Kenya, South Sudan: Investigate Critics’ Disappearance


12 February 2019

Kenyan Court Drops Oversight

The Kenyan police and the South Sudanese authorities should ensure effective, transparent and impartial investigations into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese critics in Nairobi more than two years ago, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation into the disappearances of Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition. They were snatched off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017 respectively. The families had initiated the petition for judicial review following concerns that the Kenyan Police had not effectively investigated.
“The families of Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Ezbon Idri have waited patiently for the truth for two years, their lives in limbo,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But this decision which lets Kenyan police off the hook, risks sending this case into oblivion and denying the families justice.”
The men’s disappearance is believed by their families and many who follow South Sudanese politics to be the result of collusion between South Sudan and Kenya, but both governments have denied having custody of the men, or knowledge of their whereabouts.
The Kenyan police have not officially requested information from the South Sudan government, nor has South Sudan’s government investigated the disappearances or officially requested information about the case from the Kenyan authorities.
Soon after the men were forcibly disappeared, their families filed a case before a Kenyan High Court seeking a writ of habeas corpus, to require the government to produce them in court. The court denied that petition, saying it could not establish that Luak and Idri were in custody but that a “criminal abduction by unknown persons” had taken place and that the police should thoroughly investigate the matter.
However, police investigations stalled. On April 20, 2017, the families sought judicial review and an order to the police to investigate the disappearance of the two men more thoroughly. In the following months, the court noted gaps in the police investigation, including the failure to seek information from the South Sudanese authorities and to interview witnesses and Kenya’s intelligence service. At a hearing on February 5, 2018, the police said they could not access some of the witnesses and they had no further leads but would keep the file open.
But the January 17, 2019 final judgement dismissing the petition stated that the police had acted “prudently and within the law.” The court said it is required to respect the police approach and timeline, and that families should pursue alternative administrative remedies such as filing a complaint with the Internal Police Oversight Authority. The decision ends any judicial oversight into the police action on the case.
“How long will this charade go on as the families of Luak and Idri continue to languish in agony over their loved ones?” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Credible sources told both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that they had seen both men in National Security Service (NSS) detention in Juba, South Sudan, on January 25 and 26, 2017. Information from South Sudan indicates that the men were moved from there on January 27 to an unknown location. Human rights organizations have documented the many serious human rights violations by NSS agents, including unlawful detention, ill-treatment, torture, and death in custody.
There have been more reports from former detainees corroborating that Dong and Aggrey were in South Sudanese custody in January 2017. In late 2018, a former detainee, William Endley, told the media that he had seen Aggrey and that others had confirmed seeing Dong at the prison in the NSS headquarters. But South Sudan’s government has remained silent and failed to investigate these reports.
If the two men are in the agency’s custody, as evidence strongly suggests, they are both at risk of abuse, including torture, the organizations said.
Dong was a registered refugee in Kenya, where he had lived since August 2013. Aggrey relocated to Kenya on a visitor’s pass after the conflict in South Sudan broke out in mid-December 2013 and was legally in the country at the time of his disappearance. Any acquiescence or cooperation by Kenyan authorities to the forced return of either man to South Sudan is a serious violation of Kenya’s international obligations.
This is not the first time that a South Sudanese refugee was forcibly disappeared from Kenyan territory, with the apparent agreement of the Kenyan government, and illegally returned to South Sudan. In December 2017, South Sudanese political opposition official, Marko Lokidor Lochapo was forcibly disappeared from the Kakuma refugee camp. He was detained without charge in the notorious “Blue House” detention facility in Juba until October 25, 2018.
In November 2016, Kenya deported James Gatdet Dak, then the spokesman for South Sudan’s political opposition, to South Sudan under great protest. Gatdet was subsequently sentenced to death by hanging for treason but pardoned on October 31, 2018. Gatdet’s account of his illegal deportation confirms collaboration between the highest levels of the Kenyan and South Sudanese governments.
The South Sudanese government’s inaction and unwillingness to investigate the disappearances and the status and whereabouts of Dong and Aggrey is an abdication of its binding legal obligations, demonstrates total disregard for the men’s fundamental rights, and exacerbates their families’ concerns, the organizations said.
“My biggest fear is to become a widow,” said Aya Benjamin, Idri’s wife. “When I think about it, my heart hurts. We are limited in our daily lives and usual activities and I have become depressed. I am not as hopeful as I was two years ago.”
“Dong’s disappearance has psychologically affected all of us especially his four daughters. He is their best friend,” said Polit James, Dong’s younger brother. “The hardest question I face is ‘Where is daddy? When is he coming home?’ You sometimes find them crying and writing emotional letters in their notebooks.”

Sudan: ‘Not guilty’ verdict welcome but torture in prison must be investigated


22 January 2019

Responding to the ‘not guilty’ verdict issued today at the re-trial of Sudanese student activist, Asim Omar Hassan, who was originally sentenced to death for killing a police officer during protests in 2016, Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

“We join Asim’s family in celebrating this good news which comes as a huge relief after he was originally sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit.”

“The authorities must however conduct an independent and effective investigation into allegations that he was tortured in prison. Though Asim has been acquitted, justice can only truly be done once the officials responsible for his ill-treatment are held to account, and he has been provided with appropriate redress for his injuries and imprisonment.”

The Sudanese authorities must review laws that allow for the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, notably by the National Intelligence and Security Services and the police.”



Asim Omar was arrested on 2 May 2016 and accused of killing a police officer during protests at the University of Khartoum the previous month. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to death on 24 September 2017.

He successfully appealed the sentence, and the judge ordered a re-trial of his case in August 2018. While in prison, he alleges that he was severely beaten by prison guards sustaining injuries on one of his legs, his testicles and his ears that rendered him incapable of appearing in court for one of the sessions.

Public Document


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Catherine Mgendi on:
+254 737 197 614

Verschlagwortet mit

Sudan: Security forces continue deadly onslaught on protestors and medical personnel

18 January 2019

Spokespersons available to take media interviews

Sudan’s security forces must stop their ongoing deadly onslaught on protesters and medical personnel, Amnesty International said today following the death of a doctor, a man and a child from gunshot wounds inflicted during the 17 January protests in Khartoum’s Burri district. 

The organization also received reports of further raids of medical facilities by security personnel, who fired teargas inside hospitals and assaulted doctors. 

“It is an outrage that Sudanese security forces continue to use lethal force on protestors and key service providers like doctors, killing people in an unbridled spree that is even affecting children, said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

The Sudanese authorities must immediately take charge of the security forces and ensure they stop using lethal force against protestors. They must also bring to an immediate end the continued onslaught against medical facilities and personnel, injured protestors and other people seeking treatment in hospitals, which constitutes violations of the rights to health and personal integrity.”

Amnesty International spoke to a medical doctor on duty at Al Faisal Specialized Hospital in Khartoum on Thursday, who said security forces raided the hospital in the afternoon, fired teargas and arrested him and another doctor, as well as two other medical staff. The medics, who were beaten during the arrest, were detained and interrogated at the National Intelligence and Security Services offices. He was released without charge after 8:30pm, while the others were released several hours later.

The organization also verified videos shared on social media and via WhatsApp showing security forces opening fire on protesters gathered at a football pitch near a mosque in Khartoum’s Burri district on Thursday. At least one fell to the ground as a result of his injury and had to be carried away by other protesters. The injured were reportedly taken to Royal Care Hospital, where many protesters remained overnight.  

On 17 January, Sudan’s security forces fired teargas into homes and buildings in the Burri area, an outright contravention of international guidelines on the use of force that require all force to comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality and forbid the use of teargas in confined spaces.

“This blatant violation of national and international laws must stop immediately, and independent and impartial investigations must be promptly launched into all allegations of human rights violations, including the deaths reported in the context of the protests, so that all those found responsible are brought to justice in fair trials,” said Sarah Jackson.

“By participating in these protests, the people of Sudan are exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Instead of trying to curtail these rights, the government should address the root causes of the economic crisis that has driven the people to the streets.”

Sudan: 37 protesters dead in government crackdown on demonstrations  

24 December 2018, 21:02 UTC

Amnesty International has credible reports that 37 protesters have been shot dead by the security forces in five days of anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the country.

“With further protest planned tomorrow, the fact that the security forces are using lethal force so indiscriminately against unarmed protesters is extremely troubling,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn.

“With dozens already dead, the government must rein in this deadly use of force and prevent more unnecessary bloodshed. Instead of trying to stop people from demonstrating, the authorities should be focusing on ending longstanding repression of human rights and resolving the economic crisis that have collectively precipitated these protests.”


For further information see

Sudan: Shooting of protestors must be immediately investigated

21 December 2018, 16:51 UTC                      

In response to security officers opening fire on protestors in Sudan leaving at least nine people dead, five of whom were students, and dozens more injured over the past two days, Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:        

“These killings must stop. Opening fire on unarmed protesters cannot be justified and what is clearly needed now is an independent, efficient investigation into these events. All those responsible for unnecessary or excessive use of force, including those with command responsibility, must be brought to justice.”

“The government must also immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.”

The government must address the root cause of the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in the country instead of trying to prevent people from fully exercising their right to protest against the growing hardships they are facing.


Sudan is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis which has led to a rise in the cost of fuel, electricity, transport, food and medicine provoking countrywide protests. Since 14 December, tens of thousands of people have been taking part in protests in different parts of the country including in Wad Madani, Port Sudan, Gebeit, Al-Qadarif, Atbara, Berber, Dongla, Karima, Al-Damazin, Al Obeid, Al Fasher, Khartoum and Omdurman. Security officers on Wednesday and Thursday shot at protestors to disperse them killing six people in Al Qadarif, one in Berber and two in Karima. The government has also shut down the internet since 20 December, in yet another attempt to stop the protests. 


Sudan: Relentless harassment, intimidation and censorship of journalists must end


Embargoed for 0001 hours GMT 2 November 2018

Sudanese authorities have this year been unrelenting in their quest to silence independent media by arresting and harassing journalists, and censoring both print and broadcast media, Amnesty International said today.

The organization documented the arrest and detention of at least 15 journalists between January and October 2018 by the government’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS). In addition, the entire print run of 10 newspapers was confiscated on at least 27 occasions. Al Jareeda, one of the last independent newspapers, has been confiscated at least 13 times this year. 

“Since the beginning of 2018 the Government of Sudan, through its security machinery, has been unrelenting in its crackdown on press freedom by attacking journalists and media organizations,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“Instead of embracing freedom of expression, the hostility directed towards independent media shows the lengths to which the Sudanese authorities will go to silence dissidence.”

Journalist arrests and intimidation

Virtually every month this year, journalists have been summoned and interrogated for several hours, with some being arrested and charged, and others imprisoned simply for doing their job.

On 29 October, the Press Court in Khartoum sentenced Zine El Abeen Al-A’jab, a former editor of Al Mustagila newspaper to one and a half months in prison, or a fine of 5,000 pounds ($104).

One of his charges was “dissemination of false information” under Article 66 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Act, for publishing two reports alleging that Sudan provides support to the Islamic state, and that the country received money from Qatar in 2015. He was also charged under Article 26 of the Press and Printed Materials Act for ‘responsibility of the editor-in-chief’.

On 23 and 16 October, five journalists – Osman Merghanie, Maha Al Telib, Lina Ygoub, Ashraf Abdel Aziz, and Shamel Al Nour – were summoned by the State Security Prosecutor and questioned about a meeting with the delegation of the European Union, European and United States diplomats on 2 October.

The journalists were taken to task for, among other things, tarnishing the reputation of the country and discussing the Press and Publication bill before it had been passed into law. “The authorities are not only trampling on press freedom and freedom of expression in the country, but they are also violating all manner of rights that journalists should be enjoying without restrictions,” said Sarah Jackson.

Amnesty International documented three instances when Ashraf Abdel Aziz, Editor-in-Chief of the highly targeted Al Jareeda newspaper, was summoned and interrogated for hours in the months of September and October. In March, he was arrested, charged and sentenced to one month in jail, or a fine of 35,000 Sudanese Pounds (about $740) for a story on corruption in the government.

Maha Al Telib, a journalist with the Al Tayar newspaper, who has been summoned and interrogated three times this year told Amnesty International she was questioned about a variety of articles she had written, including on the Islamic State in Libya, the US-Sudan relationship, and the South Sudan peace process.

“The reasons for summoning her were clearly arbitrary and she was asked to reveal her news sources during interrogations, which is outright unethical. This incessant harassment of journalists for reporting on pertinent events is forcing many reporters to self-censor for fear of being targeted by the authorities. No journalist should have to work under such circumstances,” said Sarah Jackson.

A couple of journalists were even banned from practicing journalism.

Salma Altigani, a UK-based Sudanese journalist told Amnesty International: “I was banned [by NISS] from writing for Akhbar Al Watan newspaper and Albaath Alsudani newspapers [in Sudan on 25 July]. Two months ago, I wrote an article about the genocide in Jebel Marra, Darfur for a Gulf country newspaper and the Sudanese ambassador in that country requested the newspaper to stop publishing my articles, and they informed me that I can’t write for them anymore.”

Another journalist, Ahmed Younis, who writes for the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat was summoned and interrogated on 8 May and again on 10 June about articles on corruption in the Sudan Railway Corporation, confiscation of newspapers and political tensions within the ruling National Congress Party. This resulted in the revocation of his license to work in Sudan on 14 June. His license was reinstated in September.

Newspapers confiscated

Over the course of 2018, Amnesty International also noted an increase in pre-press censorship whereby newspaper editors receive a daily call from NISS agents to discuss their planned editorial content and are asked to justify their storylines.

NISS agents also often show up at newspaper printing presses to review each edition ordering editors to drop certain stories before publication, or altogether confiscate entire print-runs.

“Journalists and the media remain a vital component in realizing the right to freedom of information and must be allowed to do their work without such interference and intimidation,” said Sarah Jackson.

Between May and October, the Al Jareeda newspaper was confiscated at least 13 times, Al Tayar was confiscated five times and Al Sayhafour times. A host of other newspapers including Masadir, Al Ray Al Aam, Akhirlahza, Akhbar Al Watan, Al Midan, Al Garar and Al Mustugliawere each confiscated once or twice.

TV talk shows banned

The broadcast media has not been spared either.

On 10 October, the NISS suspended a political talk show – State of the Nation hosted by Sudania24 TV – after they interviewed a commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and he defended his militia against accusations of human rights violations.

On 31 August, another talk show on Omdurman TV was also banned after interviewing politicians who criticized a decision of the ruling National Congress Party to nominate President Omar Al-Bashir to stand for a third term in 2020.

“The Sudanese authorities must stop this shameful assault on freedom of expression and let journalists do their jobs in peace. Journalism is not a crime,” said Sarah Jackson.”

“Sudan must amend the laws that are being used to trample on press freedomin the name of regulation, and instead enable and facilitate freedom of expression in the country.”

Amnesty International calls on the Sudanese government to immediately revise the Press and Printed Materials Act of 2009, to align it with international standards that allow freedom of the press and freedom of expression to flourish.

Public Document


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact
Catherine Mgendi on:
+254 737 197 614


Sudan: Brutal beating that led to hospitalization of imprisoned student must be investigated

11 October 2018, 18:41 UTC


The brutal beating of 24-year-old student activist Asim Omar Hassan by prison guards in Kober prison must be independently and thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today as he was admitted to hospital.

Asim Omar was repeatedly beaten with blunt instruments and whipped across his chest until he fainted. He was unable to appear in court because of his injuries.               

According to his lawyers, on 3 October – just days before he was due in court for the hearing of his case, now under re-trial – Asim Omar was repeatedly beaten with blunt instruments and whipped across his chest until he fainted. He was unable to appear in court because of his injuries, prompting the court to order his hospitalization.

“This young man has already suffered enormously at the hands of the politically compromised justice system in Sudan. He has been in detention for more than two years, held in at least three different detention centres, where he was severely beaten and subjected to other torture during interrogations,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Asim Omar was arrested on 2 May 2016 and accused of killing a police officer during protests at the University of Khartoum the previous month. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and sentenced to death on 24 September 2017.

He has been in detention for more than two years, held in at least three different detention centres, where he was severely beaten and subjected to other torture during interrogations.        

However, Sudan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction on appeal, rescinded the death penalty and ordered a re-trial on grounds including the fact that key witnesses were prevented from testifying and the prosecution was seen in open court providing its witnesses with answers.

“The Sudan authorities must do everything they can to ensure Asim Omar is safe and gets a fair trial following the overturning of his conviction and death sentence just a couple of months ago. He must not be subjected to any further torture or any other ill-treatment, harassment or intimidation,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

“His family and lawyers must also be allowed full access to him to ensure the second trial is free and fair.”

Sudan: Five years on, no justice for 185 protesters shot dead by security forces


09 October 2018

The Sudanese authorities are yet to bring  to justice a single person for the killing of at least 185 people who were shot either in the head, chest or back by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and the police during the country’s infamous September 2013 protests on the high cost of living, Amnesty International said today in a statement to the UN Human Rights Committee.

“Without a single conviction five years on, it is clear that the investigations have either been woefully inadequate, or there is a cover-up to protect the officers deployed to quell the protests. This points to deeply ingrained impunity in Sudan,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

The government claims it established three State Commissions of Inquiry to investigate the September 2013 protest killings, but the findings have not been made public, and no one suspected to be responsible has been brought to justice for the killings.

“The families of all those killed are still waiting helplessly for truth, justice and reparations. So far only one suspect has been brought to court and charged – their case was dismissed and the suspect freed,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) published a report documenting excessive and deadly use of force during the protests. As well as 185 deaths, hundreds more were injured and about 800 people arbitrarily arrested, held for weeks, tortured and subjected to other ill-treatment.

“When we critically look at Sudan’s human rights record in the past four years, we see limited progress. Whether it’s university students, journalists, human rights defenders or minority groups such as the Darfuris – all have experienced first-hand the ugly unrelenting force of repression in Sudan,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

Amnesty International calls on Sudan to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists can carry out their human rights activities without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or reprisals.



Today the United Nations Human Rights Committee will perform a fifth review of the human rights record of Sudan, focused on the country’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Amnesty International made a submission in September 2018, which is under consideration today.



South Sudan: Juba prison revolt underscores deep problems in justice system

7 October 2018, 11:58 UTC

Responding to a revolt in the Blue House National Security Service (NSS) detention facility in South Sudan’s capital Juba overnight, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said:

“South Sudanese authorities should urgently de-escalate the situation at the notorious Blue House detention facility, where prolonged incommunicado detention, torture and deaths in custody are rife.”                                                            

“Independent observers should be able to monitor any intervention by authorities to help prevent the use of excessive force or other human rights violations. Any use of force must be a last resort and in strict compliance with international law. The right to life and personal security of everyone, including prison guards and bystanders, must be respected.”

“The Blue House revolt points to deep problems within South Sudan’s justice system. President Salva Kiir should keep his promise to release detainees unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence. Concerted action is needed to improve the dire conditions in detention.”


Sudan: Downsized UN mission not an option amid ongoing attacks in Darfur


Ahead of a critical vote at the UN Security Council on Saturday that will consider the restructuring and downsizing of the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Amnesty International is releasing exclusive satellite and photo images showing extensive damage caused by ongoing attacks on villages in the region.

The images show at least 18 villages in the eastern parts of the Jebel Marra area of Darfur were burnt by government and allied militia forces over the past three months. These images corroborate witness accounts, earlier collected by Amnesty International, from at least 13 affected villages.

“The UN Security Council must not and cannot abandon the people of Darfur by downsizing UNAMID, their only source of security and safety,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“For hundreds of thousands of displaced Darfuris, the ongoing looting and burning of their homes makes the prospect of returning to their villages unthinkable.”

Between March and May 2018, government forces and pro-government militias, especially the Rapid Support Force, attacked and burned villages in south-east Jebel Marra during military operations against the Sudan Liberation Army Al-Waahid (SLA/AW).

Between 12,000 and 20,000 people were displaced as a result of these attacks and are currently living in caves in the Jebel Marra Mountains in extreme hardship and with no access to humanitarian assistance.

“The Sudanese government has clearly failed to protect its own citizens, and this must not be allowed to continue. On its part, the UN Security Council must continue the mandate of UNAMID to protect and safeguard the lives and human rights of the people of Darfur,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

More than 1.5 million displaced people in the Darfur region of Sudan are unable to return home, 15 years after the start of the conflict.