Outcry as Sudan detains 30 female protesters

APA-Khartoum (Sudan)

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and FIDH say they are deeply concerned about the safety of 30 women detained without access to lawyers or family members by the Sudanese National Security Intelligence Services (NISS) in Omdurman women’s prison.

In a statement to APA, the freedom watchdogs say the detainees were targeted for their participation or suspected involvement in the ongoing protests calling for the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir.

“ACJPS and FIDH have gathered disturbing information about the detention conditions of these women, all of whom have been subjected to invasive strip searches, amounting to acts of sexual violence” their joint statement says.

The detainees include members of opposition political parties, human rights defenders, journalists, teachers and doctors.

Of the 30 women currently held at Omdurman, 18 were arrested during protests held between December 20, 2018 and February 2, 2019.

They were reportedly forced to climb NISS pickup trucks and to face downward so that they could not recognize where they were being taken.

The other detainees were arrested over the same period during NISS raids of their private residences and political party offices.

The oldest detainee is reportedly in her late 70s whilst the youngest is 24 years old.

The watchdogs claim at least one of the detained women is suffering from asthma.

“Sudanese authorities must preserve the safety of the 30 women detained in Omdurman prison and ensure they have immediate and unequivocal access to their family members, medical services and to lawyers of their own choosing. Those arbitrarily detained must be released and for those charged, authorities must ensure due process of law and a fair trial including the right to promptly access courts and to review the legality of their detention”, declared Mossaad Mohamed Ali, ACJPS Executive Director.

ACJPS and FIDH have received reliable information indicating that the 30 women were made to sit for hours while facing the wall as they waited for admission into the prison.

After having their phones confiscated and inspected, all of the women were subjected to body searches by NISS agents including in their private parts, amounting to acts of sexual violence, the statement adds.

They have not had access to sanitary towels, thus exposing them to risks of infection.

Many have been subjected to verbal abuse including calling them prostitutes.

At least eight women are obliged to share a single cell measuring approximately 5x5 meters.

NISS authorities have used detainees’ family members to pressure them to reveal information, it was also revealed.


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