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The Disappearance of Human Rights Defenders in Khartoum

24.03.14

Enforced Disappearance of Human Rights Defenders

Mr Mohamed Salah Mohamed and others

On 20 March 2014, human rights defender Mr Mohamed Salah Mohamed disappeared at Khartoum International Airport as he was travelling to a workshop in Tunisia. His family have not been provided with any information to his whereabouts, nor has he had access to legal counsel.

Mohamed Salah Mohamed is actively involved in the mobilisation of Sudanese citizens to demand human rights and democracy. The human rights defender had attended the funeral of Ali Akabar, a student protester who was killed during a demonstration on 11 March 2014. During the memorial he gave a speech in which he named National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officials who he claimed were directly responsible for the killing. According to sources, this is very likely to be the reason for his disappearance.

On 20 March 2014, Mohamed Salah Mohamed, for reasons of security, was accompanied by family and friends to the departures hall of Khartoum International Airport. They left the airport after receiving a message from his phone stating that he had boarded the aircraft. However, other individuals on the same flight later informed them that the human rights defender never boarded the plane. Later, the airline confirmed that he had never checked in. After spending four hours seeking information as to his whereabouts, Mohamed Salah Mohamed's family were informed by an unofficial source that he had been arrested before he checked in at the airport. According to the source, he was kept at the airport for some time and was then taken to an unknown location.

On the morning of 21 March 2014, members of Mohamed Salah Mohamed's family went to NISS headquarters in Khartoum to deliver clothes and personal items to the human rights defender, however they were told by a source in the political section that he was not in their custody and that they should “look for him elsewhere”. They were further advised to search in other NISS centres in Khartoum to obtain information regarding the human rights defender's whereabouts.

Since the events of 11 March 2014, Mohamed Salah Mohamed's family home in Khartoum has been monitored, with at least ten security guards spending the night in front of the house every night. On 15 March, the human rights defender's brother was kidnapped by plain-clothed NISS agent’s metres from their home. The agents took him to a deserted location of the Alshagara neighbourhood in Khartoum, and there assaulted and robbed him. He was told that this was a message for his brother, Mohamed Salah Mohamed, and that both brothers “should be careful from the consequences of their actions” [sic].

In June 2012, Mohamed Salah Mohamed was detained for two months by the NISS, during which time he was subjected to torture and allowed only one family visit. The human rights defender suffers from a kidney disease which deteriorated owing to this torture. There are now serious concerns for the human rights defender's physical and psychological integrity, given the precedent for torture in NISS detention centres and his health condition.

Front Line Defenders has issued an urgent appeal and subsequent update regarding the incommunicado detention of human rights defenders Messrs Gazi Alrayah Al-Sanhouri and Abdelmonem Adam, who were also detained by the NISS for their involvement in the above-mentioned protest. Neither human rights defender has thus far been granted access to their families or lawyers.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Sudanto:

1.Immediately and unconditionally release Mohamed Salah Mohamed and his colleagues as they have been detained solely as a result of their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;

2.Inform the family of Mohamed Salah Mohamed of his whereabouts, and allow them and his legal counsel immediate and unfettered access to him;

3.Ensure that the treatment of Mohamed Salah Mohamned while in detention conforms to all those conditions set out in the 'Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment' adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 adopted of 9 December 1988;

4.Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Sudan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Sources: Front line defenders 

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