Annual Report: Sudan 2013

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Annual Report: Sudan 2013

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On 1 March, the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein – the current Minister of National Defense – for 41 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the context of the situation in Darfur.

Refugees and migrants

Eritrean asylum-seekers and refugees were forcibly returned, despite Sudan's obligations under international law not to return people to a situation where they would face a real risk of human rights violations.

  • Nine asylum-seekers and one refugee were convicted in July of unlawfully entering Sudan, and were subsequently forcibly deported to Eritrea.
  • On 11 October, a 24-year-old Eritrean man was forcibly returned to Eritrea following a decision by a court in Kassala. He was arrested after going to a police station to claim asylum.

Freedom of expression

The government severely curtailed freedom of expression, using new forms of censorship, such as confiscating entire newspaper print runs; preventing the publication of articles or opinion pieces; banning certain journalists from writing for newspapers; and harassing editors in order to influence their choice of news coverage.

In January and February, authorities suspended three newspapers using provisions contained in the 2010 National Security Act, which allow the NSS to ban any publication containing information considered a threat to national security. Print runs of the newspaper Al Midan were seized by the authorities five times in March alone. On 2 January, three newspapers – Alwan, Rai Al Shaab and Al Tayyar – were shut down.

Journalists faced arrests, torture and other ill-treatment by members of the NSS and other security agents in Sudan. Many faced criminal charges and had their equipment confiscated, preventing them from carrying out their media work. More than 15 journalists remained banned from writing.

  • In April and May, Faisal Mohammed Saleh, a prominent columnist with several national newspapers, was repeatedly arrested and released, before being charged with “non-cooperation with a public agent”. Faisal Mohammed Saleh was acquitted on 31 May, but continued to face criminal charges for his 2011 reporting on the alleged rape of an activist by NSS agents.
  • Najla Sid Ahmed, a Sudanese video-blogger covering human rights violations in Sudan through interviews with activists and victims of human rights abuses broadcast on YouTube, was continuously harassed by the NSS and forced to go into exile.
  • Jalila Khamis Koko, a teacher from the Nuba Mountains and a member of the SPLM-N, remained in detention following her arrest in March. She had provided humanitarian support to displaced people from Southern Kordofan, and appeared in a YouTube video denouncing the conditions in the Nuba Mountains. In December the NSS pressed charges against Jalila Khamis Koko on six criminal counts, five of which were under the category of crimes against the state, including two which carry the death penalty.

Freedom of association and assembly

Authorities continued to severely restrict freedom of assembly.

The government repressed a wave of demonstrations which began on 16 June in response to price increases and developed into a wider protest movement seeking broader political change. Demonstrations occurred in the capital, Khartoum, and other cities as well as in provincial towns. From June to August, security forces used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition against largely peaceful demonstrators, causing deaths and injuries. Some women were reportedly subjected to repeated “virginity tests”, amounting to torture or other ill-treatment. Plain-clothed security officers, deployed in or near hospitals, arrested suspected demonstrators seeking treatment.