KHARTOUM, Sudan, March 12, 2018-Sudanese authorities should urgently investigate the reported torture and custodial death of Mr. Ajack Hamid and reported torture of seven other individuals whilst being detained by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Neem Higairat in West Kordofan state, on suspicion of committing a robbery around Heglig town. The eight individuals were arrested from the Neeim Higairat market on 20 February and detained at the NISS office in Neem Higairat in West Kordofan state. Reliable information indicates that the detainees were subjected to torture including beatings as well as being forced to sit on a hot plate and pouring of hot oil down their backs and on their private parts.
The African Centre of Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is seriously concerned for the safety of persons in NISS custody given reports about the torture and ill-treatment. In January 2018, ACJPS documented a custodial death of a pharmacist and reported torture of five others whilst under NISS custody in Giraida in South Darfur. The National Security Act 2010 providing that persons in NISS custody are to be treated in a dignified manner and not to be subjected to physical or moral hurt.
On 20 February 2018 at 12 PM, a joint force of the National Security and Intelligence Services (NISS) and Central Reserves Police of Neem Higairat in West Kordofan arrested eight men, suspected of taking part in the robbery, from the Neem Higairat market and detained them at the NISS office in Neem Higiarat.
According to reliable information, the eight detainees were severely tortured by six NISS officers under the command of a Central Reserve Police officer holding the rank of First Lieutenant, whilst at the NISS detention centre in Neem Higiarat. It is reported that the detainees were ordered them to remove their clothes before the officers proceeded to beat them. The detainees were also forced them to sit on a hot plate and had poured hot oil over their backs and private parts.
The detainees were then transferred to Al-Foula hospital, in the capital of West Kordofan state, later that same day. One of the detainees, Mr. Ajack Hamdid succumbed to his injuries. An autopsy performed on Mr. Ajack revealed that was beaten and sustained severe injuries along his spine and neck which caused his death. The medical report indicated signs of torture, including burns and wounds sustained from a sharp object. A complaint was filed against Lt. Muzamil, an officer with the Central Reserve Police and six NISS officers accused of torturing the deceased.
Medical examination carried out on the other detainees also revealed that their bodies showed signs of torture, including burns and wounds sustained from a sharp object. Mr. Adam Ahmed Abu Algasim, another detainee remains in critical condition and is still admitted at the Al-Foula hospital.
On 23 February, the six remaining detainees were transferred to the Heglig criminal court for trial. The presiding judge, however, declined to proceed with the matter citing that the absence of a case file indicating charges filed against the seven accused persons before the police or the prosecutor’s office. Following this, the seven detainees were transferred back to the NISS office in Neem Higairat. The six detainees were released without charge, on 25 February 2018.
The seven men in custody include:
Hamid Mohamed Gooja
Musa Sideeg Ibrahim
Mohamed Kashaba Sulieman
Khareef Mahmoud Abdalla
Wadood Ahmed Bilal
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the Government of Sudan to immediately investigate the grave allegations and hold those responsible to account. The reported allegations of torture and the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Al-Jack should be the subject of an immediate, thorough, impartial, public and transparent investigation by the Sudanese authorities
The authorities should also conduct an investigation into the allegations of torture of the seven other detainees, with an aim of holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions and providing effective remedy for the victims.
ACJPS reiterates its call for law reform and calls on the Government of Sudan to adopt legislation that defines and criminalises torture in line with international standards including the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), provide effective access to justice and adequate reparation to victims of torture, and ensure that confessions obtained under torture are not used or accepted by courts under any circumstances. The Government should expressly denounce the use of torture by security agents to intimidate or extract confessions from persons in their custody.
Sudanese authorities have been consistently implicated in the use of torture as a means of intimidation and to extract confessions. Despite the prohibition of torture in Sudan’s 2005 Interim National Constitution, other legislation, such as the 2010 National Security Act and 1994 Evidence Act, creates conditions rendering detainees extremely vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment. The 2007 Armed Forces Act, 2008 Police Act, and 2010 National Security Act each grant immunities to state actors.
The government of Sudan has repeatedly failed to ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of torture, ill-treatment and has failed to ensure effective remedies or provide reparation to the victims. Even in cases where the immunities mentioned above have been lifted, victims of torture have faced various barriers that make it extremely hard to report cases of torture. ACJPS is not aware of a single case where an alleged perpetrator of torture has been held to account. The ACHPR found in case 379/09 against Sudan that remedies are not available to people tortured by the NISS because the power to lift immunities is at the discretion of the director of the NISS and is not subject to judicial oversight.