her home in the Amarat area of Khartoum by the NISS on 30th September.
  15. Khalid Omer Yousif (Nicknamed “Sileek”), (m), member of Change Now, arrested from Khartoum on 30 September. The NISS have refused visits from friends and relatives.
  16. Omer Ushari, (m), writer and known human rights activist, arrested on 30 September from his home in Khartoum.
  17. Amjed Farid, (m), member of Change Now and Nafeer, arrested from his home in Khartoum on 1 October. The NISS have refused visits from friends and relatives.
  18. Mohamed Ali Mahamdo, (m), member of Nafeer, arrested in Khartoum on an unknown date.
  19. Babikir Osman, (m), lawyer. Date and place of arrest not known.
  20. Abdallah Mohamed Alhassan, (m), member of the Democratic Teachers Association, arrested on an unknown date in Wad Medani, Al Jazeera state.
  21. Ghada Osman, (f), writer. Date and place of arrest not known.
  22. Mansour Hassan Zaki Aldeen, (m), arrested on an unknown date in El Obeid, North Kordofan state.
  23. Satti Al-Haj, (m), lawyer, date and place of arrest not known.

At least two other known human rights defenders were arrested and subsequently released:

  1. Muaz Nagm Eldeen Krobeen, (m), 42 years of age, a known activist, was arrested from his workplace on 24 September in Kosti. He was released two days later, on 26 September.
  2. Gaffar Khidir, (m), 42 years of age, a prominent member of the Alshroog Organization for Social and Culture Development, arrested by the NISS in Algadarif on 24 September. He was released on 28 September and placed under house arrest by the NISS. He has been prohibited from using the internet.

Intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders

EHAHRDP and ACJPS are deeply concerned that human rights defenders in Sudan, including youth activists, lawyers and journalists are at increased risk of intimidation and detention by the authorities owing to their attempts to document human rights violations taking place in the context of the government’s response to the demonstrations. Members of Nafeer, Change Now and other youth activist groups appear to be particularly targeted because of their social activism and perceived ability to coordinate and mobilise support for the protests.

Journalists have also been harassed while covering the protests. Journalist and human rights defender, Augail Ahmed Naeem, (m), who writes for Al-Ehram Al-Youm, was arrested by the NISS from the Al Droshb area of Khartoum Bahri on 27 September and released the following day.

ACJPS and EHAHRDP call on the Sudanese authorities to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders and immediately cease the use of excessive and disproportionate force, including the use of firearms, against protestors and guarantee the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression as recognised by the Interim National Constitution (2005) and Sudan’s commitments under international law.

The authorities must immediately make known the whereabouts of the detainees, grant them access to their families and lawyers and guarantee their physical and psychological integrity. We call on the authorities to order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards or, if such charges exist, to bring them before an impartial, independent, and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.

The gravity of the current situation in Sudan requires a strong response from the international community to stop human rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice. We call on the African Union, in close coordination with the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to send an urgent commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of the excessive and intentional use of lethal force by the Sudanese authorities and the circumstances leading to the deaths of protestors, including human rights defenders.

For more information, please contact:

Osman Hummaida, Executive Director, ACJPS (in Kampala): + 256 782533965 or [email protected]

Hassan Shire, Executive Director, EHAHRDP (in Kampala): +256772753753 or [email protected]


Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.