Sudan is a tribal nation that has been independent of British colonialism since 1955 and has since then fallen under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood after a military coup. This fundamentalist regime allows torture in Sudan’s prisons and “ghost houses.” Arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions are commonplace despite the recommendations to end these practices by Amnesty International that Sudan accepted. Sudan has signed the 1986 UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Although Sudan has not ratified CAT, it is bound by the agreements and must act in a way to further the goals of the Convention. Sudan has signed and ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The National Intelligence and Security Services, National Police Service, and the Sudan Armed Forces have tortured protesters, human rights activists, and countless others who politically dissent from the government.
There are numerous cases in Sudan of human rights activists being arbitrarily detained and tortured by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Victims are often kidnapped and taken to “ghost houses,” vacant properties in a discreet location, where government officers torture their victims for months at a time to intimidate detainees or to extract confessions. Moreover, certain tribes or ethnicities from regions like Darfur, South Kordofon, and Blue Nile receive even harsher treatment due to racial discrimination. A civil war has been ongoing for thirty years in Sudan, where a majority of the people are poverty stricken, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for the President. In this political climate, political dissenters are quickly silenced.
In 2017, Human Rights Watch voiced its concern about arbitrary detention of activists within Sudan. These arrests continue despite recommendations and the government’s apparent commitment to release detainees before the U.S. lifts its sanctions. In December 2017, Human Rights Watch specifically voiced concerns regarding Rudwan Dawod. Mr. Dawod is a Sudanese-American citizen who along with other activists participated in a protest in a suburb of Khartoum. They were subsequently arrested and transported to an undisclosed location without access to a lawyer, family contact, or medical care. Senior Africa Researcher at Human Rights Watch, Jehanne Henry, describes how Sudan detains human rights activists long-term, “holds them incommunicado, and subjects them to abuse, including torture.” This type of torture and detention “are still routine practice in Sudan, used as a means to stifle dissent and dialogue.”
In May 2016, the Sudanese government accepted recommendations—given by Amnesty International at the Universal Periodic Review of Sudan—to improve efforts to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. However, Sudan has previously accepted similar recommendations before in the UN Human Rights Council’s 2011 review of Sudan.
By signing the CAT, Sudan has made a legal commitment to refrain from acts that “defeat the objects and purpose of [the] treaty.” Sudan is additionally bound by Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 7 of the ICCPR, both of which prohibit torture and other ill-treatment. Article 10 of the ICCPR recognizes the right of all persons deprived of their liberty to humane treatment. Both Article 5 of the African Charter and Article 10 of the ICCPR provide for respect for the inherent dignity of human beings. Sudan continuously violates these protected rights by kidnapping and torturing those who dare to speak out against the government.
Citizens of Sudan are terrorized by the police forces and the Sudanese government does little to shield its citizens from brutality and torture. The UN Human Rights Council has given recommendations to ratify the CAT. These recommendations were reached by independent experts after independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. These recommendations are an answer to the violations that are continuously committed by the government of Sudan. The UN Human Rights Council’s recommendations regarding technical cooperation and compliance with CAT should be implemented in a timely and effective manner. However, after repeated reviews, Sudan has yet to implement any meaningful changes. Instead Sudan has blatantly disregarded these recommendations and compliance measures since signing CAT. Disturbing reports of citizens from every part of Sudan being arbitrarily detained and tortured continuously come to light. In all parts of Sudan, all sorts of people ranging from student protesters to political activists have been tortured and killed by police officials.
Individuals in Sudan are arrested and tortured by police on a regular basis. ICC must ensure the arrest and prosecution of President Omar al-Bashir for his crimes against humanity. Lastly, Sudan must begin abiding by international human rights laws and treaties.