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20 December 2016

Sudan - Family of jailed human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam concerned at his ongoing incommunicado detention and the risk of torture

Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is an internationally respected human rights defender who has, for many years, condemned human rights abuses by all sides involved in the ongoing conflict and has been a consistent advocate for peace. Dr. Mudawi was arrested at the University of Khartoum, where he is a professor of Mechanical Engineering, on 7 December 2016 with his longtime driver, Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar. Both men are currently being held without charge or access to their families and lawyers, apparently at NISS headquarters near Shande Bus Station. On 12 December, Nora Abaid, an accountant from Dr. Mudawi’s engineering company, Lambda Engineering, was arrested by NISS agents who approached her in an unmarked car.

NISS officers raided Dr. Mudawi’s home hours after his arrest on the evening of 7 December, and only confirmed to his family his detention five days later, on 12 December. Dr Mudawi’s family are shocked at the arbitrary nature of his arrest and the fact that he has been denied his legal and constitutional rights. To date his family is unaware what charges, if any, have been levelled against him. They have also been prevented from visiting him.

Given the well documented pattern of torture and ill treatment in Sudanese prisons, Dr. Mudawi’s family is seriously concerned for the physical well being of Dr Mudawi, Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar and Nora Abaid. Under the 2010 National Security Act (NSA), detainees can be held for up to four and a half months without judicial review.

According to a joint statement issued by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, and five other international human rights organisations, including Front Line Defenders, Dr. Mudawi’s arrest has sparked a wave of reprisals against his family and colleagues. Since his arrest, Dr. Mudawi’s family home has been under government surveillance, with NISS agents and vehicles parked outside the house.

Dr Mudawi’s family is increasingly concerned at the authorities’ attempts to link Dr Mudawi to the recent civil disobedience campaign.

“We are following with great concern leaked information regarding (NISS) attempts to link Dr Mudawi to the ongoing civil resistance and civil disobedience events in the country by alleging that he financed this social movement which we believe was inspired by the harsh economic situation, deteriorating living conditions and widespread corruption. This targeting has now reached the extent of arresting employees working at Mudawi's private company, Lamada Engineering Company, as the financial manager of the company, Mrs Norah Ebeid, was arrested from the premises of the company and is currently being held incommunicado in an unknown location. This raises our concern that the security apparatus is trying to link Dr Mudawi's activism in the field of human rights and as a human rights defender and his professional and private work as the director of Lambada Engineering Company, which works in water purification and manufacturing spare parts for national factories. There have been repeated attempts in the past to put pressure on him by impacting his livelihood. While the NISS continues to prevent us from visiting or seeing Dr Mudawi and has yet to release either Mrs. Norah Ebeid or his personal driver Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar, we are concerned that they could be subjected to torture and intimidation in order to build the conspiracy against Dr. Mudawi”.

Front Line Defenders and the members of the international coalition* join the family of Dr Mudawi in calling on the Sudanese authorities to :

  • immediately guarantee the safety of Dr. Mudawi, Mr. Mukhtar, and Mrs. Abaid,
  • grant them immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers and family members,
  • release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with regional and international standards.

We also condemn the ongoing silencing of political opposition members, activists, and human rights defenders through arbitrary detention and criminal charges, despite constitutional guarantees to the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The criminalisation and ban of human rights work is contradictory to the protections guaranteed by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other elements of international and regional human rights law.

*African Center for Justice and Peace Studies

Al Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment & Human development (KACE)

Darfur Bar Association

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

Front Line Defenders