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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

43rd Session, Ezulwini, Swaziland

SUDAN ORGANISATION AGAINST TORTURE (SOAT)

43rd Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Ezulwini, Swaziland

22 May 2008

Oral Statement Under Agenda Item 7: Prisons and Conditions of Detention


Thank you to the Commission for giving us the floor.

The Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) expresses concern that arbitrary arrest, long-term detention without charge and abuses in custody remain amongst the most serious human rights issues in Sudan today.

Under the National Security Forces Act, Sudanese security agents have powers to arrest and detain individuals for up to nine months without charge. For the first six months, detainees are not even allowed to apply for judicial review of the legality of their detention.

People detained without charge by the security services in Sudan are often denied access to lawyers, medical treatment and family visits, which increases the risk of torture and mistreatment in custody. In recent months this has included beating detainees with fists, feet, sticks, piping and wire. Such abuses are encouraged by the fact that security agents and other state officials are subject to immunity laws which protect them from prosecution.

Groups who are particularly vulnerable to arbitrary arrest in Sudan include human rights defenders, political activists, students and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Over the past months, SOAT has documented a number of cases of Ethiopian refugees detained in Sudan for months without charge, apparently in connection with their past opposition to the Ethiopian regime. At least some who were released after pressure from human rights defenders were then made to report to the authorities on a weekly basis.

SOAT has also documented the arrest and alleged torture of a large number of Darfuris in locations throughout Sudan, apparently in connection with their suspected affiliation with Darfuri rebel groups.

SOAT calls upon the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to call upon the Government of Sudan:

- To reform the National Security Forces Act to bring it into line with international human rights standards and Sudan’s own Interim National Constitution
- To establish an effective judicial oversight mechanism
- And to undertake all steps necessary in order to end the impunity of state officials responsible for torture and ill-treatment in custody, including dismantling the current system of immunities

Thank you Madam Chair.

For more information please contact:

Sudan Organisation Against Torture
Argo House
Kilburn Park Road
London
NW6 5LF
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7625 8055
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7372 2656
Email: info@soatsudan.org
Website: www.soatsudan.org

 

 

 

 

 

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