Alkarama is deeply concerned by the ongoing crackdown against peaceful opposition politicians and demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan. This repression led to the arbitrary arrest and detention of dozens of political opponents by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in November 2016. As a result of these grave violations, on 19 December 2016, Alkarama and the Arab Coalition for Sudan (ACS) solicited various United Nations Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council (SPs), asking them to intervene with the Sudanese authorities, particularly regarding the arbitrary arrests and secret detention of Abubaker Yousif Babikir, Omer Yousif, Suleiman Omer Khalifa Babikir, Yousif Babikir and Nor El Din Al Amin Babikir, all members of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP).
Social unrest, peaceful political activism and State repression in Sudan
At the beginning of November 2016, Sudan’s government announced that it would raise prices of fuel, electricity and medicines in the country, therefore triggering social unrest and discontent. Austerity measures come at a moment of serious economic recession, whereby inflation is skyrocketing, with unemployment and poverty rising. As a result, oppositional political forces – including members of the SCoP – started organising and participating in peaceful protests in Sudan’s capital, calling for peaceful resistance and reforms. These were met with heavy repression from security forces, who arrested and detained dozens of individuals in the following days. Activists and civil society have been calling for “civil disobedience” all throughout the country and peaceful resistance to the economic measures adopted by the government. State repression vis-à-vis peaceful demonstrators is not new to Sudan; accordingly, Alkarama reported in May 2016 about summary executions and arbitrary arrests in South Kordofan’s university campuses.
Arbitrary arrest and secret detention of members of the Sudanese Congress Party
Between 4 and 8 November 2016, in the aftermath of peaceful demonstrations that shook Khartoum, dozens of peaceful political opponents were abducted by members of the Sudanese NISS in retaliation for their political affiliations and peaceful political activism. Amongst these, five members of the SCoP – Abubaker Yousif Babikir, Omer Yousif, Suleiman Omer Khalifa Babikir, Yousif Babikir and Nor El Din Al Amin Babikir – were abducted by the NISS. Albeit the Ministry of Information publicly acknowledged their detention on 9 November 2016, they remain secretly detained to date, and Sudanese authorities have denied any information over their fates and whereabouts. Furthermore, accounts of ill-treatment and torture inside NISS facilities raise concern over the five victims’ mental and physical wellbeing.
“It is unfortunate and regrettable to witness such harsh repression at the hands of the Sudanese government, whenever individuals stage peaceful demonstrations or call for peaceful resistance,” said Simone Di Stefano, Alkarama's Regional Legal Officer on the Nile, adding that “such repression does not comply with Sudan’s international obligations, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that the country ratified in 1986.”
As a result, on 19 December 2016 Alkarama and ACS solicited various UN experts, including those of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (SR FPAA), to request that they intervene with the Sudanese authorities to ask to release them, to guarantee the victims’ health, to bring them under the protection of the law and to authorise their families to visit them. Additionally, impartial and independent investigations should be launched in case of any accounts of torture and ill-treatment. Alkarama therefore urges the Sudanese authorities to release all individuals secretly detained and calls on the Sudanese authorities to act in compliance with their international legal obligations.
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