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

February 25, 2021 • Report

Eritrean Troops’ Massacre of Hundreds of Axum Civilians May Amount to Crime Against Humanity

Eritrean troops fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray state systematically killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in the northern city of Axum on November 28-29, 2020, opening fire in the streets and conducting house-to-house raids in a massacre that may amount to a crime against humanity, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

December 7, 2020 • Press Release

Amnesty International USA Hosts Human Rights Day Briefing on the Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

In advance of Human Rights Day, Amnesty International will host a virtual briefing on the human rights challenges expected in 2021. The briefing will focus on the human rights crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Hundreds in the Tigray region have lost their lives, many more have been injured, and tens of thousands of people have been forced into refugee camps in neighboring Sudan.

April 7, 2020 • Press Release

Armed conflicts and state repression in Africa fuel cocktail of human rights violations

HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFRICA: Protesters across sub-Saharan Africa have braved bullets and beatings to defend their rights in the face of continuing conflict and state repression, Amnesty International said today …

August 16, 2019 • Press Release

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir Must Not Escape International Trial

Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir must face justice for crimes under international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, that he allegedly committed in Darfur while in power, Amnesty International said ahead of the start of his trial on corruption charges on August 18 in Khartoum.

June 14, 2019 • Press Release

Urgent UN and AU investigation needed in Sudan after military admits deadly decision on protestor crackdown

Following an admission by Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) that they all met the country’s security chiefs on June 2, and after receiving undisclosed advice from the Attorney General and the Head of …

June 6, 2019 • Press Release

Sudan: Remove Rapid Support Forces from Khartoum streets immediately

Following the suspension of Sudan from the African Union after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led the horrific slaughter of more than 100 peaceful protestors over the past three days, Amnesty International’s …

June 3, 2019 • Press Release

International community should impose sanctions in Sudan on transitional authorities

Amnesty International today called on the international community to consider all forms of peaceful pressure, including targeted sanctions, on those members of the Sudanese transitional authorities responsible for this morning’s violent attack on sleeping protesters.

May 14, 2019 • Press Release

Omar al-Bashir must face justice for recent and past crimes

Following the announcement by Sudan’s Public Prosecutor that he will charge former president Omar al-Bashir with the recent killing of protestors, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn …

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 …

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. …