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31 January 2019

Ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders

In Sudan, security forces have carried out another wave of arrests targeting human rights defenders, in reprisal for the continuing protests. Over the last month, dozens of human rights defenders including women human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and academics have been arbitrarily arrested, not only during street protests, but also at their homes and places of work.

On 31 January 2019, Sudanese security forces detained Nazim Siraj, a doctor and human rights defender who has been active in different youth groups and who has been the coordinator for “Accidents Street”, an initiative providing free medical treatment and rehabilitation to Sudanese citizens, including to victims of human rights abuses.

On 30 January 2019, writer and human rights lawyer Kamal Al jazouli was arrested from his office. On 28 January 2019, security forces detained human rights defender and economist Sedgi Kabalo at his house and took him to an unknown place. Journalist and member of the Sudanese Journalist’s Network, Adel Ibrahim, remains in detention in an unknown location since his arrest on 15 January.

Many of the women human rights defenders who were involved in leading the peaceful protests have been also detained in the last two weeks. Although some were subsequently released, more than 16 women human rights defenders remain behind bars. They include leading members of the Sudanese Women’s Union (SWU), among them Dr. Ihsan Faqiri, Dr. Amal Jabr and Adeela Al-Zaibaq. Lawyers Hanan Nour, Hanadi Fadl, Samia Arqawi, and Amani Othman. Prominent journalists and women human rights defenders, Somia Ishaq and Amani Idriss, also continue to be detained. Some have been denied access to a lawyer or family visits and some remain in need of urgent medical assistance.

On 13 January 2019, doctor and woman human rights defender Heba Omar Ibrahim was arrested and pressured by police officers to reveal the names of other human rights defenders working in the health sector.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests and repression by the Sudanese authorities which continue to target activists and human rights defenders.

Front Line Defenders calls on the government of Sudan to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, as Front Line Defenders believes that they are being held solely as a result of their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;
  2. Ensure that the treatment of all human rights defenders, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;
  3. Cease targeting human rights defenders and activists in Sudan and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.