Sudan Organisation Against Torture
Human Rights Alert: 19 August 2005
Arbitrary Arrests; Imposition of degrading and inhumane punishments; torture in Khartoum
Between 1 and 2 August 2005, approximately 1500 people were arrested following violent rioting in Khartoum and across Sudan including the Southern town of Juba. The vast majority of those arrested in Khartoum and the peripheral areas appeared before the courts the following day, 3 August 2005.
SOAT recognises the responsibility of the Sudanese government to protect its citizens from attack and to prevent violence. However, SOAT has a number of concerns with regards to the arrest and trial of suspects related to the rioting.
SOAT is deeply concerned about reports of ill-treatment including torture of detainees, and the standards of trial which have fallen far short of international standards. In one particular incident, on 3 August, Chief of Justice ordered a three months prison sentence for 99 of the detainees detained at Mayo Custody Centre in Khartoum. The detainees did not appear before the courts and were transferred directly from the custody centre to Omdurman prison to begin their sentence. 55 persons remain in detention at Mayo Custody Centre and are facing no charges.
SOAT is also concerned about the grounds for arrest of some of the detainees. It is feared that some of the detainees may have been arrested solely on account of their social/ethnic background, or because they are members of the internally displaced population (IDP) in and around Khartoum.
Moreover the process of gathering information on those detained has been fraught. The police authorities refused to divulge further information and cited that they have received an official order forbidding them from disclosing any information on the number of persons arrested, sentenced, and killed to the media or the public.
The detainees were charged with offences under the 1991 Penal Code, tried and sentenced in the absence of national and international safeguards including access to legal counsel, the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the charges and the right to an appeal. The following are details of person arrested by police officers in Khartoum and Omdurman:
Alazhary Police Station, Khartoum
On 1 August 2005, 147 persons were arrested and detained at Alazhary police station. Among those detained, 20 were charged with articles 69 (Disturbance of Public Peace) and 77 (Public Nuisance) of the 1991 Penal code and sentenced on the same day as arrest (1 August 2005) to between 30 and 50 lashes, two months imprisonment and fined between 10,000 – 30,000 Sudanese dinars. 15 persons are facing charges under article 174 (Theft) and article 175 (Robbery), 14 of which are released on bail and one remains in detention awaiting trial.
The details of the remaining 112 persons are unknown with the exception of that they are facing charges of criminal damage.
Jabal Awlya Police Station, Khartoum
On 1 August, 20 persons were arrested and detained at Jabal Awlya police station . The detainees were charged under articles 174 and 175 and sentenced to between 40 to 100 lashes and prison sentences ranging between three months to three years on the same day of arrest (1 August 2005).
Another 37 unknown persons are reportedly in the detention centre and are awaiting the outcome of police investigations.
Khartoum Bahri Police Station, Khartoum
Between 1 and 2 August, 156 people were arrested and detained at Khartoum Bahri police station. The detainees were convicted under articles 174, 67 (Rioting) and 139 (Causing Intentional Wounds) of the 1991 Penal code. The detainees were sentenced to between 3 to 6 months, 20 lashes and fined.
Hillat kuku and Algiraif Sharg Police Station, Khartoum
On 1 August, 64 persons were arrested by police officers from Hillat Kuku and Algiraif Sharg, out of which 13 people have been released without charge. 38 of the detainees were charged under articles 69, 77, 174, 39, 182 (Criminal Mischief) and sentenced to 20 lashes and 2 months imprisonment. The remaining detainees are charged under article 130 (Murder). They remain in Hillat kuku and Algiraif Sharg police custody awaiting trial.
Alhag Yousuf Police Station, Khartoum
Between 1 and 2 August, 621 persons were arrested and detained at Alhag Yousuf police custody centre. 2 of the detainees was released without charge, 619 remain in detention and are facing charges under articles 174, 181 (Recieiving Stolen Property), 182 and 77 of the 1991 penal code.
Bahri Wasat Group of Courts, Khartoum
25 people were arrested and detained at Bahri Wasat Group of Courts. They remain in detention and are facing no official charges.
Alsafia Police Station, Khartoum
20 persons were arrested, 14 of the detainees were released without charge. The remaining 6 detainees were charged under articles 77, 69, 100 (Omission to Assist Public Servant) and 174 and sentenced to 20 lashes and 3 months imprisonment.
Khartoum Sharg Criminal Court
On 3 August, 187 were arrested and appeared before Khartoum Sharg Criminal Court where they were sentenced to three months imprisonment. The prisoners are serving their sentence at Omdurman prison.
Mayo Police Station, Khartoum
On 3 August, the Chief of Justice ordered a three months prison sentence for 99 of the detainees detained at Mayo Custody Centre in Khartoum. The detainees did not appear before the courts and were instead transferred directly from the custody centre to Omdurman prison to begin their sentence. 55 persons remain in detention at Mayo Custody Centre and are facing no charges.
Almuhandiseen Police Station, Omdurman
102 people arrested and detained in the custody centre on 1 August 2005. The detainees were trailed the following day (2 August) and sentenced to 40 lashes and three months imprisonment.
Alawsat Omdurman Police Station, Omdurman
12 persons were arrested and detained at Alawsat Omdurman police station and charged under article 100 of the 1991 Penal code and sentenced to lashing. There are other detainees, (number unknown) charged under article 174 and are awaiting trial.
Umbda Alrashideen Police Station, Omdurman
100 persons arrested and detained at Umbda Alrahideen police station and charged under article 100 and sentenced to three months imprisonment.
Asinaat Police Station, Omdurman
69 persons arrested were arrested and detained at Asinaat police station. 39 of the detainees were sentenced to seven days imprisonment. Among the detainees were 9 women, they were ordered to write a statement promising that they would not participate in public protests or demonstrations in the future. 15 of the detainees were released without charges. 6 of the detainees were children under 18 years; the children were sentenced to 20 lashes.
Souque Libya Police Station, Omdurman
It is believed a number of persons were arrested on 17 August 2005 and are being detained at Souque Libya police station on suspicion of stealing properties during the 1-2 August riots.
Almuailih Police Station, Omdurman
17 persons were arrested on 17 August 2005. The detainees are accused of robbery under article 175.
Immediately following the announcement of the death of Dr. John Garang De Mabior, (60 yrs), First Vice- President of Sudan in a helicopter crash in southern Sudan on 1 August 2005, hundreds of people went on the streets in Khartoum. What began as a show of communal grieving soon degenerated into full-scale violence which spread across the whole of Sudan resulting in the death of hundreds of people and widespread destruction of private property. The security forces who did not intervene for an hour, allowing the violence to escalated response was the mass arrests of approximately 1500 people.
SOAT calls on the new government to order the release of all the detainees in the absence of valid legal charges, or if legitimate charges exist, bring them before an impartial tribunal and to order a retrial of all those convicted ensuring the trials are credible and legitimate and meet the minimum benchmarks in line with international standards. These events are an opportunity for the new government to assert the primacy of the protection of human rights in Sudan.
SOAT condemns the arbitrary arrests; incommunicado detentions; the imposition of degrading and inhumane punishments; subjecting children before adult courts as opposed to juvenile courts; all amounting to the government complete disregard of international standards and the protection of civilians and respect for basic human rights.
SOAT calls on the government of Sudan to:
Immediately establish an independent, impartial commission of inquiry into the response of the security forces and treatment of persons arrested between 1 and 2 August and to make the commission findings public upon completion;
Take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all the detainees;
Immediately release all the detainees in the absence of valid legal charges, or if legitimate charges exist, bring them before an impartial tribunal and guarantee procedural rights at all times;
End impunity for crimes committed by the government security forces and ensure that all the detainees have access to legal advice;
Guarantee respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The above recommendations should be sent in appeals to the following addresses:
His Excellency Field Marshal Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
President' s Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 783223
His Excellency Ali Osman Mohamed Taha
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 771025
Mr. Mustafa Osman Ismail
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 779383
Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha
Advisory Council for Human Rights
PO Box 302
Fax: + 249 183 770883
His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Elhassan Ahmed Elhaj
Avenue Blanc 47
Tel: 022 731 26 63
Fax: 022 731 26 56
SOAT is an international human rights organisation established in the UK in 1993. If you have any questions about this or any other SOAT information, please contact us:
Kilburn Park Road
London NW6 5LF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7625 8055
Fax: +44 (0)20 7372 2656