A total of 700 children have been screened and registered for release in phases.
JUBA, South Sudan, February 7, 2018 – More than 300 child soldiers have today been officially released by armed groups in Yambio to begin reintegrating into their communities and learning new skills to support themselves, according to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Children should not be carrying guns and killing each other. They should be playing, learning, having fun with friends, protected and cherished by the adults around them,” said the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.
A total of 700 children have been screened and registered for release in phases – 563 from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) and 137 associated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In-Opposition (SPLA-IO). The first phase of the release project involving 311 young people was today marked at a ceremony in Yambio.
Eighty seven of the children released today are girls with the final total involved in the Yambio project expected to reach 220.
“This is the first time so many young women have been involved in a release like this in South Sudan,” said David Shearer. “They will have endured suffering, including sexual abuse. It is vital that they receive the support they need to rejoin their communities and that they are welcomed home by family and friends without any sense of stigma.”
UNMISS has been leading the project to release the children for more than six months, including providing peacekeeping troops to escort religious leaders into remote bush areas to make contact and negotiate with the armed groups. It has also worked closely with other key partners such as UNICEF, state and local authorities as well as community groups.
“Without the combined effort of all of these partners, today’s release would not have been possible,” said David Shearer. “I would like to pay particular credit to religious leaders who travelled into conflict zones and risked their own lives to bring these children to safety.”
David Shearer said the challenge ahead is to ensure the young people have the financial, practical, and emotional support they need to undertake training, find jobs, and access the opportunities they deserve to reach their full potential.
To assist in this process, UNMISS engineers have rehabilitated the road between Yambio and a nearby vocational training center so the young people can travel safely for training. UNMISS is also progressing other projects to release child soldiers over the coming months in Morobo, Bentiu, and in Pibor where 315 have been verified and registered so far.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 31, 2018 – Local Statement by European Union Resident Member States in Sudan:
“The Ambassadors of the resident EU Embassies in Sudan are very concerned by the prolonged detention without charge or trial of a large number of political leaders, human rights activists and other citizens, and by the repeated seizures of national newspapers.
We call on the Sudanese Government to release all these detainees as soon as possible, to ensure they are not mistreated and to respect the right of Sudanese people to peaceful freedom of expression and association, including freedom of the media. We condemn the violence used against peaceful protest, and continue to encourage those exercising their fundamental rights to do so peacefully.
The European Union and its member states remain committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for Sudan, for the benefit of its people.”
Mr. Ahmed’s family rejected the findings of the report and insisted that he died as a result of torture suffered whilst in NISS custody.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 17, 2018 – Sudanese authorities should urgently investigate the torture and custodial death of a Pharmacist and alleged ill-treatment and torture of five others accused of misusing emergency drugs at Giraida hospital and selling them to private pharmacies.
On 10 January 2018 at 9 AM, six medical professionals attached to Giraida hospital were arrested by NISS of Giraida, South Darfur and detained without charge for their alleged involvement in the illegal sale of emergency drugs from Giraida hospital, a government hospital, to private pharmacies. Five of the six detainees were released the following day, 11 January. Available information suggests that the detainees were beaten and verbally assaulted by the NISS on their first day in custody.
The individuals who were released include:
Following their release, the five personnel were ordered to report to the NISS office every day.
Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, a pharmacist at Giraida hospital was held longer in custody and died on 12 January, after spending two days in custody. According to information received, Mr. Ahmed was detained longer on account of his presumed affiliation with the Sudanese Congress Party. Mr. Ahmed is thought to have been severely tortured whilst in custody as his body showed signs of torture, including wounds sustained from a solid object.
On 12 January at 7 PM, the NISS took his body to Giraida Hospital. The Director of Graida hospital contacted Mr. Ahmed’s family to come and receive his body. The family refused to receive the body unless an autopsy was carried out by the hospital. The family reported that they were denied access to criminal form 8, a medical evidence form used in criminal proceedings related to death or grievous hurt.
On 13 January 2018 at 4 AM, the NISS transferred the body of the deceased to Nyala hospital, the main hospital in South Darfur state, under orders from the Commissioner of Giraida municipality. At Nyala hospital a medical report was issued and the findings indicated that Mr. Ahmed died of natural causes. However Mr. Ahmed’s family rejected the findings of the report and insisted that he died as a result of torture suffered whilst in NISS custody.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the Government of Sudan to immediately investigate the grave allegations and hold those responsible to account. The reported allegations of torture and the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Ahmed should be the subject of an immediate, thorough, impartial, public and transparent investigation by the Sudanese authorities
The authorities should also guarantee the safety of Adam Jar Elnabi, Salam Ahmed Adam, Mubarek Hassan Osman, Nor Aldeen Adam Hassan and Mohamed Yagoub Adam and cease the harassment of the medical personnel. An investigation should be conducted into the allegations of torture or ill-treatment they faced whilst in custody.
ACJPS reiterates its call for law reform and calls on the Government of Sudan to adopt legislation that defines and criminalises torture in line with international standards including the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), provide effective access to justice and adequate reparation to victims of torture, and ensure that confessions obtained under torture are not used or accepted by courts under any circumstances. The Government should expressly denounce the use of torture by security agents to intimidate or extract confessions from persons in their custody.
Sudanese authorities have been consistently implicated in the use of torture as a means of intimidation and to extract confessions. Despite the prohibition of torture in Sudan’s 2005 Interim National Constitution, other legislation, such as the 2010 National Security Act and 1994 Evidence Act, creates conditions rendering detainees extremely vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment. The 2007 Armed Forces Act, 2008 Police Act, and 2010 National Security Act each grant immunities to state actors.
The government of Sudan has repeatedly failed to ensure prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of torture, ill-treatment and has failed to ensure effective remedies or provide reparation to the victims. Even in cases where the immunities mentioned above have been lifted, victims of torture have faced various barriers that make it extremely hard to report cases of torture. ACJPS is not aware of a single case where an alleged perpetrator of torture has been held to account. The ACHPR found in case 379/09 against Sudan that remedies are not available to people tortured by the NISS because the power to lift immunities is at the discretion of the director of the NISS and is not subject to judicial oversight.
The ICRC will also for the first time carry out new assistance activities in South Kordofan.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 11, 2018 – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will increase its field assistance activities in Sudan’s Darfur region in 2018, returning to an area where years of conflict have adversely affected the health and welfare of residents.
The ICRC will also for the first time carry out new assistance activities in South Kordofan. Recent visits to South Kordofan and Central Darfur by the ICRC found people in need of food, safe drinking water and access to health care.
“Families living in Sudan’s conflict-affected areas have been suffering much too long from the effects of prolonged violence,” ICRC President Peter Maurer said during a three-day visit to Sudan that concluded Thursday. “It’s notable that the Government of Sudan recognizes these needs and is allowing the ICRC to carry out a broader range of activities in these critical areas.”
The ICRC assistance activities will gradually increase in partnership with the Sudanese Red Crescent Society and relevant authorities. The ICRC hopes in the future to cross lines of control and directly assist all civilians suffering from conflict and violence, including in armed opposition held areas.
“We want to address short-term needs but we know we must also help strengthen the resilience of the people in the long-term,” Mr. Maurer said. “The ICRC has a long history of working in Sudan, but no history of working in South Kordofan state. We look forward to being able to assist those in need there.”
In South Kordofan, Mr. Maurer witnessed the opening of an ICRC-repaired water point where smiling children scooped up handfuls of clean drinking water from shiny taps. The ICRC plans to open a new office in Kadugli, a development welcomed by local authorities.
ICRC assistance in Sudan planned for 2018 includes the distribution of seeds, tools and pesticides to help internally displaced communities and host communities to grow their own food, aid that will help 108,000 people. Food or cash will be distributed to help those families until the harvest. ICRC teams will also repair water pumps and vaccinate livestock.
The ICRC resumed its field assistance work after suspending field operations in Darfur in 2015 because of limited access. The ICRC has continued to support orthopedic patients at the National Authority for Prosthetics and Orthotics, to reconnect families separated by conflict, and to act as a neutral intermediary during prisoner releases.
Mahmoud Hussain was severely beaten by the members of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) during his arrest.
KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 8, 2018 – The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is seriously concerned for the safety of a Darfurian student who has been detained incommunicado and without charge for two weeks by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Khartoum. No reasons were given for his arrest in December and he has been denied access to his family and/ or lawyer. The authorities must immediately take measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the Darfurian student and order his immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international standards.
On 24 December 2017 at 1 pm, Mr. Mahmoud Hussain Omer, a law student at the Al-Nilien University in Khartoum from Kabkabia, North Darfur state, was arrested by members of NISS at the gate of the University. Mahmoud Hussain was severely beaten by the members of NISS during his arrest.
ACJPS is deeply concerned for the safety of Mahmoud Hussain who has now been detained incommunicado without charge and without access to his family or lawyer for two weeks and whose whereabouts remain unknown.
The lack of access to lawyers and family members of the detainees, together with the well-documented use by the NISS of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, particularly whilst held in unknown locations, gives rise to serious concerns for their safety. Incommunicado detention significantly enhances vulnerability to being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
In another incident, ACJPS was informed that on 22 August 2017, members of NISS arrested Mr. Nasreldin Mukhtar Mohamed, the former chairperson of the Darfur Students Association of the Holy Koran University in Omdurman. He was arrested at the gate of the university and then taken to the security detention centre in Khartoum North where he was held incommunicado for about a month. The authorities have only allowed two visits from his family since his arrest on 22 August 2017. The first visit was in October 2017.
During the last family visit on Friday 8 December 2017, his family noticed that Nasreldin Mukhtar had lost sight in his left eye and sustained severe injuries on his legs as a result of beatings by members of NISS.
Neither Mahmoud Hussain nor Nasreldin Mukhtar has been charged with a crime.
The National Security Act of 2010 (NSA 2010) grants the NISS wide powers of arrest and allows detention for up to four and a half months without judicial review, well in excess of international standards. The NSA 2010 also permits incommunicado detention without prompt and unequivocal access to a lawyer of one’s choice or the right to medical care. Sudan’s laws fail to provide adequate safeguards, permit arbitrary detention, and create an enabling environment for the perpetration of torture.
The authorities must guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees and order their immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards or, if such charges exist, to bring them before an impartial, independent, and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times. The authorities must also guarantee both detainees access to medical assistance required to ensure their physical and psychological well-being.
Although the formal charges are not known, the detentions are thought to have been made in connection with their involvement in the Darfur Students Association. Over the years, Darfuri students in universities across Sudan have encountered hostility from the Sudanese authorities. ACJPS has documented several cases of excessive use of force by security forces, arbitrary arrests and detention as well as torture and ill-treatment. The Government of Sudan has traditionally been hostile to Darfuri student associations organising at universities. They have been prevented, on occasion violently, for speaking out about issues related to fee waivers, expulsion of fellow students, among others.
On 18 May 2017, the NISS and a pro-government student militia raided a public forum at Wad Nobawe hostel which was organised to discuss the expulsion of seven Darfuri students from Al Azahri University after they participated in demonstrations on 15 May 2017 calling for the administration to adhere to the fee exemption provided for under the 2006 Doha Peace Agreement. The forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd and the students were beaten with sticks. At least ten students sustained injuries and were transferred to the hospital for treatment. Seven students were arrested and are detained incommunicado in an unknown location.
This incident occurred only four days after ACJPS document a similar incident in which twenty students were arrested after the NISS and pro-government student militia forcibly dispersed a public forum held on the campus on 15 May 2017.
Sarun Pradhan and Ramesh Karki, both nationals of Nepal, and Musa Omer Musa Mohamed, a citizen of Sudan, are unharmed and are undergoing medical checks.
EL FASHER, Sudan, December 20, 2016 – Three staff members of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who were abducted in El Geneina, West Darfur, on 27 November 2016, were freed on 19 December.
Sarun Pradhan and Ramesh Karki, both nationals of Nepal, and Musa Omer Musa Mohamed, a citizen of Sudan, are unharmed and are undergoing medical checks.
The UN Designated Official for Security and the African Union – United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Martin Uhomoibhi, expressed the Mission’s gratitude to the Government of Sudan, and specifically to the Wali of West Darfur and the National Intelligence and Security Services for their excellent work which led to the safe release of the humanitarian workers.
He commended the UN security personnel who led the effort from the UN side to achieve this successful outcome.
“The role of the humanitarian actors in Darfur is crucial to ensure that those in need receive essential assistance; it is in everyone’s interest to guarantee that they can continue to carry out their duties safely,” the JSR stated.