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Prominent human rights defender still detained
On February 14, 39 human rights NGOs and individual activists issued a statement protesting the detention of prominent Sudanese human rights defender Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam. Mudawi, who is the Chairman of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) and a lecturer in engineering at the University of Khartoum, was arrested in December last year. He has been honoured by human rights organizations such as Human Rights First and Frontline Defenders.
More than 70 days on, Mudawi is still in detention, despite the fact that he has not been charged with any crime. A number of pro-government media sources have floated allegations that Mudawi contributed to last year’s Amnesty International report alleging Sudanese government involvement in chemical weapon attacks in Darfur. Others accuse Mudawi of “collaborating with foreign entities” and fabricating reports of rape.
Mudawi’s lawyer, Nabil Adeeb, has accused the government of attempting to tarnish Mudawi’s image. He pointed out that publication of information about an ongoing investigation violates the press and publications act. Others claim that the delay in bringing formal charges is an indication that the government does not have evidence to back up these allegations.
From February 2 -14, 2017, Mudawi went on a hunger strike, putting his already fragile health in danger to protest his illegal detention. His family reported that he has been in ill health. Mudawi stopped his hunger strike after confirmation that he would be transferred to the Office of the Public Prosecutor. He was allowed to speak to his lawyer for the first time on February 22, only after more than two and a half months in custody.
Former detainees have reported that Mudawi has been tortured in prison. Even more disturbing, the government is reportedly considering bringing charges
What it means…
This is not the first time that Mudawi has been targeted. Authorities have detained Mudawi in 2010 and 2003, the latter in connection with his Darfur advocacy work. Following the issuance of the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, the government shut down his organization along with two others.
Dr. Mudawi is not the only victim of prolonged detention without charge. Two others appear to have been detained primarily, if not exclusively, as a result of their connection with the renowned human rights activist. Authorities detained Mudawi’s long time driver, Adam El Sheikh Mukhtar, along with him. Since December 12, authorities also detained an accountant at Mudawi’s engineering company, Lambda Engineering.
Other activists have been targeted. To cite just a few examples, authorities arrested human rights activist Tasneem Ahmed Taha in December from her law offices in El Fashir, Darfur, and remains detained in Khartoum. Security also arrested activist Al Shazali Mohamed, a member of the Teachers Strike Committee, in November but denied holding him nearly two months. In addition, authorities detained Hafiz Idriss, an advocate for the rights of displaced in Darfur, in November after having travelled to Khartoum for medical treatment. On December 30, Mr. Idriss was taken to the hospital for injuries that appeared to be a result of torture while in custody.
Alongside these high-profile individuals, on December 5, Radio Dabanga reported that at least 24 opposition politicians had been detained incommunicado. On December 15, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) documented the detention of at least 42 opposition leaders, activists and individuals in response to a civil disobedience campaign. Of these, ACJPS reports that five remain in detention.
This aggressive campaign of arrests and detention is facilitated by the 2010 Sudanese National Security Act, which allows individuals to be detained for up to four and a half months without charge –in direct violation of international law.
In May 2016, National security arrested several employees of TRACKs, a centre in Khartoum that offers trainings on a variety of issues including human rights. Authorities released all but two members, Director Khalifa Al-Afif Mukhtar and Trainer Midhat Hamdan remain in Huda Prison, Omdurman. The two face a series of trumped up charges including receiving foreign funds without permission and dissemination of false information.
The U.N. Independent Expert Aristide Nononsi raised the case of Mudawi during his official visit last week and called for his release.
The case of Mudawi and others highlight the problematic position of the US government that has suspended sanctions on the basis of “progress” on humanitarian access and cessation of hostilities. Not only is the crackdown itself a serious cause for concern, it makes monitoring of the human rights situation generally more difficult.