Sudan

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.

b. Disappearance

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.

TRIAL PROCEDURES

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.

Killings: From January to September, military personnel and paramilitary forces committed numerous killings in Darfur and the Two Areas. In mid-January the government launched an aerial and ground offensive to dislodge the SLA/AW from its strongholds in the mountainous areas of Central, North, and South Darfur.

According to press and NGO reports, RSF personnel under NISS command committed numerous killings, often after barrel bombs were dropped by Antonov An-26 aircraft during government offensives in Darfur and the Two Areas. Human rights groups reported such aerial bombardments disproportionately hurt civilians. Most reports were difficult to verify due to continued prohibited access to conflict areas, particularly Jebel Marra in Darfur and SPLM-N-controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

In late September, Amnesty International issued a report alleging that, during the first nine months of the year, the government engaged in scorched earth tactics and used chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur, resulting in deaths. UN monitors were unable to verify the alleged use of chemical weapons, due in part to the lack of access to Jebel Marra from rebel commanders loyal to Abdel Wahid. At year’s end the OPCW had not been presented with sufficient corroborating evidence to conclude chemical weapons had been used.

Clashes between government forces, government-armed militias, and rebel movements, notably the SLA/AW in Darfur and the SPLM-N in the Two Areas, resulted in casualties on all sides. Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi and Justice and Equality Movement/Gibril were generally inactive during the year. Intercommunal conflict and societal violence continued to be the most deadly consequences of the conflict in Darfur. The continued utilization and arming of local militias as proxies and the continued influence of these groups in part due to their heavy armament, coupled with widespread impunity, allowed the conflict to spread systemically as clashes over land, cattle, and other resources intensified. Clashes between heavily armed communal groups, particularly in East, South, and North Darfur, resulted in significant casualties (dead and injured) on all sides.

Many deaths continued to be attributed to the SAF and militia groups. Security deteriorated in North Darfur. Violence in the Jebel Marra area of East Darfur, including indiscriminate SAF aerial and artillery bombardments, continued, although this largely ceased by September.

On May 1, the SAF bombed Heiban, South Kordofan, killing six children. The incident drew widespread protests in Khartoum following the sharing of their pictures via social media. On May 23, during the memorial service for the six children, an SAF jet dropped two bombs in the area, injuring four more children and killing a six-month-old baby. On May 27, two parachute bombs were dropped onto the compound of St. Vincent Primary School in Kauda, injuring a Kenyan teacher and damaging classrooms and a library. Casualties were limited, as the attack did not take place during school hours. Reports of such aerial attacks in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State ceased by September.

SAF air raids resulted in civilian deaths and the destruction of fields and impeded the planting of crops throughout Darfur and the Two Areas. Throughout the year the SAF repeatedly bombed cultivated land, disrupting planting cycles, which, coupled with forced displacements and the denial of humanitarian assistance, resulted in near famine-like conditions. There were also numerous reports of the SAF using cluster bombs in both Darfur and the Two Areas. NGOs accused the government of using the denial of food as a weapon of war.

On June 9, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reported to the UN Security Council that aerial bombardments had resulted in more than 400 civilian deaths and up to 200 villages destroyed. She also reported that air raids on January 21 on an East Jebel Marra village reportedly killed 48 women and destroyed six houses. The UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Darfur stated it had evidence the country’s air force had RBK-500 cluster bombs at the weapon-loading area at the Nyala Forward Operation Base. On March 25, the SAF shelled al-Habel village in Um Dorein County of South Kordofan and injured two girls, 11 and 10 years old.

In April, SAF raids killed five children and injured 22. Multiple schools were reportedly bombed and others closed due to the fighting, particularly those near the front line. The Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO UK), a UK-based human rights monitoring organization with sources on the ground in conflict areas, also reported that aerial bombardments in Darfur and the Two Areas killed 391 persons and injured 417. Various reports corroborated a minimum of seven aerial bombardments in Darfur in August alone, focused on the Jebel Marra region, Central Darfur, with two raids in North Darfur and one in South Darfur. There were numerous abuses similar to the following example: On August 29, in the North Darfur village of Kator, government-aligned militias attacked a group of displaced civilians, killing three and injuring four. The IDP’s were fleeing earlier bombardments on their home village of Qabas.

In Darfur clashes between the government and rebel factions continued, as did attacks by the government’s RSF forces on unarmed civilians in South, North, and East Darfur and in the Two Areas.

Ground attacks targeting civilians were also serious problems in both Darfur and the Two Areas. There were numerous abuses similar to the following example: On June 12, an SAF soldier shot and killed Amna Adam Kuku in Elfaid Um-Abdalla because he reportedly suspected her brother was a sympathizer of the SPLM-N.

The following incident involving NISS is illustrative of abuses taking place in West Darfur: On January 8, the body of a shepherd for the Arab Bani Halba tribe was found near the Massalit village of Moli, approximately six to 12 miles south of El Geneina. According to UNAMID, the Bani Halba demanded compensation, but the Massalit denied involvement and refused. On January 9, Bani Halba tribesmen, many or all of whom served as border guards–supported by fellow border guards from the Arab tribes of Maharia, Awlad Janoub, Awlad Marni, and Sheigerat–attacked Moli with up to 200 men and 20 Toyota Land Cruisers in retaliation. Reportedly five to 10 Massalit were killed, and many IDPs fled to El Geneina. On January 10, the displaced Massalit from Moli protested in front of the governor’s offices. Protests reportedly turned violent when no one acknowledged their complaints. The demonstrators forcefully entered the governor’s office and residence, set afire a tent and offices (reportedly the residence of the governor’s security guards), and burned or upended multiple vehicles.

The protesters put up barricades of burning tires in front of the governor’s compound. Police and NISS subsequently clashed with the protesters and opened fire with live ammunition, killing six. There were also unconfirmed reports that either Arab tribesmen or Massalit protesters killed a NISS officer during the protests, taking his weapon, in addition to seven to eight NISS officers injured. On January 11, while Massalit protesters were still occupying the governor’s compound (although confrontation had ceased), shots were fired into the funeral procession of those who were killed on January 10, killing at least three additional Massalit IDPs and wounding six others. The shots were reportedly fired while the procession was passing NISS offices, and reportedly security forces had mistaken the large group of mourners for protesters. In all, at least 13 persons were killed, while many more were wounded.

There were also numerous abuses of detainees reported similar to the following: On February 16, NISS in Tadamoun locality arrested Elnour Mohammed Elfadeel at his house following accusations he possessed a gun without a license. On February 17, he arrived at Damazine Military Hospital in critical condition and died in the hospital that same day. Medical sources stated the cause of death was fractures to the neck and skull.

According to the ICC prosecutor’s June report, in both Darfur and the Two Areas, there were reported attacks on humanitarian aid workers and peacekeepers, with one peacekeeper killed in Darfur.

In Abyei, the security situation remained unpredictable but generally calm. Most human rights abuses were due to tribal conflict between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya, with several major security incidents occurring in and around the marketplaces. On May 8, UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) troops disarmed a Misseriya and an Ngok Dinka found with a rifle and hand grenade, respectively, at the Noong common market. On June 21, in the Kolom area, unknown assailants armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on a commercial pickup vehicle transporting traders from Twic County in Warrap State, South Sudan, to the common market at Noong. The attack left three persons dead and two seriously wounded. On June 21, UNISFA reported that unknown armed men shot at a civilian vehicle with seven persons on board travelling from Agok to Noog, Abyei, killing three persons and injuring two others.

Abductions: International organizations were unable independently to verify reports of disappearances due to lack of access to the region. Humanitarian actors reported unverified cases of government-aligned forces abducting or detaining civilians, including women, due to their suspected affiliation with the SPLM-N.

There were numerous abuses similar to the following: According to the Human Rights and Development Organization, a monitoring organization with sources on the ground in the Two Areas, Musa Aabdein Ali, a government employee, was found alive but in poor health in military intelligence custody on March 15 after five years of detention. He was abducted in 2011 soon after hostilities erupted in South Kordofan. Ali reportedly had no political affiliation. Military intelligence, NISS, and political authorities denied knowing his whereabouts. Ali reported he was detained incommunicado and faced physical abuse and poor health and sanitary conditions.

SUDO UK reported 86 abductions throughout the conflict areas from January to August, 45 in May alone. UNAMID reported 55 abductions in Darfur from January to September 15. While government or government-aligned entities perpetrated the majority of these abductions, some were carried out by unknown armed criminal groups. One such incident in January included a carjacking, two robberies, and the abduction of a World Food Program (WFP)-contract driver and his truck. The driver was released in the Kutum area several days later.

UNAMID reported that abduction remained a coercive method adopted by the various tribes in Darfur to obtain the payment of diya(“blood money” ransom) claimed from other communities.

Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Human rights organizations accused government forces and rebel groups in Darfur and the Two Areas of perpetrating torture and other human rights violations and abuses. Government forces abused persons detained in connection with armed conflict as well as IDPs suspected of having links to rebel groups. There were continuing reports that government security forces, progovernment and antigovernment militias, and other armed persons raped women and children.

In Darfur, fighting involved government forces, rebels, and ethnic militias, and it was often along communal lines. These armed groups, including the RSF, which NISS controlled, killed and injured civilians, raped women and children, looted properties, targeted IDP camps, and burned villages in all of Darfur’s five states. Multiple sources reported the RSF also destroyed and plundered water wells, food stores, and community resources, including livestock. A September Amnesty International report alleged the government used chemical weapons to target civilian areas in Jebel Marra, Darfur from January to September. UN monitors were unable to verify the alleged use of chemical weapons, due in part to lack of access to Jebel Marra and insufficient corroborating evidence. The report that also alleged the government engaged in scorched earth tactics was corroborated by multiple sources from Darfur.

These acts resulted in approximately 80,600 newly displaced persons by September, but, nevertheless, a decrease from 243,000 reported during the same period the previous year. An increase in criminality and banditry also contributed to a deterioration of overall security in Darfur. UNAMID continued to document hundreds of cases of human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, other abuses of the right to physical integrity, and arbitrary arrest and detention.

Sexual and gender-based violence continued throughout Darfur and the Two Areas. The ICC prosecutor in her June report to the UN Security Council noted 107 reported incidents of sexual crimes affecting 225 victims, indicating that 70 per cent of these incidents involved gang rape, of which 19 per cent victimized minors. Authorities often obstructed access to justice for rape victims. IDPs reported perpetrators of such violence were often government armed force or militia members. SUDO UK reported the confirmed rape by RSF agents of 125 persons, mostly IDP’s, including 32 minors, from January to August in both Darfur and the Two Areas.

Widespread impunity remained a major challenge, aggravated by government’s limited capacity, the absence of a security environment conducive to civilian safety across Darfur, and use of excess force by security forces. For example, on March 24, NISS agents reportedly arrested a female student on her way to the University of El Geneina and assaulted her. Seven students from Nyala University who were arrested on April 26 for demonstrating against the increase in public transport fees reported having been similarly beaten in detention. Neither case had been investigated by year’s end.

The government prosecuted some crimes involving government officials. Although rare, prosecutions were most common in cases involving violations against minors. On May 10, a court in El Geneina convicted and sentenced a soldier to 20 years’ imprisonment for the rape of a seven-year-old girl. The UN Independent Expert for the human rights situation in Sudan expressed concern about nine rapes of women from the Zam camp in April, when they were outside the camp engaged in livelihood activities.

The SAF and government-aligned forces also reportedly burned and looted villages in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. There were reports of physical abuse and violent interrogations of SPLM-N-affiliated individuals in Kadugli Prison and military installations.

Human rights groups continued to report that government forces and allied militias raped, detained, tortured, and arbitrarily killed civilians in government-controlled areas of Blue Nile. SUDO UK reported 269 cases of arbitrary arrest, 56 of which involved civilians detained in containers in Damazine, Blue Nile.

On March 31, Radio Tamazuj reported shelling by the SPLM-N of civilian areas in Kadugli town, specifically Sama, Saraf, and Um Bataha neighborhoods. Reported claims by “local sources” that “nobody was hurt” were difficult to verify.

In July and August, the government accused the SPLM-N of attacking a Chinese-run gold mine bordering South and North Kordofan. The attacks were difficult to verify due to lack of access.

There were varying reports in July of violence that affected civilians in Lima, Southern Kordofan, including reports that eight Misseriya tribesmen were killed during an altercation with an SPLM-N soldier over a reported cattle theft. It was unclear, however, whether the Misseriya killed were civilians or part of the government-aligned militia Popular Defense Forces.

Unexploded ordinance killed and injured many innocent civilians in the country’s conflict zones. There were numerous examples similar to the following: On November 27, in Singa, north of Damazine, Blue Nile, the explosion of an undetonated remnant of war injured five children.

On March 27, the Radio Dabanga online newspaper reported six gold miners died in an explosion in Tawila locality of Darfur when their vehicle drove over and detonated unexploded ordinance. Apart from the six miners who were killed, three others were reportedly seriously injured.

Child Soldiers: The law prohibits the recruitment of children and provides criminal penalties for perpetrators. Allegations persisted, however, that armed movements, government forces, and government-aligned militias had child soldiers within their ranks.

According to several reports, the government provided material and logistical support in the country to the South Sudan opposition group, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition, which was widely reported to recruit and use child soldiers.

Many children lacked documents verifying their age. Children’s rights organizations believed armed groups exploited this lack of documentation to recruit or retain children. Due to problems of access, particularly in conflict zones, reports of child soldiers were limited and often difficult to verify. The government denied allegations it recruited or used child soldiers within its armed forces. During the March 27 to 30 visit of the UN special representative for children and armed conflict, the government signed an action plan to end and prevent recruitment and use of children by its security forces. The special representative documented 21 children detained by NISS since April and August 2015 for their alleged association with the rebel group JEM. The children had allegedly been recruited in South Kordofan and South Sudan and used in combat in Darfur and South Sudan. In September the government pardoned and released the children to a reintegration program. JEM representatives claimed the children did not belong to their faction. In addition, the United Nations documented the recruitment of six children by JEM from refugee settlements in Unity State, South Sudan. In September the country’s Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Commission reported that 169 child soldiers, all from the Liberation and Justice Movement, had been assembled in South Darfur for DDR procedures.

In September, UNAMID reported that concerted efforts to curb the recruitment of child soldiers in Darfur had led to significant progress, but the potential use of children in ethnic clashes remained a major concern.

Representatives of armed groups reported they did not actively recruit child soldiers. They did not prevent children who volunteered from joining their movements. The armed groups stated the children were stationed primarily in training camps and were not used in combat.

There were reports of the use of child soldiers by the SPLM-N, but numbers could not be verified, in part due to lack of access to SPLM-N-controlled territories. On November 23, in Geneva, Malik Agar of the SPLM-N and Leila Zerrougui, the representative of the UN secretary-general on children and armed conflict, signed an action plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In her remarks, Zerrougui said the government, nonstate actors, and everyone involved in armed conflict must cooperate and acknowledge that the rules of law “apply to children two times over.” She noted that Sudan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and is party to other international agreements, meaning the legal framework is in place and the main focus should be implementation.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Other Conflict-related Abuse: All parties to the conflict in Darfur obstructed the work of humanitarian organizations, UNAMID, and other UN agencies, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. The government also continued to deny access to humanitarian organizations and UN agencies in Darfur, the Jebel Marra region in particular, and all government-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile (the SPLM-N also denied access to areas in their control), isolating an estimated 800,000 IDPs and severely limiting access to life-saving humanitarian assistance. Violence, insecurity, the delay and denial of visas and travel permits, and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services. As of December 20, 30 visas requested in January by UNAMID remained pending.

Government forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance. The government restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed operational procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups. Unidentified armed groups also targeted humanitarian workers for kidnapping and ransom.

Fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic obstacles, and government and rebel restrictions reduced the ability of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to access conflict-affected areas. Armed persons attacked, killed, injured, and kidnapped peacekeepers and aid workers. Humanitarian organizations often were not able to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict areas, particularly in Jebel Marra, South Darfur. According to the UN secretary-general’s report on UNAMID on March 22, the SLA/AW faction attacked UNAMID forces with heavy weapons near Kutum on January 1, injuring one South African peacekeeper. In November armed men abducted three staffers of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): two Nepalese and one a Sudanese national. During the same week, five armed masked men in a Land Cruiser without license plates abducted three Sudanese employees of UNAMID in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, while they were traveling to the mission’s headquarters, which is 13 miles southeast of Nyala.

All states in Darfur were under varying states of emergency. Between December 2015 and September, there were 1,626 cases of criminality and banditry, which included 384 killings. The attacks included rape, armed robbery, abduction, ambush, livestock theft, assault/harassment, arson, and burglary and were allegedly carried out primarily by Arab militias, but also by government forces, unknown assailants, and rebel elements.

Security in Darfur continued to deteriorate due to the rise in criminal activity and intercommunal conflict. The independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan noted with concern that, during the year, the size and scale of intercommunal clashes over cattle rustling and control of natural resources in Eastern Darfur had been unprecedented, as were the sophisticated firearms used by the combatants.

Large-scale displacement continued to be a severe problem in Darfur and the Two Areas, and government restrictions and security constraints continued to limit access to affected populations and impeded the delivery of humanitarian services (see section 2.d.).

Throughout the year the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) obstructed the work of NGOs and international humanitarian actors in the country’s conflict zones (see section 5).

Following meetings between UNAMID and the government, food-ration containers were released from Port Sudan, while, as of September, 59 shipments (101 containers) were still pending clearance. A total of 367 shipments of UN-owned and contingent-owned equipment, some of which had been there since April 2015, remained at Port Sudan and Khartoum, pending Ministry of Finance approval and customs clearance. The resulting shortages severely hampered the ability of UNAMID troops to communicate, conduct robust patrols, and protect civilians; they incurred demurrage charges and additional costs for troop- and police-contributing countries and the United Nations.

Attacks on humanitarian and UNAMID convoys continued. Bandits obstructed humanitarian assistance, regularly attacked the compounds of humanitarian organizations, and seized humanitarian aid and other assets, including vehicles. Instability forced many international aid organizations to reduce their operations in Darfur. The UN secretary-general stated, however, that the number of attacks against UN agencies and humanitarian organizations continued to decline. On March 27, a national staff member of the WFP was robbed in Nyala, South Darfur. On April 5, three local staff members of an international nongovernmental organization were robbed near El Geneina, West Darfur. Humanitarian organizations regularly reported encountering challenges in their humanitarian action and protection activities owing to access restrictions, interference with program administration and implementation by authorities, and the negative effects of continuing hostilities and incidents of violence and intimidation.

There were several reports of government forces, and armed militias and individuals, raiding IDP camps. On April 18, IDPs at the North camp, Central Darfur, reported that authorities had instructed them not to release any information to UNAMID. Moreover, the government did not allow civil society groups operating health-care centers to deal with cases involving conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, especially in Central Darfur.

Largely unregulated artisanal gold-mining activities continued to expand in all of the Darfur states and to be a source of tension between communities. Claims to land rights continued to be mostly ethnic and tribal in nature. Clashes sometimes resulted from conflicts over land rights, mineral ownership, and use of gold-mining areas, particularly in the Jebel Amer area in North Darfur. Observers believed those clashes resulted in significant numbers of deaths and displacement.

Although the government made public statements encouraging the return of IDPs to their homes and the closure of camps in Darfur since “peace” had come to Darfur, IDPs expressed reluctance to return due to lack of security and justice in their areas of origin or elsewhere.

In the Two Areas there continued to be reports that SAF air raids destroyed homes, schools, churches, mosques, other civilian structures, and farms, and that humanitarian aid workers and centers, including hospitals, were targeted (see section 1.g.).

Restrictions imposed by the government in Abyei on NGOs limited the implementation capacity of humanitarian and development actors, especially in the northern parts of Abyei. Additional problems included inadequate funds, high implementation costs owing to security and logistical constraints, delays in the issuance of travel permits, and government restrictions on the movement of personnel and supplies.

The United Nations reported that during the year it received two allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by a civilian and by a UN volunteer deployed to UNISFA. One incident allegedly took place in 2015; the date of the other alleged incident was unknown. Because the allegations were against a UN civilian staff member and volunteer, the United Nations did not provide the nationalities of the accused. Both allegations were being investigated by the United Nations at year’s end.

UNISFA regularly conducted sensitization and awareness raising activities with staff members of all components. UN personnel carried out similar campaigns with the local population during which they highlighted and explained the UN policy on zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.

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