Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

Sudan: Government critics brutally suppressed by security service

Torture, unlawful killings and sexual assault regularly committed by Security Service agents – new Amnesty report

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is carrying out a brutal campaign of arbitrary detentions, torture, and mental and physical intimidation against government opponents and critics, according to a new Amnesty International report published today (19 July).

Amnesty’s report, Agents of Fear (pdf), documents abuses which have been perpetrated for years by Sudan’s NISS, such as arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, ill-treatment, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances.

Amnesty International’s Africa programme director, Erwin van der Borght said:

“The NISS rules Sudan by fear. The extensive, multi-pronged assault on the Sudanese people by the security services has left critics of the government in constant fear of arrest, harassment or worse.

“Sudanese authorities are brutally silencing political opposition and human rights defenders in Sudan through violence and intimidation. NISS agents benefit from total impunity for the human rights violations they continue to commit.”

A variety of torture methods are used by Sudan’s Security Service, including beating detainees who are being held upside down against a wall, whipping, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, kicking and stamping on detainees and beating them with water pipes.

Ahmed Ali Mohamed Osman, a doctor also known as Ahmed Sardop, was arrested by the NISS on 20 March 2009 in Khartoum after he wrote a web article critical of the government’s decision to expel humanitarian organisations from Sudan and rapes in the Darfur region. Ahmed Sardop told Amnesty:

“They leaned me over a chair and held me by my arms and feet while others hit me on the back, legs and arms with something similar to an electrical cable. They kicked me in the testicles repeatedly while they talked about the report on rape in Darfur.”

Mr Sardop filed a complaint with the police and was examined by a doctor who confirmed his allegations of torture.  A few days later, he started receiving telephone death threats: “We will soon find you and we will kill you.” He now lives in exile.

Under Sudan’s 2010 National Security Act, Sudan’s Security Service agents continue to benefit from extensive powers of arrest and detention and have immunity for all the violations they commit.

Amnesty’s Erwin van der Borght continued:

“The National Security Act must be reformed so that agents are no longer provided with extensive powers of arrest and detention. All immunities should be removed. Allegations of human rights violations must be promptly and effectively investigated and those responsible prosecuted for the crimes they commit. Victims must be given reparations.”

Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have also been harassed and intimidated by law enforcement agents and the NISS, and sexually assaulted while in their custody.

Since the presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2010, the NISS has renewed its clampdown on freedom of expression.  Opposition newspapers have been closed, forced to stop printing, or have stopped printing themselves in protest against censorship. Some journalists have been arbitrarily arrested and detained.

Abuzar Al Amin, the editor-in-chief of Rai Al Shaab, a newspaper affiliated to the Popular Congress Party, was arrested at his home on 15 May 2010. He was taken into NISS detention where he was interrogated about his writings and journalistic work, and tortured. He was beaten and kicked, and electric shocks were administered to his body.

Download em>Agents of Fear (pdf)

View latest press releases