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Sudan: fear of torture / possible prisoners of conscience

, N° d'index: AFR 54/005/1996

The above are reported to have been arrested in the first week of February 1996. The men have a history of trade union and political activism and are being held without charge or trial in an unknown location. AI believes that they may be prisoners of conscience.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 54/05/96
UA 43/96 Fear of Torture / Possible Prisoners of Conscience
22 February 1996
SUDANal-Sir Mekki Abu Zeid, former teacher
Hassabu Ibrahim, farmer and trade unionist
Walid Abu Seif, businessman
Ahmad al-Tom
Security officers in Sudan's capital Khartoum are reported to have arrested
the four men named above in the first week of February 1996. The men have a
history of trade union and political activism and are reported to be members
of the Alliance of National Democratic Forces, a broad left-wing group
originally formed by former members of the Sudan Communist Party. The men,
who are being held in detention without charge or trial in an unknown location,
are reported to be suspected by the authorities of being actively involved
in opposition political activities. Amnesty International believes that they
may be prisoners of conscience, arrested for their non-violent political
opposition to the government, and fears that they are at risk of torture or
ill-treatment.
BACKGROUND
Political prisoners are held in Sudan on the basis of Constitutional Decree
Two of 30 June 1989 which establishes a State of Emergency. The decree bans
"the showing of political opposition by any means to the regime of the Revolution
for National Salvation".
The Sudan Government has announced that there will be presidential and
parliamentary elections in March 1996. Forty-eight men are reported to have
registered as presidential candidates. However, political parties remain banned
and leading members of the political opposition have declared that they will
not participate in the polls.
Anyone detained by the Sudanese security authorities is at risk of
ill-treatment, in particular those held in secret detention centres known as
"ghost houses". Those whom the authorities suspect may have information about
opposition activities are at particular risk of torture. In March 1995 one
of the most notorious "ghost houses" was partially closed and its inmates
transferred to a section of the main prison in Khartoum, still under the
supervision of the security authorities but reportedly in better conditions.
However, it is known that other "ghost houses" still exist.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/express/airmail letters in
English, Arabic or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the detention without charge or trial in early February
1996 of al-Sir Mekki Abu Zeid, Hassabu Ibrahim, Walid Abu Seif and Ahmad al-Tom,
whom Amnesty International believes may be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned
on account of their non-violent opposition to government policies;
- seeking assurances that they are not being subjected to torture or
ill-treatment and urging that their whereabouts in custody be made public and
that they are granted immediate and regular access to their families, legal
counsel and any necessary medical attention;
- urging that they be released immediately unless they are to be charged with
a recognizable criminal offence and brought promptly to a fair trial.
2
APPEALS TO:
1) His Excellency Lieutenant-General
Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of the Sudan
People's Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Lt Gen Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Khartoum, Sudan
Telexes: 22411 KAID SD
Salutation: Your Excellency
2) Brigadier Bakri Hassan Saleh
Minister of the Interior
People's Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Minister of the Interior Bakri Hassan Saleh,
Khartoum, Sudan
Telexes: 22842 WZARA SD or 22604 IPOL SD
Salutation: Dear Minister
3) Mr Ali Osman Mohamed Taha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Khartoum, Sudan
Telexes: 22461 KHRJA SD
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Mr 'Abd al-Aziz Shiddo
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General
Ministry of Justice, Khartoum, Sudan
Mr Obeid Haj Ali
Chief Justice
Law Courts
Khartoum, Sudan
Mr Angelo Beda Bambara
Chairman of the Human Rights Committee
of the Transitional National Assembly (TNA)*
Omdurman, Sudan
and to diplomatic representatives of Sudan accredited to your country.
* The TNA's Human Rights Committee was created by Sudan's government-appointed
Transitional National Assembly in December 1992, apparently to counter what
the government perceives as hostile human rights propaganda. The Committee's
Chairman has said that it investigates reports of human rights violations.
However, Amnesty International has received no information which suggests that
this takes place in an effective or systematic manner.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 4 April 1996.

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