Sudan: Hundreds unaccounted for and 109 to face sham trials following 10 May attacks

38 people sentenced to death for 10 May Khartoum attacks

Hundreds of people – including Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and a nine-month old boy – have been detained by the Sudanese Government without charge or access to lawyers said Amnesty International today (18 Aug).

The organisation also accused the Sudanese government of preparing to try another 109 people in sham courts for the attacks that took place on 10 May on the outskirts of Khartoum, by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

This comes after the government sentenced eight members of the JEM to death yesterday (Sunday 17 Aug).

The fate and whereabouts of most of those still held in Khartoum over the 10 May attacks remain unknown. Many are still unaccounted for and Amnesty International has received reports of torture and ill-treatment from people who were released. The organisation also fears those still detained are at high risk of torture or that they have been disappeared.

Amnesty International’s charge comes after eight alleged JEM members were sentenced to death by Sudan’s Anti-Terrorism Special Courts yesterday in trials that failed to meet international standards of fairness. The verdict takes the number of individuals sentenced to death in relation to the 10 May attack to 38.

Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director, Tawanda Hondora said:

“Sudan’s Anti-Terrorism Special Courts are nothing but a travesty of justice.

“Some of the people sentenced yesterday only met their lawyers for the first time during the trial, while several said they suffered torture when they were held incommunicado and that they were forced to confess to crimes.

“Those trials were clearly unfair and now Sudan is preparing to try yet more people with this system. How is that justice?”

One of the lawyers of those convicted on 17 August told Amnesty International that his request for an investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment by his client was rejected by the court. This included an appeal for a medical examination, denied despite the fact that “marks of ill-treatment were still clearly visible on their bodies” when the accused were facing the judge.

The defence lawyers have appealed all the verdicts within the limited period allowed by the Special Courts. The final decision – expected within the next few weeks – has to be taken by a Special Court of Appeal. Thereafter, the President will have to sign the decision for the executions to be carried out.

Tawanda Hondora said:

“The Sudanese government has to investigate crimes and bring perpetrators to justice but this must happen in accordance with international law and their own constitution, which guarantees fair trials.

“We urge the Sudanese authorities not to execute these men and to review their cases immediately, according to Sudan’s laws.”

Amnesty International also urged the authorities to reveal the whereabouts of all individuals held in the context of the 10 May investigation. It also urged for those detained to be promptly charged or immediately released, and for them to be given regular access to lawyers and family and to be provided with the appropriate medical attention.

Background Information

On 10 May 2008, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) launched an attack in the outskirts of Khartoum. Allegedly more than 200 people were killed during those attacks

In the weeks following the attack hundreds of individuals were arrested by Sudanese police and security forces. Amnesty International received reports that extra-judicial executions occurred during the waves of arrests.

Anti-Terrorism Special Courts were established on 29 May to try individuals accused of participating in the attack in Khartoum. The 17 August verdict is the fourth issued by the Special Courts.

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