HRW calls to release remaining political detainees in Sudan

NUP Secretary General Sarah Nugdalla leaving Kober prison in Khartoum on 18 February 2018 (ST Photo)

February 22, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Human Right Watch has called for the release of Sudanese politicians who remain in jail without charge after their participation in the protests against the increase of bread price last January.

On 18 February the government announced the release of 80 political detainees and activists and kept in prisons some 90 people according to rights groups.

The opposition denounced the continued arbitrary detention of political leaders and activists particularly from the left forces saying the move aimed to create frictions between them.

In a statement on Thursday, Human Rights Watch may detainees are still held in unknown locations and without access to lawyer or family visits. Further, it casts doubts on the number of those freed on Sunday saying Sudanese government in fact only released around 50 people.

“Sudan’s tactic of silencing dissent through mass arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and other rights violations needs to stop,” said Jehanne Henry, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The world should know that, despite Sudan’s release of some protesters as the cameras rolled, dozens of activists remain hidden behind bars in limbo without access to their families, lawyers, or due process,” she further said.

The director of the National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Gosh has admitted the partial release of detainees. In a recent statement published in Khartoum, he said the release of the remaining political detainees depends on the conduct of their parties, alluding that they would not be freed unless they stop calling for protests against the rising prices.

The opposition National Umma Party (NUP) denounced Gosh statement and said the government hold hostages the political detainees.

The rights group pointed to the risk of ill-treatment and torture faces the detainees who are “elderly or suffer medical ailments”.

Sudanese journalist and activist Amal Habani who was released on 18 February told Human Rights Watch that detainees had been subjected to long interrogations and denied medications.

“She was hospitalized after security officials beat her during her arrest,” said the statement.

The rights group said the Sudanese government should seek to engage dialogue with the opposition to end the armed conflict and economic crisis devastating the country.

The “Instead of silencing critics, Sudan should engage with them to find solutions for these fundamental and persistent problems in its governance,” Henry said. “The route of repression will only breed more abuses and destruction of the rule of law.”