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Sudan

Country Profile

Following a civil disobedience campaign in 2016 protesting subsidy cuts to fuel and electricity alongside an increase of 20% of government workers’ salaries, civil society has been confronted with a further shrinking of Sudan’s already extremely limited civic space. HRDs have been harassed, arbitrarily arrested and detained, and exposed to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of security services.

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Freedom of Association

The Government of Sudan led a crackdown on freedom of association by targeting human rights organisations and banning them. On 5 March 2017, after 24 sessions, Judge Osama Ahmed Abdullah of the Khartoum Central Criminal Court convicted TRACKs Director Khalafalla Al-Afif Mukhtar and TRACKs trainer Midhat A. Hamdan of dissemination of false information (Article 66 of the Criminal Code) and possession of immoral material (Article 14 of the Sudan Information Crimes Law of 2007) and Director of Zarqa Organisation for Rural Development (ZORD) Mustafa Adam of espionage (Article 53 of the Criminal Code). All three were sentenced to one year of imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 SDG (approx. 8,028 USD) each. Detained since May 2016, the three men were released the following day from Al-Huda prison in Omdurman after their fines were fully paid.[1]

Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Since 31 October 2016, Sudan’s government has led a crackdown against protests organised by the Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee (SDCC). On 6 October 2016, the SDCC called a strike in response to concerns over the physical safety of doctors working in hospitals, in addition to grievances concerning pay, working conditions and inadequate funding for medical equipment. Physical attacks on doctors working in hospitals have increasingly been reported to monitoring groups by medical professionals.

On 1 November, the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) detained 14 doctors –  12 were held in Khartoum, and two in other locations.[2]

Freedom of Expression

On 15 December 2016, the Government of Sudan led a crackdown on freedom of expression through seizures of newspapers and detaining more than 42 opposition leaders and activists. The arrests and seizures of newspapers came during a renewed civil disobedience campaign protesting austerity measures instituted in early November 2016. The civil disobedience was called for by the activists and supported by the opposition parties.[3]

On 7 December 2016, the NISS arrested founder and former director of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam and his driver at the University of Khartoum. He was held for months in Khartoum’s Kober Prison without charge or access to legal representation. Released detainees also reported to Hurriyat and Radio Dabanga that they saw Dr. Mudawi being beaten by NISS officers following the declaration of his first hunger strike.[4] Despite a decision by the Attorney General of Sudan on 26 March 2017 promising his release on bail, this has yet to take place.[5]

As of 16 January 2017, there were more than 17 opposition members and HRDs being held incommunicado by the NISS, including Al Shazali Mohamed Abdalla, arrested on 26 November 2016, and Tasneem Ahmed Taha Alzaki, arrested 26 December 2016.[6]

Since November 2016, the government led a crackdown on newspapers through the confiscation of printed issues. The main purpose was to seize newspapers publishing news regarding civil disobedience as well as ruling party policies. The aim is to inflict huge financial loss on newspapers that cross the “red line”..

On 27 November a private television station, Omdurman TV, was forced to close following a decision by the Sudanese Radio and Television Broadcasting Company to cancel the station’s license.

On 6 November 2016 the NISS prevented three daily newspapers in Khartoum from distributing printed copies: Al Ayaam and Al Gareeda, independent newspapers, and Altyaar, a traditionally pro-government newspaper. No reason was given.

On 28 November 2016 the NISS again prevented Al Ayaam and Al Gareeda from distributing printed copies without official reason. The following day, NISS prevented four daily newspapers in Khartoum from distributing printed copies: Al Ayaam, Al Gareeda, Altyaar, and Alyoum Altali. No reason was given. On 30 November 2016, NISS prevented five daily newspapers in Khartoum from distributing printed copies: Al Ayaam, Al Gareeda, Altyaar,Alyoum Altali, and Alwatan. Once again, no official motive was given. This trend continued throughout December and was extensively documented by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).


[1] African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, “SUDAN: TRACKs-affiliated rights defenders sentenced, fined and finally released after ten months of arbitrary detention”, 8 March 2017, http://www.acjps.org/sudan-tracks-affiliated-rights-defenders-sentenced-fined-and-finally-released-after-ten-months-of-arbitrary-detentio/, Accessed 4 May 2017.

[2] African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, “Urgent safety concern for 14 doctors held incommunicado and at risk of torture following strike”, 10 November 2016, http://www.acjps.org/4079/, Accessed 4 May 2017.

[3] African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, “Urgent concern for detainees held incommunicado amidst Sudan’s growing civil disobedience campaign”, 15 December 2016, http://www.acjps.org/4122/, Accessed 4 May 2017.

[4] African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, “Sudan: Urgent Concern for Rights Defender on Hunger Strike Over Unlawful Detention”, 14 February 2017, http://www.acjps.org/sudan-urgent-concern-for-rights-defender-on-hunger-strike-over-unlawful-detention/, Accessed 4 May 2017.

[5] Front Line Defenders, “Release of human rights defenders delayed despite Attorney General decision,” 30 March 2017, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/mudawi-ibrahim-adam-detained, Accessed May 4 2017.

[6] African Centre for Peace and Justice Studies, “UPDATE: Female human rights defender joins individuals detained incommunicado following Sudan’s civil disobedience campaign; whereabouts of detainee still unknown”, 16 January 2017, http://www.acjps.org/update-female-human-rights-defender-joins-individuals-detained-incommunicado-following-sudans-civil-disobedience-campaign-whereabouts-of-detainee-still-unknown/, Accessed 4 May 2017.

Latest News

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Publications

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger! Journalists as Human Rights Defenders in the East and Horn of Africa

DefendDefenders examines the challenges journalists face, and provides an overview of the various strategies they have used to circumvent and continue their work amid these restrictions

2 November 2017
10 Year Anniversary Publication

On 27th October 2015, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) celebrated ten years of defending human right activists throughout the East and Horn of Africa. To mark this occasion, EHAHRDP has produced an anniversary publication.    

27 October 2015
Caught up in Bitter Contests: report on human rights defenders working in the context of elections

The report details the tactics used by the Sudanese, Ethiopian, Burundian and Ugandan governments to limit the operating environment for civil society in advance of elections.

30 September 2015