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Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Interim National Constitution provides for freedom of thought, expression, and of the press “as regulated by law,” but the government heavily restricted these rights.

Freedom of Speech and Expression: Individuals who criticized the government publicly or privately were subject to reprisal, including arrest. The government attempted to impede such criticism and monitored political meetings and the press. In July the government arrested Imam Yousif Abdullah Abaker following an Eid al-Fitr sermon in Aljenina in West Darfur, during which he criticized the central and state governments and blamed them for deaths in Darfur and throughout the country. He was reportedly transferred to Khartoum and sentenced to nine months in prison.

In March, NISS summoned and interrogated Rokaya al-Zaki, a journalist at al-Ray al-Aam newspaper, after publication of a financial corruption article relating to the Workers’ Union. NISS confiscated the independent daily al-Jarida’s press runs for unknown reasons on May 9, 10, 12, 13, and 16. In addition, journalists reported that security officers interrogated and harassed them. In November there were almost daily suspensions or confiscations of newspapers and radio stations by NISS for reporting on the nationwide civil disobedience that took place November 27 to 29 following the announcement of new austerity measures. Similarly, NISS seized newspapers on an almost daily basis throughout December, amid calls for large-scale protests. For example, NISS seized copies of daily al-Tayyar at least five times in December.

Throughout the year, more than 16 journalists were arrested, nine were subjected to legal actions against them by the government, at least 14 were summoned by NISS, and more than seven were suspended at some point. Throughout the year NISS detained more than 41 opposition party members, in some cases following meetings or symposiums during which attendees discussed politics.

The government also curtailed public discussion of a religious nature if proselytization was suspected and monitored religious sermons and teachings (see the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at

Press and Media Freedoms: The Interim National Constitution provides for freedom of the press, but authorities prevented newspapers from reporting on problems deemed sensitive. In December 2015 President Bashir 2015 criticized his government’s inability to “control the media” in an address to the ruling NCP parliamentary caucus. He warned that he personally would take “decisive measures.” Those measures included regular and direct prepublication censorship, confiscation of publications, legal proceedings, and denial of state advertising. Confiscation in particular inflicted financial damage on newspapers already under financial strain due to low circulation. The government verbally ordered newspapers throughout the year about “red line” topics on which the press could not report. Such topics included corruption, university protests, the national dialogue, political negotiations in Addis Ababa, the conflict in South Sudan, the doctors’ nationwide strike, the weak economy and declining value of the Sudanese pound, power outages, outbreak of cholera, the security services, and government action in conflict areas. Authorities ordered the confiscation of newspapers that reported on these topics.

The government influenced radio and television reporting through the granting or denial of permits, as well as offering or withholding government payments for advertisements, based on how closely affiliated they were with the government.

On November 27, authorities issued a cease-and-desist order, closing indefinitely the privately owned satellite television channel Omdurman TV, which until then had seemed to be progovernment. According to its owner, the move likely came after a talk show the station aired in which ruling NCP party members discussed corruption as one of the possible factors in the country’s continuing budget crisis. The government, however, claimed that the channel’s license had expired.

The government controlled the media through the National Council for Press and Publications (NCPP), which administered mandatory professional examinations for journalists and oversaw the selection of editors. The NCPP had authority to ban journalists temporarily or indefinitely. In November the NCPP estimated there were 4,000 registered journalists in the country, a significant decrease from 7,000 in 2015. The council stated that registration of journalists was now handled primarily by the Sudanese Journalists Union, which may have more journalists on file with their organization. Of the 4,000 registered journalists in the country, approximately 600 were actively employed.

During the year authorities lifted restrictions on one journalist who had been temporarily banned from writing. As of December 2015, seven other journalists remained banned from writing, including four journalists for al-Jarida newspaper. As of November NISS had banned at least 16 journalists from publishing articles or suspended their newspapers from publishing.

Violence and Harassment: The government, including NISS, continued to arrest, harass, intimidate, and abuse journalists and vocal critics of the government. NISS required journalists to provide personal information, such as details on their tribe, political affiliation, and family.

According to Journalists for Human Rights, in early November NISS beat and arrested Mohamed al-Amin Abdel-Aziz, a journalist collaborator of al-Jarida newspaper. Also in early November, NISS allegedly beat and detained journalist Amal Habani after she left the premises of a courtroom in Khartoum where she attended the trial of several civil society activists. In December, NISS agents also arrested and allegedly beat a number of journalists, amid calls for large-scale protests against the lifting of fuel subsidies.

In late December 2015, lawyers referred to the Constitutional Court the case of Osman Mirghani, editor and chief of al-Tayar newspaper, who was attacked by unknown assailants in 2014 and whose newspaper’s publication had been suspended as of December 2015. Some human rights advocates suspected the government instructed the court to delay its ruling. On May 1, the Constitutional Court issued an order allowing al-Tayar to resume publishing after more than four months of “indefinite suspension” by NISS (without compensation) and following a hunger strike/protest by the staff of the newspaper, in which other journalists and activists also participated. After its reopening, NISS continued to intimidate and harass al-Tayar, and confiscated print runs of the daily on a regular basis.

On July 27, al-Tagheer newspaper suspended its own publishing indefinitely following multiple consecutive confiscations.

On September 14, the Press and Publications Council ordered suspension of four newspapers (Ilafal-Mostagilal-Watan, and Awal al-Nahar).

In January 2015 the Ministry of Culture revoked the Sudanese Writers Union’s registration. The union had been registered since 2006 to hold intellectual forums, cultural nights, movie screenings, and other activities. The union filed a case against the Ministry of Culture. In October 2015 a judge ruled in favor of the union, disallowing justifications used by the ministry to close the group. In late 2015, however, the court reversed its judgment. The group was reportedly able to reregister on December 1.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: The government continued to practice direct prepublication and prebroadcast censorship of all forms of media. The government increased confiscations during the May aftermath of April protests by students that were sparked by reports of the government’s alleged sale of the University of Khartoum to foreign investors. During the protests two students were killed, many were injured, and many were arrested. Confiscations of print runs was the censorship method most frequently used by NISS, having utility in terms of censoring material, incentivizing future self-censorship, and causing high financial losses to the publisher that could lead to the newspaper’s eventual closure.

In 2014 the government announced it would suspend exceptional measures, including prepublication censorship, imposed by NISS on print media; however, such censorship continued unabated. According to the National Council for Press and Publications, in November 2015 a court specializing in media issues and “newspaper irregularities” was established under the existing Press and Publications Act. By August the Press and Publications Court was functional.

The government confiscated print runs of at least 12 newspapers on at least 49 occasions between March and November, mostly in May, following the widespread April student protests and in November following nationwide civil disobedience strikes and protests in response to government austerity measures. For example, in one week from November 25 to December 2, NISS confiscated 16 print runs of nine newspapers.

On November 30, the Sudan Journalist Network organized a one-day strike to protest the confiscations of print runs of five dailies (al-Tayaral-Watanal-Jaridaal-Yom al-Taali, and al-Ayaam) for four days in a row, from November 28 to December 1. Local journalists suspected the seizures were for publishing articles critical of the subsidy cuts made by the government on November 3. More than 100 independent journalists participated in the strike.

National Security: The Press and Publications Act allows for restrictions on the press in the interest of national security and public order. It contains loosely defined provisions for bans for encouraging ethnic and religious disturbances and incitement of violence. The act holds editors in chief criminally liable for all content published in their newspapers. The criminal code, National Security Act, and emergency laws were regularly used to bring charges against the press.

NISS initiated and continued legal action against journalists for stories critical of the government and security services.

In February, Ibrahim Baggal, a digital journalist and online activist, was arrested for criticizing the governor of North Darfur in a Facebook post and charged under the Information Technology (IT) Crime Act. Baggal spent 55 days in detention before his release on bail, but he was reportedly detained again days later and held for another week, for seemingly arbitrary reasons. The public prosecutor later dropped some of the charges against Baggal, namely undermining the constitutional order, waging war against the state, and contempt for authority; however, Baggal still faced charges of spreading false information, disclosing military information, and breaching public safety.

In Khartoum the state health minister also took legal action against al-Watan after the newspaper accused the minister of misappropriating public funds to enhance al-Zaitona Hospital, one of three hospitals privately owned by the state health minister.


The government regulated licensing of telecommunications companies through the National Telecommunications Corporation. The agency blocked some websites and most proxy servers judged offensive to public morality, such as those purveying pornography. There were few restrictions on access to information websites, but authorities sporadically blocked access to YouTube and “negative” media sites. According to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 27 percent of individuals used the internet in 2015, an increase from 25 percent in 2014.

Reporters without Borders reported NISS established a cyber-jihadist unit with a mandate to crack down on “internet dissidents” in 2011. According to outside reports, the unit continued to monitor social media accounts and electronic communications, especially of those believed to be regime critics.

Freedom House continued to rank the country as “not free” in its annual internet freedom report. According to the report, arrests and prosecutions under the IT Crime Act grew during the year, reflecting a tactical shift in the government’s strategy to limit internet freedom. The report noted that many journalists writing for online platforms published anonymously to avoid prosecution, while ordinary internet users in the country had become more inclined to self-censor to avoid government surveillance and arbitrary legal consequences.

In November 2015, for example, Seraj al-Naeem, the founder of the online news outlet Awtar al-Aseel, was arrested and charged with libel under the IT Crime Act for sending a WhatsApp message that accused a doctor of medical malpractice. Al-Naeem was detained for hours and released on bail, but not before he was asked to surrender his smartphone to the police as evidence. Al-Naeem was subsequently charged for inquiring about the legality of surrendering his phone. He was acquitted of all charges in May.

In November an activist was broadcasting live on Facebook, showing empty streets in downtown Khartoum as evidence of a successful civil disobedience campaign when security services confronted and detained him for several days.

In January the administrator of a WhatsApp group for journalists was charged with libel under the IT Crime Act for a message that criticized the minister of health. He was detained and questioned for several hours along with the individual who sent the original message; both were subsequently released on bail and as of October still awaiting trial.

Cybercafes lacked privacy and were subject to intrusive government surveillance. In February, NISS and Ministry of Interior special cybercrime units raided 130 internet cafes in Khartoum in search of content threatening “public morals.”


The government restricted academic freedom at cultural and academic institutions. It determined the curriculums and appointed the vice chancellors responsible for administration. It continued to arrest student activists and cancel or deny permits for some student events. Youth activists reported some universities discouraged students from participating in antigovernment rallies and showed favorable treatment towards NCP students. Some professors exercised self-censorship. Security forces used tear gas and other heavy-handed tactics against largely peaceful protests at universities or involving university students. The Public Order Police continued to monitor public gatherings and cultural events, often intimidating women and girls, who feared police would arrest them for “indecent” dress or actions.

Following widespread unrest on college campuses across the country in April, many universities indefinitely suspended student activities (political, cultural, and social) on university premises and required approval before events could be held.

On April 30, NISS prevented the Sudanese Journalists’ Network from holding a conference in Khartoum and provided no explanation. On September 13, NISS prevented the Sudanese Congress Party from holding a public event commemorating the third anniversary of the September 2013 protests, during which 185 to 200 protesters were killed.


Although the Interim National Constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly, the government severely restricted this right. The criminal code considers gatherings of more than five persons without a permit to be illegal. Organizers must notify the government 36 hours prior to assemblies and rallies.

In February, NISS dispersed a peaceful protest against the construction of new dams in Northern State, arrested a number of protesters, and later released them.

In April NISS arrested 27 students, including five female students, who were involved in protests at the University of Khartoum. The students protested April 11 to 14, following reports the government planned to sell the main campus to foreign investors. NISS released the 27 students without charge on April 16. An additional University of Khartoum student arrested separately but in conjunction with the protests, Asim Omer, remained detained and was charged after three months with the murder of a police officer, a capital offense, during campus protests. Human rights observers and classmates of Omer insisted the charges were based on falsified evidence, asserting the student was not present during the campus protests. As of year’s end, trials of the students continued.

On November 20, NISS arrested without charge 28 college students who demonstrated on Africa Road against the government’s austerity measures (fuel subsidy cuts) and subsequent price increases. The judge released all 28 students on bail November 21, and the students faced trials on November 22 and 23. On December 4, cases of all 28 students were dismissed. The arrests of the students were concurrent with a large-scale NISS arrest campaign, during which NISS detained 22 leading figures from the Sudan Congress Party (see section 1.e.) and several members of the National Unionist Party (NUP), Sudanese Communist Party, Arab Ba’ath Party, National Consensus Forces, and the Reform Now Movement, as well as civil society activists and journalists.

The government continued to deny permission to Islamic orders associated with opposition political parties, particularly the Ansar (Umma Party) and Khatmiya (Democratic Unionist Party), to hold large gatherings in public spaces, but parties regularly held opposition rallies on private property. Government security agents occasionally attended opposition meetings, disrupted opposition rallies, or summoned participants to security headquarters for questioning after meetings.

Authorities reportedly took only limited, if any, action against security force members who used excessive force. In November 2015 media reported the Ministry of Justice agreed to pay diya (blood money) totaling 35 million SDG ($5.3 million) in compensation to families of identified victims of the September 2013 protests and lift the immunity of four security officers. As of year’s end, cases against the security officers remained pending (see section 1.a.).


The Interim National Constitution and law provide for freedom of association, but the government severely restricted this right. The law prohibits political parties linked to armed opposition groups. The government closed civil society organizations or refused to register them on several occasions. Government and security forces continued arbitrarily to enforce provisions of the NGO law, including measures that strictly regulate an organization’s ability to receive foreign financing and register public activities.

Throughout the year, according to the Sudanese Confederation of Civil Society, authorities either rejected or failed to approve applications to reregister more than 40 registered organizations and began investigations into their activities.

Under the government’s “Sudanization” policy, many organizations reported they faced administrative difficulties if they refused to have progovernment groups implement their programs at the state level. In Blue Nile, for example, HAC authorities prevented one humanitarian organization from implementing a food security program for several months until it agreed to collaborate with CORD, a local organization selected by the state government.

Organizations reported delays in obtaining permits to hold general assembly meetings. In the absence of general assemblies, the government prevented some organizations from holding elections or filling vacant positions. Some civil society activists believed the government delayed these approvals to disrupt the organizations’ work or force them out of compliance with government regulations.

On February 29, NISS officers raided the Khartoum Center for Training and Human Development (TRACKS), a civil society capacity-building organization, for the second time in less than a year. The officers confiscated five laptops and nine telephones belonging to staff, trainees, and visitors. They collected documents, publications, flip charts, passports, and car keys belonging to the TRACKS directors, Khalaf-Allah al-Afif Muktar and Midhat Afifaddin Hamadan. Before departing the officers returned the equipment belonging to trainees and allowed them to leave. They also instructed Midhat, as well as Abuhrira Abdelrahman, another TRACKS staff member, and Adam Finun, an artist who happened to be visiting TRACKS at the time, to report to NISS headquarters in central Khartoum on March 3 before they were later released. In March NISS agents detained Director Khalafalla, Office Supervisor al-Shazali Ibrahim al-Sheikh, and Mustafa Adam, director of sister organization al-Zarqaa who was visiting TRACKS, and interrogated them separately before releasing them in intervals. One detainee who suffered from diabetes was deprived of food during his daylong detention.

Between March 3 and 13, NISS summoned and interrogated multiple activists associated with TRACKS, questioning all about their activities and relationship with the al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development, an organization forcibly shut down by the government in 2012. Multiple activists were arrested and released in association with TRACKS through May.

On May 21, NISS arrested Khalaf-Allah al-Afif Muktar, Mustafa Adam and Midhat Afifaddin Hamadan from their homes and held them in cells with reported dimensions of 13 feet by 13 feet, which held over 26 prisoners, and had no ventilation. Due to the harsh conditions, Khalafalla, who had a heart condition, fainted on August 14 after being refused medical care three weeks previously. On August 15, the three detainees were transferred to al-Huda Prison in Omdurman North to face capital charges, including Article 50 (Undermining the Constitutional System), Article 51 (Waging War against the State), Article 53 (Espionage), and Article 65 (Criminal and Terrorist Organizations). In addition to these charges, Mustafa Adam and Midhat Afifaddin Hamadan faced charges related to the Information Crimes Law.

Three additional TRACKS associates, Arwa al-Rabie, Imany-Leila Ray, and al-Hassan Kheiry, who were arrested and released on bail after 10 days of detention in May, faced the same four charges as above. As of year’s end, trials continued for all six individuals related to the TRACKS raid on February 29, three of whom were still in custody.

On May 5, a group of armed NISS officers raided the offices of prominent human rights lawyer Nabil Adeeb in Khartoum. At the time of the raid, Nabil Adeeb, chairperson of the Khartoum-based Sudanese Human Rights Monitor, was meeting with a group of students, some of whom had recently been dismissed or suspended from the University of Khartoum following the April protests. NISS arrested 10 students at the office, together with two lawyers and two female employees.

During the armed raid, NISS officers seized legal files and equipment, including Adeeb’s personal laptop, without a warrant. With the exception of Adeeb’s cell phone, none of his property was returned.

Two National Umma Party (NUP) members, brothers Emad and Erwa al-Siddiq, were arrested and detained by NISS on December 14, 2015 and January 6 respectively. NISS charged the brothers with capital crimes and other charges, including undermining the constitution, warring against the state, affiliation with terrorist organizations, defamation, and criminal plotting. The charges were prompted by the brothers posting statements online critical of NISS, to include GPS coordinates of reported “ghost-houses” where NISS agents reportedly detained and physically abused human rights activists. Observers believed NISS sought to make an example of the case to discourage subversive political activities from both the Umma Party and the broader opposition. Emad al-Siddiq was convicted on September 5 and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, which he had already served. As such, he was released the day of the ruling and fined 10,000 SDG ($1,500). Erwa al-Siddiq was also convicted and sentenced to one year in prison; he was released in September. Erwa was also fined 20,000 SDG ($3,000).

In November and December, authorities arrested the entire senior leadership of the Sudan Congress Party, and detained them without charges and, with one exception, without visitation. NISS released the opposition members in late December with no charges.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at

The Interim National Constitution and law provide for freedom of movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, but the government restricted these rights for foreigners, including humanitarian workers.

The government impeded the work of UN agencies and delayed full approval of their activities throughout the country, particularly in the Two Areas. NGOs also alleged the government impeded humanitarian assistance in the Two Areas.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Asylum seekers and refugees were vulnerable to arbitrary arrest and harassment outside of camps because they did not receive identification cards while awaiting government determination of refugee or asylum status. Refugees and asylum seekers in urban areas were also subject to arrest because the government’s encampment policy makes it illegal to move from assigned camps without authorization. On average 150-200 refugees and asylum seekers were detained in Khartoum each month and assisted with legal aid by the joint UNHCR and commissioner for refugees legal team. Although the Asylum Act makes naturalization possible for refugees, it was not fully implemented.

There were some reported abuses, including gender-based violence, in the camps. The government worked closely with UNHCR to provide greater protection to refugees. There were government impediments relating to access to refugees, including delay or denial of travel permits and visa approvals.

According to human rights advocates, the delay in granting legal status was partly the reason some new refugees left the camps before registering with UNHCR. Refugees often relied on human trafficking and smuggling networks to leave camps. Traffickers routinely abused and tortured refugees if ransoms were not paid.

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at

In-country Movement: The government and rebels restricted the movement of citizens as well as UN and humanitarian organization personnel in conflict areas (see section 1.g.). While the government claimed refugees had freedom of movement within the country, it required they formally register and be granted travel permits before leaving refugee camps. According to authorities, registration of refugees helped provide their personal security. Refugees faced administrative fines once they returned to their camp, if they left camps without permission and were intercepted by authorities.

Internal movement was generally unhindered for citizens outside conflict areas. Foreigners needed travel permits for domestic travel outside Khartoum, which were often difficult to obtain. Foreigners were required to register with the Ministry of Interior’s Alien Control Division within three days of arrival and were limited to a 15.5-mile radius from Khartoum. Once registered, foreigners were allowed to move beyond this radius, but travel outside of Khartoum State required official approval.

The government delayed issuing humanitarian visas to UN and NGO staff and generally denied access to conflict areas, with some exceptions made for Darfur IDP camps. The government also delayed issuing travel permits to nonconflict areas.

The country maintained a reservation on Article 26 of the UN Convention on Refugees of 1951 regarding refugees’ right to move freely and choose their place of residence within a country. The government’s encampment policy requires asylum seekers and refugees to stay in designated camps. The government allowed for the establishment of two camps for South Sudanese refugees in East Darfur. The government increasingly referred to “holding sites” in White Nile as refugee camps.

Foreign Travel: The government requires citizens to obtain an exit visa if they wish to depart the country. Issuance was usually without complication, but the government continued to use the visa requirement to restrict some citizens’ travel, especially persons of political or security interest. To obtain an exit visa, children must receive the permission of both parents.

In March, five civil society representatives (Faisal Mohamed Salih, Siddig Yousif, Muawia Shaddad, Sawasan Alshoaya, and Salih Mahmoud) were stopped by plainclothes security officials at Khartoum International Airport traveling to Geneva, where they were to participate in UN presession meetings of the universal periodic review (UPR) for Sudan. Their passports were confiscated, and they were told to report to NISS headquarters for further information to reclaim them, thereby preventing them from attending the Geneva meetings.

On November 19, NISS agents again prevented Siddig Yousif of the Solidarity Committee from traveling to Geneva to participate in civil society/political meetings. According to Yousif, this incident was the fifth time within two years that NISS imposed a travel ban on him.

Exile: The government observed the law prohibiting forced exile. It warned political opponents of their potential arrest, however, if they returned. Opposition leaders and NGO activists remained in self-imposed exile in northern Africa and Europe; other activists fled the country during the year. In September 2015 a presidential decree granted general amnesty for opposition members and rebel leaders living abroad who agreed to return to Sudan to participate in the national dialogue. As of year’s end, prominent opposition members had not returned to the country under the amnesty, some expressing concern about their civic and political rights even with the amnesty (see section 1.d.).


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.

According to the United Nations and partners, during the first 11 months of the year, an estimated 97,500 persons were reported newly displaced across Darfur. Up to an additional 88,775 persons were also reported displaced, but the United Nations reported its inability to verify these figures due to lack of access to the relevant locations. In addition, approximately 38,150 persons reportedly returned, of which 25,564 (in Golo) were verified by the WFP. UN OCHA reported the vast majority of the displacement during the year was triggered by the conflict in the Jebel Marra area, which ignited in January. The United Nations and partners reported during the year through December, 3,026 individuals were newly displaced in Southern and Western Kordofan and Blue Nile, although the number was largely unknown due to lack of access to those areas. Other reports placed the number of displaced at 12,468. Many IDPs faced chronic food shortages and inadequate medical care. Significant numbers of farmers were prevented from planting their fields due to the conflict, leading to near-famine conditions in parts of Southern Kordofan. The government and the SPLM-N continued to deny access to humanitarian actors and UN agencies in areas controlled by the SPLM-N; these areas contained approximately 800,000 of the IDPs and severely affected persons in 2015. UN agencies could provide no estimates citing lack of access as a hindrance.

Government restrictions, harassment, and the threat of expulsion resulted in continued interruption of gender-based violence programming. Reporting and outreach were limited (see section 5). Some UN agencies were able to work with the Darfur governor’s advisers on women and children to raise awareness of gender-based violence and response efforts.

There were numerous reports of abuse committed by government security forces, rebels, and armed groups against IDPs in Darfur, including rapes and beatings (see section 1.g.).

Outside IDP camps and towns, insecurity restricted freedom of movement, and women and girls who left the towns and camps risked sexual violence. Insecurity within IDP camps also was a problem. The government provided little assistance or protection to IDPs in Darfur. Most IDP camps had no functioning police force. International observers noted criminal gangs aligned with rebel groups operated openly in several IDP camps.

As in previous years, the government did not establish formal IDP or refugee camps in Khartoum or the Two Areas, and UNHCR did not make any formal requests to establish such new camps during the year.

The United Nations did not have a presence in SPLM-N-controlled areas and was unable to assess the scope of civilian displacement in the area.


As of November UNHCR reported approximately 403,000 refugees and asylum seekers in the country, including 106,000 Eritreans, 15,000 Ethiopians, and 8,000 Chadians. Unlike in previous years, Chadian population numbers considered only those in camps, and not those spontaneously settled along the border and among the population. As of November more than 262,000 South Sudanese had arrived in the country since fighting erupted in December 2013, including a new influx in East Darfur.

New Eritrean refugees entering eastern Sudan often stayed in camps for two to three months before moving to Khartoum, other parts of the country, or on to Libya in an effort to reach Europe. The government continued to restrict access in eastern Sudan for international humanitarian NGOs, as it did throughout the country.

According to UNHCR, the government hosted approximately 67,000 refugees in Khartoum as of October.

From January to June, an estimated 7,500 persons fled Southern Kordofan to become refugees in South Sudan, nearly 3,000 of whom arrived in May alone. Nearly 90 percent were women and children, with one child in 10 arriving alone or without a family member.

As of November UNHCR estimated 350,000 persons of South Sudanese origin remained in the country following South Sudan’s independence in 2011. Approximately 250,000 of them lived in Khartoum, many integrated into the urban population. An estimated 40,000 lived in shantytowns, informal settlements known as “open areas” until August. The government did not officially recognize this population as refugees or IDPs and restricted access to these areas by humanitarian organizations. Many open areas lacked basic services such as water, electricity, and sewage systems. In August authorities relocated more than 6,000 South Sudanese from three open areas in Ombeda locality to a new site in Nivasha. UNHCR, which was not informed in advance about the relocation, expressed concern over how the relocation was carried out. Access to basic services in the new site remained limited.

UNHCR reported 40,000 persons of South Sudanese origin who had remained in the country following South Sudan’s independence had obtained nationality documents from the South Sudan Consulate in Khartoum as of December. The governments of Sudan and South Sudan signed a framework agreement (known as the “four freedoms” agreement) as part of a broader bilateral agreement in 2012 which provides for citizens of both states to enjoy freedom of residence, movement, economic activity, and property ownership, but it was not fully implemented during the year.

The government did not recognize individuals fleeing from South Sudan as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention but essentially treated them as such under the Arab/Islamic regime of asylum following December 2013 fighting in South Sudan, and it allowed some national and international organizations to assist them. In 2014 UNHCR and the Ministry of Interior’s Commission for Refugees and Directorate General of Passports and Immigration signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the registration and documentation of approximately 500,000 South Sudanese in Sudan, including those that fled the conflict in South Sudan in December 2013.

On March 17, the government directed that South Sudanese were to be treated as foreigners. In April UNHCR reported on the arrests of 189 South Sudanese refugees mostly around the Alsog al-Markazee area in Khartoum for alleged lack of documentation or nonrecognition of the documents issued by the Department of Passports and Immigration Police. The individuals incurred fines of approximately 1,112 SDG ($167). The government released approximately 300 South Sudanese following intervention by UNHCR, but many remained in detention, per UNHCR reports. UNHCR successfully challenged convictions based on nonrecognition of the Immigration Police-issued documents before the Fourth Circuit of the Supreme Court.

On September 1, UNHCR and the Office of the Commission for Refugees signed a MOU designed to regulate how the two entities would manage South Sudanese refugees. UNHCR noted that although the government desired to distinguish among South Sudanese refugees based on refugees’ date of arrival in the country, the agreement itself contains no such distinctions. In December the government allegedly confirmed the content of the MOU, lifting the previous position of a cut-off date based on arrival in the country.

Access to Asylum: The government generally provided first asylum/temporary protection to individuals who might not qualify as refugees. In 2014 the government adopted asylum legislation that provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status and requires asylum applications to be nominally submitted within 30 days of arrival in the country. This time stipulation was not strictly enforced. The government granted asylum to many asylum seekers, particularly from Eritrea, Syria, Somalia, and Ethiopia, but it sometimes considered individuals registered as asylum seekers or refugees in another country, mostly in Ethiopia, to be irregular movers or migrants. Government officials routinely took up to three months to approve individual refugee and asylum status, but they worked with UNHCR to implement status determination procedures in eastern Sudan and Darfur and attempted to reduce the case backlog. The law requires asylum seekers to register both as refugees with the Commission for Refugees and as foreigners with the Civil Registry (to obtain a “foreign” number).

In August security officials told reporters that 816 African migrants (and Sudanese intending to emigrate) and a group of smugglers were arrested near the country’s border with Libya between June and August. The officials said the migrants were attempting to cross into Libya with plans to proceed to Europe. Among those arrested were 347 Eritreans, 130 Ethiopians, and 90 Sudanese; the remainder were mostly Somalis. Foreign individuals were charged, convicted, and deported to their countries of origin. The status of the Sudanese who were apprehended was unknown. Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, more than 40,000 Syrians have arrived in Sudan, according to government sources, of whom 6,990 have been registered with UNHCR. The government did not require visas or residency permits for Syrians out of Arab solidarity. The Sudanese Commission for Refugees, however, restarted registration of Syrian nationals in November 2015 to better account for their number and needs.

The government waives regular entry visa requirements for Yemenis. As of November, more than 1,600 Yemeni refugees had registered in Sudan.

Refoulement: The country is a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and generally respected the international principle of nonrefoulement with a few notable exceptions. According to UNHCR incidents of refoulement decreased significantly during the year. In early May authorities arrested 377 individuals in Dongola, Northern State, as they attempted to cross the country’s northwest border into Libya. The group included 313 Eritreans and 64 Ethiopians. Six were already registered refugees within Sudan. All faced charges of illegal entry and were tried in court. On May 22, the authorities deported all Ethiopian refugees and Eritrean refugees, which included 14 children.

In February 2015 authorities in the east disclosed they followed a practice of returning “recyclers”–Eritrean asylum seekers presumed to be previously registered as refugees in Ethiopia.

With UNHCR’s intervention, authorities were trained on referral procedures to prevent refoulement, including of refugees who previously registered in other countries.

Employment: The government in principle allows refugees to work informally but rarely granted work permits (even to refugees who have obtained higher degrees in the country). In 2015 and during the year, UNHCR signed a project partnership agreement with the Commission for Refugees to issue over 1,000 work permits to selected refugees for a livelihood graduation program implemented in Kassala and Gadaref. In 2015 some refugee beneficiaries were selected, but the issuance of permits was still pending at year’s end.

Some refugees in eastern states were able to find informal work as agricultural workers or laborers in towns. Many women in camps reportedly resorted to illegal production of alcohol and were subjected to arrest and harassment by police. In urban centers the majority of refugees worked in the informal sector (for example, as tea sellers, house cleaners, and drivers), leaving them at heightened risk of arrest, exploitation, and abuse.

Temporary Protection: The government generally maintained an open border with South Sudan. The government position on the status of South Sudanese in Sudan, however, changed on multiple occasions based on improvements or contentious points in the Sudan-South Sudan relationship. Before signing a September MOU with UNHCR, which officially recognized South Sudanese in Sudan as refugees, there were statements by the government both that South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict in their country would enjoy the same status as Sudanese citizens, and that they would be treated as foreigners when relations encountered setbacks. As of November, UNHCR estimated 263,425 individuals had crossed into the country from South Sudan since December 2013, with more than 110,000 refugees having arrived since January. The majority sought refuge in White Nile State.

Since December 2013 more than approximately 35,000 South Sudanese also traveled to Khartoum.


The 1994 Nationality Act was amended in 2005 not only to apply to child with a father of Sudanese decent but also to allow a child born to a Sudanese mother to acquire Sudanese nationality by birth by following an application process. The Interim Sudanese Constitution, however, provides “every person born to a Sudanese mother or father shall have an inalienable right to enjoy Sudanese nationality and citizenship.” After the creation of the independent State of South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan amended its nationality law in 2011 but has yet to amend the relevant sections of the 1994 Act. The Interim Sudanese Constitution remains in force until Sudan adopts a permanent constitution.

Persons of South Sudanese origin who lived for many years in the Republic of Sudan were stripped of their Sudanese nationality by law, irrespective of the strength of their connections to the new state of South Sudan or Sudan and their views on which state to which they wished to belong. Other populations who risked being adversely affected included individuals with one parent from Sudan and one from South Sudan; members of cross-border ethnic groups; and persons separated from their families by war, including unaccompanied children.

Some persons of South Sudanese origin living in Sudan risked ending up stateless, without either a Sudanese or South Sudanese nationality, and losing their basic rights.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future