Sudan - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in REPUBLIC OF SUDAN

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Head of state and government: Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: signed

A Darfur Peace Agreement negotiated in Abuja, Nigeria, was signed in May by the government and one faction of the opposition armed groups in Darfur, but conflict, displacement and killings increased. The government failed to disarm the armed militias known as the Janjawid, who continued to attack civilians in Darfur and launched cross-border raids into Chad. Hundreds of civilians were killed in Darfur and Chad, and some 300,000 more were displaced during the year, many of them repeatedly.

Displaced people in Darfur and Darfuri refugees in Chad were unable to return to their villages because of the lack of security. In August government forces launched a major offensive in North Darfur and Jebel Marra, which was accompanied by Janjawid raids on villages and continued at the end of 2006. The air force frequently bombed civilians.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was unable to stop killings, rapes and displacement of civilians or looting. Government security services arbitrarily detained suspected opponents incommunicado and for prolonged periods. Torture was widespread and in some areas, including Darfur, systematic. Human rights defenders and foreign humanitarian organizations were harassed. Freedom of expression was curtailed. The authorities forcibly evicted displaced people in poor areas of Khartoum and people in the Hamdab area where a dam was being built. Armed opposition groups also carried out human rights abuses.

Background

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement remained in effect, although clashes between tribal or government-supported militias and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) continued in some areas. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Government of South Sudan, was appointed First Vice-President of the Government of National Unity (GNU) led by head of state Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir. Thousands of displaced people and refugees returned home to the south, but many remained in refugee camps in neighbouring countries or displaced in Khartoum. The CPA provided for joint commissions, some of which had either not been set up by the end of 2006, including the Human Rights Commission, or were not functioning effectively, such as the National Petroleum Commission.

Southern members of the GNU were not consulted on important issues such as the crisis in Darfur, and complained that the south's share of oil revenues was insufficient. The government of Sudan still rejected the July 2005 report of the Abyei Boundary Commission and took no steps to implement the Abyei Protocol, which provided for shared government in the oil-rich border area of Abyei.

In June the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement was signed in Asmara, Eritrea, by the Sudanese government and the Eastern Sudan Front, which included the Beja Congress and the Free Lions Movement representing the Rashaida ethnic group. The state of emergency in eastern Sudan was lifted.

Sudan acceded to the two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. The National Assembly passed the Organization of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act in March which placed restrictions on the work of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Official commissions of inquiry set up in previous years failed to report their findings including those into the deaths in custody of Popular Congress detainees in September 2004 and the killings of demonstrators in Port Sudan in January 2005.

International scrutiny of Darfur

In March the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) called for the transition to a UN force from the AMIS peacekeeping force in Darfur. The effectiveness of AMIS was impeded by lack of equipment and funding, internal organizational problems, and restrictions placed on its activities by the government.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), a large UN multidimensional peacekeeping force set up under the CPA, had more than 10,000 troops in the south and in Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in the north. In August the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1706 to send a UN force to protect civilians in Darfur, which the government rejected. An agreement by the PSC in December, to extend the AMIS mandate for six months until June 2007 and move to a strengthened, hybrid African Union/UN force in Darfur, was accepted by the government.

A Panel of Experts, set up under a Security Council resolution to monitor the 2005 arms embargo, reported on several occasions that all sides were breaching it. A Security Council resolution in May ordered a travel ban and assets freeze on four individuals named by the Panel.

There were regular reports to the Security Council by the UN Secretary-General, the human rights component of UNMIS, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan. In September the government ordered the expulsion of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sudan, Jan Pronk, after he described government defeats in North Darfur and commented on low army morale in his personal weblog.

In December a Special Session on Darfur of the UN Human Rights Council resolved to send a five-member high-level mission to assess the human rights situation in Darfur.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court visited Khartoum in February and June, but did not visit Darfur or issue any indictments in 2006. He presented six-monthly reports to the UN Security Council. In December he said his Office was seeking to finalize submissions to the judges to be made in February 2007.

Southern Sudan

Clashes continued between the SPLA and government-supported militias, and between rival ethnic groups.

• In Jonglei State scores of civilians were reportedly killed in April and May during clashes between armed groups and direct attacks on villages. Some 30 civilians were killed in Malakal in November in severe fighting between the SPLA and southern militias incorporated in the Sudanese armed forces.

Arbitrary detentions were widespread.

• Charles Locker, Executive Director of the NGO, Manna Sudan, was detained by local authorities in Ikotos in July, and subsequently detained without charge or trial in Torit until September. He appeared to have been detained for criticizing the role of the governor of Eastern Equatoria state and other local government authorities in tribal clashes.

Darfur

A Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed in May by the government and one faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) led by Minni Minawi. Other armed opposition groups, including the SLA and the Justice and Equality Movement, refused to sign. Most displaced people opposed the agreement, which was felt to lack guarantees for safe return and compensation. In demonstrations which turned into riots in many camps for the displaced, there were deaths, including of police officers, and numerous arrests. Some individuals and groups later signed the peace agreement. Under the DPA's terms, Minni Minawi was appointed Senior Assistant to the President. However, a government promise to disarm the Janjawid was broken, as it had been after numerous previous agreements, and none of the agreed commissions was operating by the end of 2006, including the Compensation Commission. Some Janjawid were incorporated into the armed forces or remained in paramilitary units and continued receiving financial and material assistance from the government.

The government took no action to halt cross-border Janjawid attacks against targeted ethnic groups in Chad, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and tens of thousands of displacements during the first half of the year. Attacks across the border resumed in October, in which some 500 civilians were unlawfully killed, many more were raped, thousands were driven from their homes, and villages were destroyed (see Chad entry). In total, 100,000 people were displaced by such attacks in Chad.

A number of armed groups which opposed the DPA regrouped as the National Redemption Front in June. After a massive troop build-up in Darfur in August, the government launched an offensive against areas controlled by those groups in North Darfur and Jebel Marra. Government aircraft indiscriminately or directly bombed civilians. Forces of the SLA Minawi faction also attacked civilians. In November, Janjawid killings and forcible displacements of civilians in villages near areas controlled by armed opposition groups increased. Members of armed opposition groups were responsible for attacking humanitarian convoys, abducting aid workers, and reportedly killing and torturing civilians.

• In July more than 72 people, including some 11 primary school pupils, were killed during attacks by the SLA Minawi faction, at the time allied with the government, on villages apparently under SLA control in North Darfur. AMIS was accused of failing to answer pleas for help.

• The Gereida region was insecure throughout 2006, with scores of villages destroyed in attacks by Janjawid or other armed groups. Some 80,000 people fled the camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Gereida after fighting between forces of the SLA Minawi faction and the Justice and Equality Movement in October.

• In November at least 50 civilians were killed, including 21 children under 10, when Janjawid attacked eight villages and an IDP camp in Jebel Moon in West Darfur. AMIS forces arrived the day after the attack. The Governor of West Darfur promised an inquiry but no findings had been made public by the end of 2006.

Violence against women

Rapes of women by Janjawid militias in Darfur remained systematic. Most rapes of women took place when they ventured outside IDP camps to collect firewood.

Other women were raped after Janjawid attacks on villages. The perpetrators benefited from almost complete impunity. Authorities routinely took no effective action to investigate women's complaints of rape. At worst, raped women were arrested for adultery.

• In May military police travelling by train to Nyala raped six women near Belail IDP Camp. Community leaders reported the rapes to the police, who immediately arrested three men. By the following day they had all been released.

• Janjawid accompanying the armed forces offensive in North Darfur in September captured five girls and women aged between 13 and 23 in the village of Tarmakera, south of Kulkul. They were reportedly raped and severely beaten before being released the following day.

Violence against demonstrators

Excessive force was used against many demonstrations opposing government policy.

• Peaceful demonstrations against price rises in petrol and sugar in Khartoum on 30 August were put down with tear gas and batons by the police. Sentences of up to two months' imprisonment for public order offences were passed on 80 people.

Freedom of expression

Freedoms of expression and association were curtailed. Journalists were frequently arrested and newspapers censored and seized.

• A meeting of national and international NGOs in advance of the African Union summit in Khartoum in January, attended by AI delegates, was raided by National Security agents. Three of the participants were briefly detained.

• In February, five members of the non-governmental Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) were detained for several hours after they held a training session in human rights monitoring in al-Da'ein University in South Darfur.

• Abdallah Abu Obeida, a correspondent for Al-Ra'y al-'Amm newspaper, was detained incommunicado for two weeks in October. He was questioned about Darfur before being released without charge.

Human rights defenders were harassed and sometimes detained.

• Mossaad Mohammed Ali and Adam Mohammed Sharif, two human rights lawyers, were briefly detained in May. They were working with the non-governmental Amal Centre, which provides legal aid and rehabilitation for torture victims. Adam Mohammed Sharif was freed the following day, but Mossaad Mohammed Ali was held for five days before being released after worldwide protests. They were not charged and no reason was given for their detention.

Detentions

The security forces, in particular the National Security Agency, arbitrarily detained people incommunicado and without charge or trial.

• Ali Hussein Mohammed Omar and two other members of the Beja Congress were arrested in March in Kassala, ill-treated and held for 10 weeks in secret locations without being charged and without access to their families or lawyers.

• In Khartoum in September scores of Darfuris and others were arrested and held incommunicado without formal charges, allegedly in the context of the murder of Mohammed Taha, editor of al-Wifaq newspaper. His killing in September appeared to be politically motivated. Those detained included Abulgasim Ahmed Abulgasim, who had been summarily deported from Saudi Arabia (see Saudia Arabia entry).

Scores of displaced people were detained in May during demonstrations and riots against the DPA in numerous IDP camps in Darfur.

• Mohammed Osman Mohammed and two others were arrested after police fired live ammunition at protesters in Otash IDP camp in May. The same day, police used excessive force against scores of demonstrators, including women, as they carried a memorandum of concerns about the DPA to the UN office in Nyala. Scores were arrested and 25 remained in detention awaiting trial at the end of 2006.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments and torture

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments such as flogging were imposed for offences including the brewing of alcohol or adultery. Torture continued to be used systematically against certain groups, including students and detainees in Darfur.

• In February scores of students from Juba University in Khartoum were beaten with batons by armed police and security services after they gathered to call for the university to be relocated to Juba. Some 51 were detained and, according to reports, taken to secret centres known as "ghost houses" where they were beaten, deprived of food and not allowed access to legal counsel or their families.

• Ibrahim Birzi reportedly died as a result of torture and is thought to have been buried secretly. He was one of 13 internally displaced people from Foro Baranga, south of al-Jeneina in Darfur, who were arrested in September, severely beaten with bicycle chains and leather whips, and had their heads submerged under water. They were reportedly suspected of being supporters of the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M).

Trials and death sentences

Appeal courts and criminal courts in Khartoum acquitted political detainees in some trials. However, in the majority of trials, rights of defence were curtailed or absent, and testimony given under duress was accepted as evidence. Dozens of death sentences were passed, usually after unfair trials in which rights of defence, including the right to be represented by counsel, were not respected.

• In April the remaining 10 defendants in a trial of Popular Congress members were acquitted after the Special Court in Khartoum North accepted that their confessions were obtained under torture. They had been arrested in September 2004 and charged with an attempted coup.

• In a trial before the Khartoum Criminal Court of 137 residents of Soba Aradi, a settlement of mostly displaced people in Khartoum North, 62 detainees were acquitted in June and August for lack of evidence. They were charged in connection with clashes in May 2005, in which 14 police officers and 30 IDPs were killed, over the proposed relocation of the settlement. Seven defendants were sentenced to death in November.

In Darfur, trials before Specialized Criminal Courts set up in 2003 to try crimes such as banditry failed to meet international fair trial standards. In some cases, the courts admitted as evidence confessions reportedly made under duress and later retracted in court.

Trials before the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur (SCCED) have mostly been for ordinary offences unconnected with crimes under international law in Darfur. The Court's inauguration in July 2005 coincided with the opening of the investigation by the International Criminal Court into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

• In the only case involving attacks on civilians known to have come before the SCCED, three men, including two border guards, were sentenced to up to three years' imprisonment in May for stealing goods in the village of Tama in October 2005. No one was charged in connection with the killing of 28 civilians during the attack.

Forced evictions

There was forced displacement in many areas, including Darfur, parts of the south, and the area of the Meroe dam. The Khartoum municipal authorities continued to forcibly evict internally displaced people who had settled in the Khartoum area, notwithstanding an agreement reached between the Governor of Khartoum State and a Consultative Committee on Re-Planning Affecting IDPs composed of representatives from the UN, other governments and donors. The Governor had promised a moratorium on all relocations until they were better planned and until the new locations met certain minimum standards.

• On 16 August, without prior warning, bulldozers began to demolish homes in Dar al-Salam, an IDP settlement 43km south of Khartoum housing some 12,000 IDPs. Many had fled droughts and famine in Darfur in the 1980s. Armed police and Special Forces used violence and tear gas against residents, and carried out arrests. Four people died, including a child, and many were injured.

• The building of the Meroe dam on the River Nile will cause the relocation of some 50,000 people. In August, 2,723 households in Amri were given six days to evacuate their homes and reportedly not provided with shelter, food or medical care. Journalists who tried to visit the displaced were briefly detained and sent back to Khartoum.

AI country reports/visits

Reports

• Chad/Sudan: Sowing the seeds of Darfur - ethnic targeting in Chad by Janjawid militias from Sudan (AI Index: AFR 20/006/2006)

• Sudan: Protecting civilians in Darfur - a briefing for effective peacekeeping (AI Index: AFR 54/024/2006)

• Sudan (Darfur): Korma - yet more attacks on civilians (AI Index: AFR 54/026/2006)

• Sudan: Darfur - threats to humanitarian aid (AI Index: AFR 54/031/2006)

• Sudan: Crying out for safety (AI Index: AFR 54/055/2006)

• Sudan/China: Appeal by Amnesty International to the Chinese government on the occasion of the China-Africa Summit for Development and Cooperation (AI Index: AFR 54/072/2006)

• Sudan: Sudan government's solution - Janjawid unleashed in Darfur (AI Index: AFR 54/078/2006)

• Sudan/Chad: 'No-one to help them' - rape extends from Darfur into Eastern Chad (AI Index: AFR 54/087/2006)

Visits

AI delegates visited Khartoum to attend an NGO meeting during the African Union summit in January. AI was allowed no further visas to visit Sudan.

AI delegates visited Chad in May, July and November to carry out research on Sudan and attacks from Sudan into Chad.