Friday, January 6, 2012

Free M. Hassan Alim Al Bushi





African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS)
Special Rapporteur on Torture
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
E-mail: 
urgent-action@ohchr.org

31 December 2011

POLITICAL ACTIVIST HELD IN INCOMMUNICADO DETENTION IN SUDAN AFTER OUTSPOKEN COMMENTS AT UNIVERSITY TALK: FEAR FOR HIS SAFETY
ent torture
The victim recently graduated from the University of Alnelain, Faculty of Engineering. He is well known to the authorities for his political activities as a member of the Baath party and his participation in public demonstrations, which had already resulted in his arrest and detention by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in January 2011. In the first week of December 2011, the victim participated in an open student talk held at the University of Khartoum. Nafi Ali Nafi, Vice President of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) for Political Affairs and advisor to Sudan’s president, was a speaker at the event, which had been organized by an Islamic Student Group. The victim criticised the NCP’s policy and claimed that the government to which Nafi Ali Nafi belongs is responsible for the deterioration of Sudan’s education system. He also stated that the ruling party is responsible for many human rights violations and the suffering of the Sudanese people.
The victim’s intervention was videotaped and posted on the YouTube website. The video was widely circulated and as a result he was interviewed by Altyar Sudanese Arabic newspaper; the interview has been reposted on Sudanese online fora.
On 26 December 2011 at around 1.30pm, the victim was arrested by seven men dressed in plain-clothes from his house in Khartoum Bahri, Alhaj Yousef, Almaigoma - Almozdalefa Wad Rafeea Block 1 West, Near SudaTel.
B. Identity of force(s) carrying out the initial detention and/or torture (police, intelligence services, armed forces, paramilitary, prison officials, other)
It is believed that the men who arrested and tortured the victim were officers belonging to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) dressed in plain-clothes. When he was being bundled into the car, the victim shouted to the persons who had gathered outside his house that those arresting him were “security men”. The modus operandi of the victim’s arrest and abduction is typical of NISS operations as reported by UN human rights officers and others:
According to the information received by United Nations human rights officers, NISS agents – who operate in plain clothes and often use cars not marked as belonging to the security forces - often carry out arrests without identifying themselves, or informing the target person about the reason for the arrest… NISS detainees may be held for periods ranging from a few hours to several months. Information collected by United Nations human rights officers on the context of NISS arrests and the questioning that takes place in detention indicates that detainees are often arrested and held in an apparent effort to intimidate, punish or temporarily silence them, or to extract information. They are typically held without charge by the NISS until such time as they are either released or transferred to remand custody under the authority of police. In some cases, detainees are allegedly forced to make ‘confessions’ in NISS detention which may subsequently be used against them in criminal trials.
C. Were any person, such as a lawyer, relatives or friends, permitted to see the victim during detention? If so, how long after the arrest?
The victim was arrested by the NISS at approximately 1.30 pm on 26 December 2011 and has since been detained. His mother went to the information desk at the security office located in Khartoum 2 on 29 December 2011 to inquire about his whereabouts. The security personnel present said that they remembered her coming earlier in 2011 when her son was detained, and asked her why she has not stopped him from engaging in political activities. They told her that they didn’t have any knowledge of his recent arrest and detention, and asked her to provide details, saying that they would revert to her in fifteen days. To date, the victim has not been allowed to see or to communicate with any lawyer, relative, friend or anyone else.
The National Security Act 2010 does not provide an unequivocal right to access a lawyer or to communicate with a family member or a friend, contrary to Sudan’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which form an integral part of Sudan’s Bill of Rights by virtue of article 27(3) of the Interim National Constitution (INC). Observers have repeatedly raised concerns over the broad powers and immunity granted to the NISS in Sudan’s national security legislation, which fosters a climate of impunity. In practice, there have been numerous reports about incommunicado detention as well as torture and ill-treatment by the NISS.
D. Describe the methods of torture used
The victim was beaten by NISS officers in front of his mother, using a water hose which they left in his house. After searching the house, the NISS officers forced him to get into their car and took him to an unknown place where it is believed he remains at the time of writing this appeal (31st December 2011). The victim has been arrested by NISS twice before. He was arrested for six days from 24-29 September 2005 and recently for 45 days from 29 January to 13 March 2011. On that occasion, his mother observed beating marks on his back following his return, which suggests that he was subjected to torture because of his political activities as speaker of the Baath party student’s unit and his participation in demonstrations during January 2011. His torture and detention was part of a wider crackdown on protest in Sudan. According to UN reports, more than hundred persons were arrested following the January rallies, “many of [whom] reported having been mistreated while in NISS custody”.
E. What injuries were sustained as a result of the torture?
Information not available as the victim is inaccessible.
F. What was believed to be the purpose of the torture?
The victim is a member of the Baath Party, a non-violent party opposed to the NCP government, and has participated in anti-governmental rallies, including those that took place in January 2011 following which he was arrested. His outspoken criticism directed at Ali Nafi during the open talk at Khartoum University in December 2011 triggered his latest arrest. The purpose of any torture the victim is likely to suffer is believed to be punishment, intimidation and, possibly, coercion to extract information about political activities (see in this regard the quote from the UN report on NISS patterns of arrest and detention reprinted above, note 2).

III REMEDIAL ACTION
Were any domestic remedies pursued by the victim or his/her family or representatives (complaints with the forces responsible, the judiciary, political organs, etc.)? If so, what was the result?
The family of the victim is not able to obtain access to the victim; he is still being held at an unknown location. An inquiry by his mother about his whereabouts has not resulted in any known follow-up by the authorities (see above at p.2).
There are no effective complaints procedures against NISS officers. They enjoy wide powers of arrest and, in case of allegations of torture, legal action can only be taken if the immunity granted to NISS officers were to be lifted. The decision to lift the immunity falls within the discretion of the NISS director and is not subject to effective judicial review. In practice, NISS enjoy virtual impunity. In addition, journalists who have called for a full investigation into allegations that NISS officers had raped a student following the January 2011 demonstrations have themselves been prosecuted, which demonstrates the risk of raising and/or pursuing complaints.

Have the authorities taken any action after the incident?
Not known.
IV. Sudan’s obligations and responsibility under international law
Arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention is absolutely prohibited under international human rights law as it creates an environment conducive to torture. Sudan has a duty under international law to refrain from torture and to investigate credible allegations of torture, as a corresponding obligation to the victim’s right to a remedy. States are required to undertake an effective investigation capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible. This includes providing adequate protection to the victim and witnesses. It also entails lifting the immunity of any officials suspected of having committed such crimes.
The arrest and incommunicado detention of Mohamed Hassan Alim is part of a broader problem of a legal and institutional system that fails to adequately protect those within Sudan’s jurisdiction from torture, other forms of ill-treatment and related violations, and to provide adequate remedies in case of breach. The resulting impunity perpetuates a climate that facilitates violations, particularly against person who exercise their freedom of expression and assembly to articulate political protest or concerns about the denial of rights and justice.

IV. INFORMATION CONCERNING THE AUTHOR OF THE PRESENT REPORT:
A. Family Name
B. First Name
C. Relationship to victim
-
D. Organization represented, if any
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