Sudan: Director of Darfur torture treatment center in incommunicado detention

Amnesty International today (16 April) expressed concern for the safety of the director of a Darfur torture treatment centre, following his recent arrest by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers. He may be at risk of torture, says Amnesty.

Mohamed Al-Mahjoub, acting Director of Amal Centre for the treatment and rehabilitation of victims of torture in El Fasher, North Darfur, was arrested on 11 April. He was taken into a NISS detention centre in El Fasher. So far he has not been allowed any personal visits nor given access to a lawyer.

Amnesty International fears for his safety and is concerned that Mr Al-Mahjoub is at risk of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

Torture or other forms of ill-treatment of human rights activists by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is often reported in Sudan, in particular when those detained are not given access to the outside world. Amnesty International has documented many such cases.

The organisation is urging its supporters to send urgent appeals to the Sudanese authorities for his immediate and unconditional release.

Amnesty International UK’s Campaigns Director, Tim Hancock said:

“There seems to be no lawful reason for Mr Al-Mahjoub's detention.

“His arrest appears to be part of the ongoing harrassmentharassment that human rights activists have suffered from repeatedly in Sudan.since Since the ICC’s decision to issue an the ICC handed down its arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir, we have witnessed a renewed deterioration in the human rights situation in Sudan.”

“As long as the reasons behind his arrest remain unknown, we consider Mohamed Al Mahjoub to be another prisoner of conscience in Sudan, solely detained for the peaceful exercise of his professional activities. We are calling for the his immediate and unconditional release of Mohamed Al-Mahjoub and for the Sudanese authorities to stop harrassingharassing and unlawfully arresting human rights activists in Sudan.”

The Amal centre’s offices were closed down by the NISS in Nyala, South Darfur and in El Fasher, North Darfur, following the arrest warrant against President Omar Al Bashir. The closure of Amal coincided with that of two other Sudanese Non-Governmental Organisations and the expulsion of 13 international humanitarian organisations that were operating in Sudan.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The NISS have increased their intimidation and persecution of human rights activists over the last year. A wave of detentions following the Justice and Equality Movement’s attack on Khartoum targeted, amongst others, several human rights defenders. The application by the ICC’s prosecutor for an arrest warrant against President Al Bashir has also triggered another wave of detentions and ill-treatment. Since the ICC issued the arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes against President Al Bashir, the human rights situation in Sudan has noticeably deteriorated with the closure of three national humanitarian and human rights organisations, and the expulsion of 13 international aid organisations.

Although Sudan’s Criminal Procedure Code contains safeguards against incommunicado detention, Article 31 of the National Security Forces Act, which governs arrests by the NISS, allows prolonged incommunicado detention without charge or trial. Such incommunicado detention without access to the outside world and without any outside inspection increases the likelihood of torture taking place. Amnesty International has criticised in the past the provisions under the National Security Forces Act.

ENDS
For more info please cal the Amnesty International UK media unit:
Steve Ballinger, 020 7033 1548, steve.ballinger@amnesty.org.uk
Out of office hours: 07721 398 984

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