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Sudan Human Rights

Amnesty International has warned of increasing human rights violations in Sudan ahead of the country's referendum on southern independence on January 9, 2011.  Widespread human rights abuses by the government and armed groups are a daily occurrence in Sudan. Although the conflict in Sudan has recently been less intense than it has been in the past, all sides to the conflict continue to commit violations of international humanitarian law, such as attacks on civilians and on humanitarian convoys. Violence against women, including rape, remains widespread, particularly in Darfur in and around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Throughout Sudan, the government routinely represses human rights defenders, political opponents and ordinary civilians, subjecting many to torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Conflict in Darfur

Hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have lost their lives since the Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003. Systematic human rights abuses have occurred, including killing, torture, rape, looting and destroying of property by all parties involved in the conflict, but primarily by the Sudanese government and government-backed Janjawid militia. Though the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, and Genocide related to abuses in Darfur, widespread, systematic, and grave abuses persist. Disturbingly, the government continues to restrict humanitarian aid in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. Darfuris also continue to face arbitrary arrest and detention, often resulting in torture and ill-treatment, at the hands of the National Intelligence and Security Services.

Sudan and the International Criminal Court

On March 4th, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it had issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir on seven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state. The arrest warrant for President al Bashir follows arrest warrants issued by the ICC for former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior Ahmad Harun and Janjawid militia leader Ali Kushayb. The government of Sudan has not surrendered either suspect to the ICC.

The National Security Service in Sudan & Freedom of Expression

Amnesty International has documented in recent years a wide range of human rights violations committed by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, as well as violations to the right to freedom of expression.

The extensive powers provided to NISS agents under the 1999 National Security Forces Act and the 2010 National Security Act, as well as the immunities provided under both acts, have allowed NISS agents to commit human rights violations with impunity in Sudan.

Journalists are regularly arrested and detained for carrying out their work and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) often control the press through strict pre-print censorship. Journalists can be prosecuted for their work under several broad and imprecise provisions of Sudanese law. Defying the censorship rules places journalists and editors at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. One journalist told Amnesty International that it was almost impossible to publish articles on human rights in national newspapers, because of self-imposed censorship.

AI has noted an increase in violations of civil and political rights in the north of Sudan since the April 2010 presidential and parliamentary elections. These violations include a clamp down on freedom of expression such as the targeting of human rights defenders and journalists, and the resumed pre-print censorship that the NISS has been imposing on newspapers since May 2010.

Women's Rights in Sudan

Sudanese women face a daily risk of being arbitrarily arrested in public or private places for "indecent or immoral behavior or dress." Public Order Police Officers in Sudan have the power to decide what is decent and what is not. In most cases women are arrested for wearing trousers or knee length skirts.

Such behavior can be punishable by up to 40 lashes according to article 152 of the Sudanese Criminal Act of 1991. Judges have even exceeded the legal limit in some instances and punished women and girls by up to 50 lashes. These punishments amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and affect women as well as girls under 18 in Sudan.

In July 2009, Lubna Hussein, broke the silence around these laws. Lubna, a Sudanese journalist with the UN, was arrested with 12 other women for wearing trousers. She chose to challenge her arrest in court and launch a public campaign calling for the abolishment of article 152 of the 1991 Criminal Act.

Article 152 is part of a broader set of laws and practices, known as the public order regime, which allow the imposition of corporal punishment for what is seen as immoral behavior in public or private sometimes, affecting a wide range of men and particularly women throughout Sudan.

The media attention Lubna Hussein's case obtained brought the punishment of flogging into the public spotlight. Large numbers of women are regularly arrested under these laws, but many remain silent because of the trauma of their arrest and punishment and/ or out of fear of the social stigma they would suffer from if people heard of their arrest.

Sudan Newsroom



November 28, 2018 • Press Release

Amnesty International launches world’s biggest human rights campaign

Women human rights defenders around the world are facing unprecedented levels of abuse, intimidation and violence, said Amnesty International as it launched its global Write for Rights campaign, in a bid to shine a spotlight on brave women who have been harassed, jailed, tortured or even killed for their human rights work. Women continue to …

November 1, 2018 • Press Release

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

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 …

June 17, 2018 • Report

Israel: African asylum-seeker deportations and “voluntary” transfers are forced and illegal

The Israeli government’s transfers of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers is cruel and illegal, Amnesty International said today, as it released a new report titled Forced and Unlawful: Israel’s Deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum-Seekers to Uganda. In October 2017, Israel announced that it would start deporting Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to an unnamed “third country” in Africa …

May 10, 2018 • Press Release

Sudan: Death sentence for raped teenager is an intolerable cruelty

A Sudanese court’s sentencing today of a 19-year-old woman to death for killing her rapist husband in self-defence highlights the failure of the authorities to tackle child marriage, forced marriage and marital rape, Amnesty International said today. Noura Hussein Hamad has been held in the Omdurman Women’s Prison since May 2017, and was today handed …

April 11, 2018 • Press Release

Sudan: Release of political activists is their right, not a gift!

Following news that Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has released at least 56 opposition activists after they spent up to 84 days in arbitrary detention for protesting against the escalating cost of food and healthcare, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki said: “We welcome the news of their …

May 25, 2017 • Press Release

Discriminatory Muslim Ban Again Defeated in Court

Following a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blocking President Trump’s revised Muslim ban, Margaret Huang, executive director Amnesty International USA had the following reaction:

December 23, 2016 • Press Release

South Sudan: Arms embargo, sanctions fail at UN Security Council

The United Nations Security Council’s failure to approve a 23 December, 2016, resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan and placed a travel ban and asset freeze on three senior South Sudanese leaders was deeply disappointing, seven non-governmental groups said today. The measure failed to gain the nine votes needed to …

October 24, 2016 • Report

We did not believe we would survive: Killings, rape and looting in Juba

South Sudanese government forces are responsible for deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls and looting property in July in Juba, the country’s capital, Amnesty International said in a new report launched today.

October 11, 2016 • Press Release

Sudan: International chemical weapons investigation urgently needed into horrific Jebel Marra attacks

Member states of the international body responsible for monitoring the use of chemical weapons must trigger an investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attacks in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, revealed by Amnesty International last month. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council will start a three-day meeting at the …

October 7, 2016 • Press Release

Digital volunteers to expose Darfur human rights violations in ‘revolutionary’ crowdsourcing project

Amnesty International is building a network of digital volunteers to help uncover human rights violations and abuses in the conflict-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur as part of a revolutionary crowdsourcing project launched today. The Decode Darfur interactive platform will enable Amnesty International supporters to analyse thousands of square kilometres of satellite imagery in remote parts …