Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were numerous reports government forces and ethnic militia groups committed arbitrary and unlawful killings of civilians in connection with the conflicts in Darfur and the Two Areas. Unlike previous years, abuses in Abyei were mostly the result of intercommunal violence.
Security forces used fatal excessive force against civilians, demonstrators, and detainees, including in the conflict zones (see section 1.g.).
On January 31, NISS agents detained Salah Gamar Ibrahim, a Darfuri student aligned with a Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid (SLA/AW)-affiliated student political organization, following a political forum. According to family members, NISS agents “dumped [him] in a critical state” outside his family’s home that same day. His family immediately took him to the hospital, where the next day a doctor recommended transferring him from Darfur to Khartoum for further treatment. NISS rejected the request, and Ibrahim died the same day. As of year’s end, the government had not released results of an investigation.
There were numerous abuses reported similar to the following examples: On April 20, the administration of Kordofan University ordered the closure of the university indefinitely due to the killing of student Abu Baker Hashim reportedly by the NISS during April 19 university student elections in El Obeid, North Kordofan. The school remained closed until July 31, when it reopened with a heavily armed police presence. On April 28, al-Ahlia Omdurman University ordered the school’s indefinite closure due to the killing of student Mohammed al-Sadig in April 27 clashes between progovernment and opposition students on campus. No investigations were made public.
In 2014 security forces used force and live ammunition to disperse students at the University of Khartoum protesting escalating violence in Darfur. One student, Ali Abakar Musa Idris, died of injuries. As of year’s end, the government had not released any report on the incident.
In August 2015 the government announced it would compensate families of the victims of the September 2013 protests. The Sudan Advisory Council for Human Rights reported that 81 of 85 families had agreed to accept financial compensation, while four requested authorities to open court cases. Observers estimated 200 deaths resulted from the protests. According to the government, families not initially identified for compensation were eligible for compensation if a court so decided. It was not clear this decision was publicly known. In November 2015 media reported that the Ministry of Justice had allocated three million Sudanese pounds (SDG) ($450,000) to compensate the families of the 85 identified victims killed in the protests, equivalent to 40,000 SDG ($6,000) for each victim. In addition 35 million SDG ($5.3 million) would go toward compensating victims who suffered property damage. Some members of parliament recommended postponing compensation until perpetrators of the crimes were brought to justice. Other members suggested that neither compensation nor criminal prosecutions were needed because the security forces were acting in official capacities. As of August the government had not released a report on the events of September 2013, and no lawyers representing the victims’ families reported that any of the claimants had been compensated. A prominent activist published an article challenging the government to publish the name of one compensated family member. The government gave no response. A lawyer for one family reported that most families preferred justice and accountability for perpetrators rather than compensation.
During the year President Bashir continued to have two outstanding warrants for arrest against him based on International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments in 2009 and 2010 for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Nonetheless, Bashir still traveled by invitation to countries including Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Chad, Rwanda, Mauritania, Djibouti, Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, and the United Arab Emirates.
There were reports of politically motivated disappearances. As in prior years, this included disappearances in non-conflict (as well as conflict) areas.
On May 5, nine University of Khartoum student protesters were seeking legal counsel at the office of lawyer Nabil Adeeb when NISS personnel forcibly entered, severely beat Adeeb’s staff and clients, and took the students and one staff member to unknown locations, later revealed to be NISS facilities in Khartoum and Omdurman. NISS arrested six more student protesters from their and their friends’ homes. Following domestic and international pressure, all 14 students were released. They all reported suffering physical and verbal abuse while in NISS custody, and some showed visible signs of torture. As of November, a 15th student, Asim Omer, who was arrested separately on the University of Khartoum campus, remained in custody and had been charged with murder of a police officer. Trials were underway, although delayed considerably.
According to the government, NISS maintained public information offices to receive inquiries about missing or detained family members. Families of missing or detained persons often reported that such inquiries went unanswered. In November and December, the government detained dozens of persons in front of witnesses but later refused to confirm that it had custody of any of them. In some instances, national police admitted arrest and transfer of persons to NISS custody, but NISS later would not admit custody.
There were no developments in the alleged NISS abduction of political activist Sandra Kadouda in April 2015.
Government forces and armed criminal elements were responsible for the disappearance of civilians, humanitarian workers, and UN and other international personnel in conflict areas (see section 1.g.).
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The 2005 Interim National Constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, but security forces, government-aligned groups, rebel groups, and ethnic factions continued to torture, beat, and harass suspected political opponents, rebel supporters, and others.
In accordance with the government’s interpretation of sharia (Islamic law), the penal code provides for physical punishments, including flogging, amputation, stoning, and the public display of a body after execution, despite the constitution’s prohibitions. With the exception of flogging, such physical punishment was rare. Courts routinely imposed flogging, especially as punishment for the production or consumption of alcohol.
The law requires police and the attorney general to investigate deaths on police premises, regardless of suspected cause. Reports of suspicious deaths in police custody were sometimes investigated but not prosecuted. For example, in November authorities detained a man upon his return from Israel. He died while in custody, allegedly from falling out a window, although the building had sealed windows.
The president called on the chief prosecutor and chief justice to ensure full legal protection of police carrying out their duties and stated that police should investigate police officers only when they were observed exceeding their authority.
Government security forces (including police, NISS, and military intelligence personnel of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)) beat and tortured physically and psychologically persons in detention, including members of the political opposition, civil society, religious activists, and journalists, according to civil society activists in Khartoum, former detainees, and NGOs. Torture and other forms of mistreatment included prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme temperature variations, electric shock, and use of stress positions. Some female detainees alleged NISS harassed and sexually assaulted them. Some former detainees reported being injected with an unknown substance without their consent. Many former detainees, including detained students, reported being forced to take sedatives that caused lethargy and severe weight loss. The government subsequently released many of these persons without charge.
Government authorities detained members of the Darfur Students Association during the year. Upon release, numerous students showed visible signs of severe physical abuse. Government forces reportedly used live bullets to disperse crowds of protesting Darfuri students. There were numerous reports of violence against student activists’ family members.
Security forces detained political opponents incommunicado, without charge, and tortured them. Some political detainees were held in isolation cells in regular prisons, and many were held without access to family or medical treatment. Human rights organizations asserted NISS ran “ghost houses,” where it detained opposition and human rights figures without acknowledging they were being held. Such detentions at times were prolonged.
Journalists were beaten, threatened, and intimidated (see section 2.a.).
The law prohibits (what it deems as) indecent dress and punishes it with a maximum of 40 lashes, a fine, or both. Officials acknowledged authorities applied these laws more frequently against women than men and applied them to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Courts denied some women bail, although by law they may have been eligible.
There were numerous abuses reported similar to the following example: On June 25, the Public Order Police arrested several young women and men in Khartoum under the Public Order Act for “indecent dress.” During the sweep, all women who did not have their hair covered were taken into custody. The Public Order Police further arrested two young men for wearing shorts. According to NGO reports, the Public Order Police released the young women and men later the same day without charges.
Security forces, rebel groups, and armed individuals perpetrated sexual violence against women throughout the country; the abuse was especially prevalent in the conflict areas (see section 1.g.).
As of year’s end, no investigations into the allegations of mass rape in Thabit, Darfur, had taken place (see section 6).
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
The Ministry of Interior generally does not release information on the physical conditions of prisons. Information about the number of juvenile and female prisoners was unavailable.
Physical Conditions: Prison conditions throughout the country remained harsh, overcrowded, and life threatening. The Prisons and Reform Directorate, a branch of the national police that reports to the Ministry of Interior, oversees prisons. According to human rights activists and released detainees, military intelligence officials also detained civilians on military installations, especially in conflict areas.
Overall conditions, including food, sanitary and living conditions, were reportedly better in women’s detention facilities and prisons, such as the Federal Prison for Women in Omdurman, than at equivalent facilities for men, such as Kober or Omdurman Prisons. In Khartoum juveniles were not held in adult prisons or jails, but they were reportedly held with adults elsewhere.
Prison health care, heating, ventilation, and lighting were often inadequate. Some prisoners did not have access to medications or physical examinations. Authorities generally provided food, water, and sanitation to prisoners, although the quality of all three was basic. Whereas prisoners previously relied on family or friends for food, families were no longer allowed to provide food or other items to family members. Most prisoners did not have beds. Ventilation and lighting conditions differed between prisons. Overcrowding was a major problem.
There were reports of deaths due to negligence in prisons and pretrial detention centers, but comprehensive figures were not available. Local press reported deaths resulting from suspected torture by police (see section 1.a.). Human rights advocates reported that additional deaths resulted from harsh conditions, such as extreme heat and lack of water, at military detention facilities.
In March the Sudan News Agency reported the Ministry of Justice would release 1,749 inmates to alleviate overcrowding. The releases included 431 inmates from Dabak Prison, 70 from Kober Prison, 84 from Omdurman Men’s Prison, 521 women with 107 children from the Omdurman Women’s Prison, 479 from Sob and Jeriaf Prisons, and 164 from al-Huda Prison. Whether those released included political prisoners or captured rebels was not known.
In March media reported that Nyala Prison, built to accommodate 650 inmates, held more than 1,000 inmates.
Authorities regularly denied prisoners held in NISS facilities visits from family and lawyers and, in the case of foreign prisoners, from foreign government representatives. Some former detainees reported security forces held them incommunicado; beat them; deprived them of food, water, and toilets; and forced them to sleep on cold floors.
Political prisoners were held in special sections of prisons. The main prison in Khartoum, Kober Prison, contained separate sections for political prisoners, those convicted of financial crimes, and others. NISS holding cells in Omdurman prisons were known to local activists as “the fridges” due to the extremely cold-controlled temperatures and the lack of windows and sunlight.
The number of deaths in prison was unknown. On August 18, the Sudan Tribune newspaper reported five Justice and Equality Movement/Debajo (JEM/D) faction rebel detainees died of tuberculosis due to neglect, overcrowding, and prison authorities’ refusal to send prisoners for treatment.
Detainees reported physical violence by guards. Political detainees reported facing harsher treatment. One former detainee recounted being forced to beat a fellow-detainee while both were blindfolded. He stated he did not know who he was beating until the other detainee screamed in pain. Other former detainees recounted hours-long beating sessions during which NISS agents reportedly rounded up multiple prisoners, moved them to a large room, beat them with closed fists, and struck them with weapons.
Rebel groups in Darfur and the Two Areas reportedly detained persons in isolated locations in prison-like detention centers.
Administration: It was difficult to confirm prison administrative records were complete and accurate, as the government considered such information confidential and did not release it. Prison officials reportedly did not always know how many inmates NISS held in prisons.
Police reportedly allowed some visitors, including lawyers and family members, while prisoners were in custody and during judicial hearings. Political detainees and other prisoners held in NISS custody seldom were allowed visits from lawyers or family members, despite repeated requests for access. Visitors generally were not allowed access to prisoners held in NISS custody, however.
Christian clergy held services in prisons, but access was irregular and varied across prisons. Imams were granted access to facilitate Friday prayers.
There was no ombudsman or inspector general specifically designated for prisons. The police inspector general, the minister of justice, and the judiciary are authorized to inspect prisons.
Independent Monitoring: The government did not permit unrestricted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC was not allowed to visit prisons during the year and was required to get permits to travel to conflict areas. The majority of its work comprised tracing missing persons and reuniting families separated by conflict.
The government denied unrestricted access to diplomatic missions for consular visits. Diplomatic missions rarely were notified when nationals from their countries were arrested. When embassies were notified of arrests, representatives were allowed to speak to detainees’ families and lawyers but never allowed to visit inmates. There was no access to NISS or military intelligence detention facilities.
The Ministry of Justice occasionally granted the UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) access to government prisons in Darfur, but with restrictions. The government in most cases denied access to specific files, records, and prisoners. As such, UNAMID was unable to verify inmates who reportedly were held illegally as political prisoners brought in by NISS, after having undergone no judicial process. The human rights section had unfettered physical access to general prisons (with the exception of NISS and Military Intelligence detention centers) in South, North, East, and West Darfur, but in Central Darfur (where most of the conflict occurred during the year), UNAMID had no access to any prison or detention center.
During the year the government granted the UN independent expert for the human rights situation in Sudan access to the Omdurman Men’s and Women’s Prisons, where he was briefed on detention conditions.
The state of detention facilities administered by Sudan Liberation Movement–Abdul Wahid (SLM/AW) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) in their respective rebel-controlled areas could not be verified due to lack of access.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The Interim National Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and requires that individuals be notified of the charges against them when they are arrested. Arbitrary arrests and detentions, however, remained common under the law, which allows for arrest without warrants and detention up to four and one-half months. Authorities often released detainees when their initial detention periods expired but took them into custody the next day for an additional period. Authorities, especially NISS, arbitrarily detained political opponents and those believed to sympathize with the opposition (see section 1.e.).
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
Several government entities have responsibility for internal security, including the Ministries of Interior and Defense and NISS. The government attempted to respond to some interethnic fighting, and, in a few instances, was effective in mediating peaceful solutions. The government had a poor record, however, in preventing societal violence. Numerous residents in Darfur, for example, routinely complained of a lack of governing presence or authority that could prevent or deter violent crime.
NISS is responsible for internal security and all intelligence matters. It functions independent of any ministry. Constitutional amendments passed in January 2015 expanded NISS’s mandate to include authorities traditionally reserved for the military and judiciary. Under the amendments, NISS may establish courts and is allowed greater latitude for making arrests; its officers are shielded from normal prosecution. The Ministry of Interior oversees the national police, including security police, Special Forces police, traffic police, and the combat-trained Central Reserve police. There was a police presence throughout the country. The Ministry of Defense oversees all elements of the SAF, including the Border Guards and military intelligence units.
In 2013 the government created the RSF, a new element of the security apparatus. A former SAF general commanded the RSF, but NISS oversaw its operations. The RSF continued to play a significant role in the government’s campaigns against rebel movements and was implicated in the majority of reports of human rights violations against civilians. The government tightly controlled information about the RSF, and public comment critical of the RSF often resulted in arrest or detention (see section 2.a.). In June the president decided the RSF would report directly to him. In at least one case in October in White Nile State, the RSF clashed with SAF after the RSF caused a disturbance in a nearby settlement resulting in several casualties. Afterward, the SAF commander (not the RSF commander) was summoned to Khartoum for reprimand.
While the law provides NISS officials with legal protection for acts committed in their official capacity, the government reported NISS maintained an internal court system to address internal discipline and investigate and prosecute violations of the National Security Act, including abuse of power under the act. Penalties included up to 10 years in prison, a fine, or both for NISS officers found in violation. During the year, however, the government gave no access to information regarding how many cases it had closed. In October a key national dialogue recommendation was to rescind unilateral additions to the constitution that exempt NISS from the national jurisprudence system. Despite promises to implement all national dialogue recommendations, as of December the government did not include NISS reforms as part of the national dialogue package of laws it presented to the National Assembly.
NGOs reported that clashes between protesters and government forces in September 2013 caused more than 185 deaths (see section 1.a.). The government announced the Ministry of Justice would investigate the government’s use of force. The government provided its conclusions to the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan in 2014. Contrary to the independent expert’s recommendations, the government did not make its full report public. Lawyers representing the affected families stated that most of the families did not want compensation but wanted apprehension and trial of the perpetrators. Lawyers stated that only a minority of families settled for compensation, and the government had not compensated any families who had opted for such compensation. Government officials asserted only 85 families were eligible for compensation. Of the 85 families, the government claimed it had already compensated 81. Opposition figures denied any compensation had been made and challenged the government to publish names of those who had been compensated, but the government refused.
Following a July visit to Darfur by a foreign government official, 15 Darfuri internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had spoken with him in Nertiti and Sortoni were arrested as was a UNAMID worker who had aided in arranging the meetings. By September, eight were released, including the UNAMID staff member; seven others remained detained and were transferred to a central location in Zalengei, Darfur. When pressed about these cases in August, Human Rights Advisory Council rapporteur Yassir Ahmed Alhassan stated that the council could not respond to every human rights abuse reported by media. By November, six more detainees had been released, and one remained in detention in Zalengei.
Corruption among police and other security forces continued to be a problem. Security forces including police harassed suspected government opponents. On June 1, the Ministry of Justice announced it had closed the case of the 2012 deaths of three students of al-Jazeera University. The general counselor reported the investigation confirmed the involvement of some police, and the prosecution ordered the lifting of their immunity as a step toward taking them to court. The ministry reportedly contacted the three students’ families afterward and offered financial compensation of an unknown amount, which the three families reportedly accepted.
Impunity remained a serious problem throughout the security forces, although crimes involving child victims were prosecuted more regularly. Aside from the inconsistent use of NISS’ special courts (see above), the government infrequently lifted police immunity or pressed charges against SAF officers. The government also generally failed to investigate violations committed by any branch of the security forces.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Under the National Security Act, warrants are not required for an arrest. The law permits authorities to detain individuals for three days for the purpose of inquiry. The magistrate can renew detention without charge for up to two weeks. The superior magistrate may renew detentions weekly during investigation for up to six months for a person who is charged.
The law allows detentions for up to 45 days before individuals are charged. The NISS director may refer certain cases to the Security Council and request an extension of up to three months, allowing detentions of up to four and one-half months without charge. Authorities often released detainees when their detentions expired and rearrested them soon after for a new detention period, so that detainees were held for several months without charge.
The constitution and law provide for an individual to be informed in detail of charges at the time of arrest, with interpretation as needed, and for judicial determination without undue delay, but these provisions were rarely followed. Individuals accused of threatening national security routinely were charged under the national security law, rather than the criminal code, and frequently detained without charge.
The law allows for bail, except for those accused of crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment. There was a functioning bail system; however, the cases of persons released on bail often awaited action indefinitely.
The law provides for access to legal representation, but security forces often held persons incommunicado for long periods in unknown locations. By law, any person may request legal assistance and must be informed of the right to counsel in cases potentially involving the death penalty, imprisonment lasting longer than 10 years, or amputation. The government was not always able to provide legal assistance, and legal aid organizations and lawyers partially filled the gap.
Arbitrary Arrest: NISS, police, and military intelligence arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. Authorities often detained persons for a few days before releasing them without charge, but many persons were held much longer. The government often targeted political opponents and suspected rebel supporters (see section 1.e.).
NISS officials frequently denied holding individuals in their custody or refused to confirm their place of detention. In lieu of formal detention, NISS increasingly called individuals to report to NISS offices for long hours on a daily basis without a stated purpose. Many human rights observers considered this a tactic to harass, intimidate, and disrupt the lives of opposition members and activists, prevent the carrying out of “opposition” activities, and prevent the recording of formal detentions.
In November and December, hundreds of persons were detained without charges, including several prominent human rights activists and the leadership of registered political parties, some for weeks without visits from families or counsel. Most of the arrests were part of a general crackdown that followed calls for civil disobedience over government austerity measures. For example, NISS agents arrested prominent human rights activist Mudawi Ibrahim Adam on December 7. He remained in detention without charge at year’s end.
Authorities also arbitrarily arrested and detained foreign nationals without charge. In some cases authorities used intimidation and financial pressure to force foreigners to leave the country.
The government sometimes sought to get Sudanese citizens living abroad deported from their countries of residence. In July 2015 Waleed al-Hussein, the creator of critical online news outlet al-Rakoba, was arrested in Saudi Arabia, where he had been residing with his family. He was subjected to interrogations about his work with al-Rakoba, held in solitary confinement without charge for more than two months, and threatened with deportation to Sudan. In November 2015 he was transferred to a general holding cell. Family members believed he was arrested at the request of the Sudanese government, which had targeted Hussein for his work in the past and was seeking to have him extradited to Sudan. The government, however, denied having anything to do with the journalist’s detention. Al-Hussein was released from prison in March, but Saudi authorities did not give him an exit permit to depart Saudi Arabia until September.
There were reports of individuals detained due to their actual or assumed support of antigovernment forces, such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and Darfur rebel movements. Local NGOs reported that some women were detained because of their association with men suspected of being SPLM-N supporters (see section 1.g.).
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was common. The large number of detainees and judicial inefficiency resulted in trial delays. In cases involving political defendants accused of subverting national security, the accused may be held for as long as four and one- half months, with the possibility of further extended detention periods, before being formally charged. In his report to the Human Rights Council, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan expressed concern about several reports received of prolonged detentions and persons held without access to legal aid. He called on the government to release all detained persons or charge them with a recognizable offense in accordance with the law.
A number of pastors arrested in December 2015 remained detained during the year. Some were released but required to report daily to NISS. In December 2015 Kowa Shamal, Hassan Abdelrahim, and Christian activist Talahon Nigosi Kassa Ratta were arrested. Yamani Abraha, Filmon Hassan, Ayoub Talian, and Yacoub Naway were arrested and released later the same day. NISS arrested Christian activists Peter Jasek (a Czech citizen), Ali Omer, and Abdelmoneim Abdelmaula in December 2015 in connection with the pastors. Shamal, Abdelrahim, Jasek, and Abdelmaula were held without charge until August, when they were charged with eight crimes, including espionage and warring against the state, crimes that carry the death penalty. As of year’s end, all remained in custody and trials continued. In late December, Sudanese Church of Christ Pastor Kuwa Shamal was released after charges against him were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
Detainees’ Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained, regardless of whether on criminal or other grounds, were not entitled to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and, therefore, were not able to obtain prompt release or compensation if unlawfully detained.
Amnesty: In September 2015 the government granted general amnesty for leaders and members of the armed movements taking part in the national dialogue. The amnesty covered “all words and deeds that constitute crimes during the period of the participation in the national dialogue.” Many observers considered the amnesty a government incentive to encourage opposition members living abroad to return to the country for participation in the dialogue without fear of arrest or reprisal. As of November there were no known reports of arrests of opposition members who participated in the dialogue, although NISS detained and seized the travel documents of opposition members who met abroad (see section 2.d.). Leading opposition members living in exile who had called for more freedoms as a condition to their participation in the dialogue had not taken advantage of the general amnesty. The decree also called for the release of political prisoners whose parties participated in the dialogue. There were no known reports of such releases.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Although the constitution and relevant laws provide for an independent judiciary, courts were largely subordinate to government officials and the security forces, particularly in cases of alleged crimes against the state. On occasion courts displayed a degree of independence. Political interference with the courts, however, was commonplace, and some high-ranking members of the judiciary held positions in the Ministry of Interior or other ministries in the executive branch.
The judiciary was inefficient and subject to corruption. In Darfur and other remote areas, judges were often absent from their posts, delaying trials.
A state of emergency in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan allowed for arrest and detention without trial.
The constitution and law provide for a fair and public trial as well as a presumption of innocence; however, this provision was rarely respected. Trials are open to the public at the discretion of the judge. In cases of national security and offenses against the state, trials are usually closed. The law stipulates that the government is obligated to provide a lawyer for indigents in cases in which punishment might exceed 10 years’ imprisonment or include execution. Accused persons may also request assistance through the legal aid department at the Ministry of Justice or the Sudanese Bar Association.
By law criminal defendants must be informed promptly of the charges against them at the time of their arrest and charged in detail and with interpretation as needed. Individuals arrested by NISS often were not informed of the reasons for their arrest.
Defendants generally have the right to present evidence and witnesses, be present in court, confront accusers, and have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. Some defendants reportedly did not receive legal counsel, and counsel in some cases could only advise the defendant and not address the court. Persons in remote areas and in areas of conflict generally did not have access to legal counsel. The government sometimes did not allow defense witnesses to testify.
Defendants have the right to appeal, except in military trials, where there is no appeal. Defendants were sometimes permitted time and facilities to prepare their defense, although in more political cases, charges could be disclosed with little warning and could change as the trial proceeded. Defendants in common criminal cases, such as theft, as well as in politicized cases were often compelled to confess guilt while in police custody through physical abuse and police intimidation of family members.
Lawyers wishing to practice are required to maintain membership in the government-controlled Sudanese Bar Association. The government continued to arrest and harass lawyers whom it considered political opponents.
Military trials, which sometimes were secret and brief, lacked procedural safeguards. For example, a defendant’s attorney could advise the defendant but could not address the court.
A 2013 amendment to the 2007 Sudanese Armed Forces Act subjects any civilians in SAF-controlled areas believed to be rebels or members of paramilitary group to military trials. NISS and military intelligence officers applied this amendment to detainees in the conflict areas. In 2013, SPLM-N forces attacked and captured Abu Karshola, South Kordofan. The government launched an intensive campaign to liberate Abu Karshola from the SPLM-N. Afterwards, seven civilians who supported SPLM-N were arrested and charged in a military court with treason and waging war against the state, which carries the death penalty. The court-martial concluded in June; charges against one defendant were dropped, and the remaining six awaited the final verdict as of September.
Three-person security courts deal with violations of constitutional decrees, emergency regulations, and some sections of the penal code, including drug and currency offenses. Special courts composed primarily of civilian judges handled most security-related cases. Defendants had limited opportunities to meet with counsel and were not always allowed to present witnesses during trial.
Due to long distances between court facilities and police stations, local mediation was often the first resort to try to resolve disputes. In some instances tribal courts operating outside the official legal system decided cases. Such courts did not provide the same protections as regular courts.
While Islamic jurisprudence (sharia) strongly influenced the law, sharia was generally not applied to Christians in civil domestic cases such as those concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance, and other family matters.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
The government continued to hold political prisoners and detainees, including protesters. Due to lack of access, the numbers of political prisoners and detainees could not be confirmed. Human rights monitors reported political prisoners as being in the hundreds; the government claimed it did not have political prisoners.
The government severely restricted international humanitarian organizations’ and human rights monitors’ access to political detainees. The government allowed UNAMID extremely limited access to Darfuri political detainees in Khartoum and Darfur.
The government also arbitrarily detained and otherwise targeted numerous Darfuri students on university campuses. On June 28, the Criminal Court in Khartoum North locality sentenced Ahmed Baggari to death by hanging in April, following legal proceedings after Baggari was accused of the April 2015 killing of Mohamed Awadelkarim, a fellow student and the secretary general of the ruling NCP Party-aligned Islamic Movement in East Nile College in Khartoum. Baggari’s defense team appealed the case to the Court of Appeals. In December the Court of Appeals cancelled the death sentence and ordered his imprisonment for five years and a payment of SDG 40,000 ($6,000) in compensation to the relatives of Awadelkarim.
Government authorities detained Darfuri students and political opponents throughout the year, often subjecting them to torture (see section 1.c.).
The government continued to arrest or temporarily detain opposition members. In November, following the government’s announcement of fuel subsidy cuts, NISS “preventatively” detained 29 political opposition leaders, primarily from the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP), the Communist Party, and the National Consensus Forces. There were numerous examples similar to the following: On November 27, NISS agents followed the vehicle of Dr. Galal Yousif, a member of the SCoP, before intimidating, forcefully abducting, and taking him to an unknown location. As of December, Yousif remained in detention without access to his family or his lawyer.
In April authorities detained more than 25 University of Khartoum graduates after they participated in a protest against the reported selling of the university’s main campus. Numerous university students were also arrested and released in May and again detained after a raid on their lawyer’s office (see sections 1.b. and 1.f.). The length of their detentions varied.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Persons seeking damages for human rights violations had access to domestic and international courts. The judiciary, however, was not independent. There were problems enforcing domestic and international court orders (see section 5). According to the law, individuals and organizations may appeal adverse domestic decisions to regional human rights bodies. Individuals, however, reported they feared reprisal (see section 2.d.).
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Interim National Constitution and law prohibit such actions, but the government routinely violated these rights. Emergency laws in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile states legalize interference in privacy, family, home, and correspondence.
Security forces frequently conducted searches without warrants and targeted persons suspected of political crimes. NISS often confiscated private property, especially electronic equipment. During a May raid on the legal office and home of prominent human rights lawyer Nabil Adeeb, NISS agents entered without judicial authorization and confiscated Adeeb’s personal laptop, hardcopy files, and mobile phone. The authorities never returned Adeeb’s laptop and files, although they returned his mobile phone shortly afterward.
The government monitored private communication and movement of individuals and organizations without due legal process. A wide network of government informants conducted surveillance in schools, universities, markets, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
Under sharia a Muslim man may marry a Jewish or Christian woman. A Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man. This prohibition was not universally enforced. Non-Muslims may adopt only non-Muslim children; a comparable restriction does not apply to Muslim parents.
In May 2014 a local court sentenced Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag to 100 lashes and death by hanging for committing apostasy and adultery by marrying a Christian man. Ishag identified herself as a Christian. The government released Ishag from custody in June 2014 after the Court of Appeals overturned her conviction, citing mental health issues. Following significant international pressure, authorities allowed her to leave the country the following month but did not officially rescind the charges against her. In December 2015 Ishag’s defense panel appealed the court decision to the Constitutional Court in an effort to challenge the constitutionality of apostasy. As of September the case remained pending.