Sudan should Charge or release 248 individuals in prolonged detention – African Centre for Justice
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.
Charge or release all those arbitrarily detained, and for those charged, ensure prompt access to a lawyer of their own choosing.
Ensure that all detainees are brought promptly before a judge to review the legality and conditions of their detention, have the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court, and are guaranteed the right to fair trial according to international standards.
Undertake comprehensive law reform of the National Security Act 2010, Criminal Procedure Act 1991, Emergency Act 1997, to guarantee custodial guarantees including access to legal representation at all stage of proceedings, prompt information on details of arrest, judicial oversight, in line with international human rights law obligations.
Ensure that the humane treatment of prisoners of wars and adherence to conditions of detention according to international humanitarian law
To the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Mr. Aristide Nononsi, ACJPS humbly requests that during deliberations with the Sudanese authorities, to call on the Sudanese authorities:
Charge or release the 248 detainees in custody; guarantee them unequivocal access to families and legal representatives, special attention is drawn to the case of the 8 Darfurian students, 2 individuals from East Sudan and 20 members of the Ma’alia tribe detained in Khartoum and Port Sudan respectively;
Conduct an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of excessive use of force against peaceful protestors during the January 2018 protests including protest killings, ill-treatment and torture of detainees by police and NISS. Findings of such investigations should be made public and perpetrators should be held accountable before an independent and impartial tribunal.
Undertake comprehensive legal reform in relation to provisions on detention and repeal provisions allowing for indefinite detention without any judicial oversight. Such legal reform should ensure custodial safeguards such as prompt and unequivocal access to family members and lawyers to all those held in custody, repeal all legal provisions that grant immunities for Sudanese officials, and subject officials to the jurisdiction of ordinary courts.