KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 16, 2018–On 10 April 2018, about four days to the scheduled visit of the UN Independent Expert on Sudan, President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir issued a presidential decree ordering for the release of all political detainees. Following the announcement, individuals detained during the January/February 2018 anti-austerity protests were released from custody after spending 84 days in detention, without charge or appearance before a court to determine the legality of their detention.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) welcomes the release of the detainees, however expresses deep concern for approximately 248 detainees still languishing in detention without charge or access to a court of law as well as the existing legal framework allowing for arbitrary and indefinite detention. ACJPS also expresses concern for the continued abuse of the law by the authorities to interfere with the peaceful and legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
ACJPS received reliable information on the detention of 60 members from the Ma’alia tribe in East Darfur state and are being held at Kober prison in Khartoum and Port Sudan Prison in Red Sea State. Detainees at the Port Sudan prison have been denied family visits. ACJPS also received reliable information on the arrest and detention of 155 prisoners of war from two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement who are currently being held at the Al Huda Prison in Omdurman.
ACPS previously document the re-arrest of 8 Darfurian students from the central bus station in Khartoum Bahri currently under NISS detention in Khartoum. ACJPS is aware of two other individuals currently detained at Kober prison, in Khartoum since January 2018.
The Sudanese authorities have relied on powers of arrest provided for under the National Security Act 2010, Criminal Procedure Act 1991 and the Emergency and Protection of Public Safety Act of 1997 to give effect to these arrests and continued detention. The laws in question grant competent authorities with wide grounds for arrest and detention and lack the requisite safeguards against arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention.
The Third Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 1949 guarantees, among others, humane treatment for prisoners of war as well as conditions of confinement awaiting trial. The detention of prisoners of war should be intended to prevent further participation in the conflict and they may only be prosecuted for possible war crimes.
ACJPS urges the Government of Sudan to:
Guarantee the safety and well-being of all detainees; protect them from torture and other ill-treatment and grant them immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers, family members and medical services.