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.

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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.



South Sudan: UN Security Council must impose arms embargo to help end atrocities

5 July 2018, 19:02 UTC

As the UN Security Council meets today to review measures aimed at bringing long-overdue peace and stability to South Sudan, Amnesty International is reiterating its longstanding call for the imposition of a comprehensive arms embargo to cut off the supply of weapons being used to kill, maim and destroy the lives of the South Sudanese people.

The people of South Sudan have suffered gross human rights violations and the world has done very little to end them. The UN Security Council must step up and take a leadership role in ending these atrocities by stopping the flow of arms into South Sudan.

 “The people of South Sudan have suffered gross human rights violations and war crimes for more than four years now and the world has done very little to end them. The UN Security Council must step up and take a leadership role in ending these atrocities by stopping the flow of arms into South Sudan,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Amnesty International urges the Security Council and the international community, including manufacturers and suppliers of arms, to take decisive steps to end the mass atrocity crimes in South Sudan by drying up its supply of weapons.

We are asking all nations to show that they stand with civilians in South Sudan and stop selling or allowing arms destined for the country to be trafficked through their territories.

Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“We are asking all nations to show that they stand with civilians in South Sudan and stop selling or allowing arms destined for the country to be trafficked through their territories,” said Seif Magango.

Sudan: Human rights activist arbitrarily detained and at risk of torture must be immediately released

31 May 2018


Human rights activist and prisoner of conscience Husham Ali Mohammad Ali must be released from detention in Khartoum immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today. Husham Ali was deported from Saudi Arabia this week, arrested upon arrival in Sudan and detained at the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) headquarters.

“Having been a courageous political and online activist against torture and corruption Husham Ali is at great risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in the hands of the NISS. Pending his release, he must be granted unfettered access to a lawyer of his choice and to his family,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Husham Ali was arrested by the Saudi Arabian authorities in November 2017 and held in solitary confinement until January 2018, when he was moved to shared cell. In March 2018, he was moved from Dhaban prison to Al Shumaisi detention centre, an immigration centre outside Jeddah.

Amnesty International immediately raised alarm on his impending deportation asking the government of Saudi Arabia not to return him to Sudan, where he would be at risk of arrest, torture and other ill-treatment because of his human rights work. He was deported to Sudan on 29 May 2018.

“For at least the second time in two years, Saudi Arabia has violated with impunity the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits nations from returning individuals to countries where they would face risk of human rights violations or abuses,” said Joan Nyanyuki.

Amnesty International continues to call on the Sudanese authorities to urgently ratify the Convention against Torture and repeal or substantially amend all laws, especiallythe National Security Act (NSA) 2010, which foster the horrendous violation of human rights.


Husham Ali worked as a freelance accountant in Saudi Arabia, where he has resided since 2010 after immigrating for work purposes. He also wrote articles for various online forums. A political activist of many years, he took to online platforms in 2013 to expose government corruption.

He also published on torture in detention by the Sudanese authorities and expressed his support for acts of civil disobedience carried out during November and December 2016 in Sudan on his Facebook page.

Amnesty International documented in 2016 and 2017 the detention of three other Sudanese activists residing in Saudi Arabia; Elgassim Mohammed Seed Ahmed, 52, Elwaleed Imam Hassan Taha, 44, and Alaa Aldin al-Difana. They were arrested in Saudi Arabia in December 2016, for their online support to civil disobedience actions in Sudan in November and December 2016.

The three activists were deported to Sudan on 11 July 2017, and were also arrested upon arrival by the National Intelligence and Service Services (NISS) and held at the NISS headquarters in Khartoum North.

The NISS released Elwaleed Imam Hassan Taha and Alaa Aldin al-Difana on 22 August 2017 without a charge. Elgassim Mohamed Seed Ahmed remained in detention until he was released without a charge on 3 October 2017. They told Amnesty International that they had been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment during detention.

Sudan: Pro-government militia open deadly fire on IDP camp in Central Darfur

22 May 2018

Amnesty International has called for an immediate investigation into a deadly attack by a pro-government militia on an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Central Darfur, in which one woman was shot dead and at least 10 people injured.

On 21 May, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a pro-government militia, on board of five pick-up trucks and armed with machine guns, attacked the IDP camp in the city of Zalingei. A 22-year-old woman was shot in the head and later died in hospital. Ten others, including children, sustained serious head, neck, arm and leg injuries. The reasons for the attack remain unclear.

“The victims of this appalling attack were forced to flee from their homes by the violence that has plagued Darfur for years, and this camp was supposed to be a place of safety. Unless the perpetrators of gross human rights violations like this are brought to justice, the voluntary and safe return to home of Darfur’s displaced will remain a distant prospect,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

“We are calling on the Sudanese authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into this brutal attack, and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials.  All parties to the conflict in Darfur must stop attacks against civilians and ensure respect of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

According to information collected by Amnesty International, following yesterday’s attack, protesters gathered in front of the state government building, the hospital and the market in Zalingei to denounce the use of excessive force. The security forces arrested seven people including Abdel Karim Abdalla, a 26-year-old student activist. 

Amnesty International has closely monitored the conflict in Darfur since its eruption more than 15 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese remain displaced and face dire humanitarian conditions and serious human rights violations.

Amnesty International has received credible information and evidence that between August 2017 and April 2018, incidents of unlawful killings, rape, abduction, looting of villages and livestock, and torching of homes and arbitrary detention continue in Darfur.

Amnesty International recorded 244 incidents of unlawful killings in different parts of Darfur, allegedly committed by pro-government militias from August 2017 to April 2018. Approximately 75 percent of the incidents that led to loss of lives took place in North Darfur and Jebel Marra area.


Amnesty International has also received reports of sexual violence and prior research indicates that the pro-government militias, especially the RSF, are implicated in most of these violations.


South Sudan: UN Mission must boost efforts to protect civilians amid ongoing violence

14 March 2018

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) must boost efforts to protect civilians against the senseless violence that has plagued the country for over four years, and publicly report on the human rights situation, Amnesty International said today.

The UN Mission, whose mandate is set to be extended tomorrow, has a crucial role to play in providing much-needed civilian protection, and timely public reporting on the human rights situation in the country.  

“With the continuing conflict and associated human rights violations in South Sudan, the possibility of civilians returning to their homes or being resettled remains remote. The Protection of Civilians (POC) sites are truly life-saving for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate needof protection,” said Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“With its work in the country set to be extended, UNMISS must continue to guarantee that the civilian protection sites remain a safe haven amid the ongoing violence.”

Amnesty International is also calling on UNMISS to continue extending their protection to civilians in other areas outside the capital affected by fighting, and where humanitarian assistance is desperately needed.

The UN Mission must also improve its ability to protect South Sudanese civilians from sexual violence crimes both within and outside civilian protection sites.

In February 2018, a UN police unit charged with providing security for a civilian protection site in Wau, South Sudan, was accused of engaging in transactional sex with women under their protection. UNMISS recalled the 46-person unit and launched investigations into their conduct.

“UNMISS must take decisive action on all human rights violations within its own ranks and hold peacekeepers accountable following these accusations of sexual exploitation and abuse,” Joan Nyanyuki said.


UNMISS was originally established in 2011 with an initial mandate to help create the conditions for development in the newly-independent Republic of South Sudan. In March 2014, the Mission’s focus was shifted away from its peace and state-building functions to protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian assistance and monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in the country.

Since the beginning of the conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, civilians have been subjected to untold suffering. Both government and opposition forces have used denial of food as a weapon of war, imposing restrictions on civilian access to food, and as a result contributing to severe food insecurity.

Despite the signing of a Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 21 December 2017, government and opposition forces have continued fighting in different pockets of the country.

Public document

South Sudan: A Year On, 2 Men’s Whereabouts Unknown, Reveal Fate

24 January 2018
For Immediate Release


Whereabouts of Dong Samuel Luak, Aggrey Idri

South Sudanese authorities have failed to investigate the enforced disappearance in Nairobi of two South Sudanese men one year ago, and hold those responsible to account, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. Kenyan authorities should also step up their ongoing investigation into the enforced disappearances.  
Dong Samuel Luak, a well-respected South Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist, and Aggrey Idri, a vocal government critic and member of the opposition, disappeared off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively. They are believed to have been abducted by or at the request of South Sudanese officials.
“These two prominent men should not be allowed to simply vanish into thin air without a trace,” said Mausi Segun, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch. “Responsibility for the safety of both men lies with both South Sudan and Kenya, yet neither is making real efforts to solve their disappearance.”
Opponents of the South Sudan government, real or perceived, have been targets of abuse and threats apparently from government sources, even when outside the country’s borders. Numerous activists and opposition members who fled South Sudan have reported threats and intimidation by suspected South Sudanese government agents in the region. Luak fled South Sudan in 2013 but continued to denounce human rights abuses and corruption after he moved to Nairobi in August 2013.  
On January 27, 2017 a Kenyan court ruled that the men should not be deported, but by then both had been forcibly disappeared and presumably illegally transferred to Juba. In February 2017, non-governmental organizations and family representatives filed a habeas corpus petition in a Kenyan court for the men’s release, but the court found on February 22 that there was insufficient evidence that they were ever in Kenyan custody. The judge ordered police to open a criminal investigation, which is ongoing.
South Sudanese authorities denied having custody of the men or knowledge of their whereabouts. However, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch received credible reports that the two men had been seen in custody at the National Security Services (NSS) headquarters in Juba on January 25 and 26 2017 and were then removed from this facility on January 27. The two organizations believe they were transferred to another facility under the control of the South Sudanese government.
The forcible disappearance and return of the men to South Sudan, where they risk human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment, violates international law as well as regional and national Kenyan law. Enforced disappearances and torture are both crimes under international law in all circumstances and may be subject to prosecution as war crimes or crimes against humanity.  
While Kenyan authorities have denied any involvement in or knowledge of the illegal actions, in recent years, Kenya has allowed the deportation of several people with refugee status to their countries of origin. In November 2016, Kenyan authorities unlawfully deported James Gatdet Dak, a South Sudanese opposition member and spokesperson for the opposition leader Riek Machar, to South Sudan even though he had refugee status. He was held in solitary confinement at the NSS headquarters in Juba, then charged with treason and other crimes against the state in August 2017.
On December 29, an opposition official, Marko Lokior Lochapo, was abducted from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
Since South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013, the NSS has arbitrarily detained dozens of perceived opponents, often torturing and ill-treating them with electric shocks, beatings, and harsh conditions.  Authorities have also been responsible for enforced disappearances – in which authorities deny knowledge of a detention or abduction – as part of their campaign against those perceived to be government opponents.
On December 21, 2017, the South Sudan government and other opposition groups signed the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in an effort to revitalize the 2015 Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan. As part of the new agreement, the government is required to release all political prisoners and detainees, prisoners of war and anyone deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the conflict and hand them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“South Sudan should demonstrate it is serious about releasing political prisoners held unlawfully,” said Sarah Jackson. Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. “Both the South Sudanese and Kenyan authorities should urgently investigate and disclose the whereabouts and fates of the two men and ensure justice, truth and reparation for the crimes committed against them.”