Journalists Detained, Fears for Safety
PEN International is seriously concerned for the safety of Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, a Darfuri journalist working for the opposition newspaper Al-Sahafa, who was reportedly arrested on November 3, 2010, amid a wave of arrests of Darfuri media workers and activists. Ibrahim’s whereabouts are unknown and he is considered to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment. According to PEN’s information, another journalist, arrested on October 30, Radio Dabanga director Abdelrahman Adam Abdelrahman, has already been subjected to torture. PEN considers the journalists’ detention to be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and calls on the Sudanese authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally. In the meantime, it urges the authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the two journalists, and seeks assurances that they will not be ill-treated while in detention and that the allegations of torture against Abdelrahman will be investigated.
The following is an excerpt from an Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International on November 5, 2010:
On 3 November, Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, a Darfuri journalist working for the opposition newspaper Al Sahafa, was arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) from Al Sahafa's office in Khartoum. Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim’s arrest is part of a wave of arrests that began on 30 October, and has now targeted nine known Darfuri activists and journalists. He is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
On the afternoon of Wednesday 3 November, the NISS raided the offices of Al Sahafa newspaper in Khartoum and took Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim from the editing room. According to eye witnesses, the NISS refused to allow him to call his family before he was taken away. They confiscated his mobile phone and took him to an undisclosed location.
Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim’s arrest follows the arrests of eight other known activists from Darfur between 30 October and 3 November, and an unknown number of others whose identify, or present whereabouts remain unconfirmed.
All nine known detainees are from Darfur and are believed to be held by the NISS, in an undisclosed location. Reports suggest that one of them, Abdelrahman Adam Abdelrahman, has been subjected to torture. None of the detainees have had access to their family or a lawyer. None of their families have been informed of their whereabouts or reasons for their arrests.
Torture or other forms of ill-treatment of human rights activists and journalists by the National Intelligence and Security Services is often reported in Sudan, particularly among Darfuris and when those detained are not given access to the outside world. Amnesty International documented many cases of torture and ill-treatment in detention against human rights activists and journalists, and among Darfuris, namely at the hands of the NISS.
The NISS continues to impose restrictions on freedom of expression in Sudan and to target journalists in relation to their writing. Journalists are often prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their opinions. In June 2010, six opposition journalists from Rai Al Shaab newspaper were arrested by the NISS. Some of them were tortured and otherwise ill-treated; three of them, Abuzar Al Amin, Al Tahir Abujawhara and Ashraf Abdelaziz, were sentenced to five and two years in prison in relation to an article written by Abuzar Al Amin.
The 2010 National Security Act (2010 NSA), passed in December 2009, provides extensive powers of arrest and detention to members of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Under the same act, NISS agents are also provided with immunity from prosecution for any act committed in the course of their work. The 2010 NSA maintained powers and immunities provided under the previous law, the 1999 National Security Forces Act. As a result of these laws, a culture of impunity has pervaded in Sudan and NISS members have been carrying out human rights violations with impunity.
Although Sudan’s Criminal Procedure Code contains safeguards against incommunicado detention, Article 50 of the 2010 NSA stipulates that the NISS can arrest and detain any person for a total period of four and a half months without judicial oversight. The 2010 Act does not specify the grounds on which such detentions can be made. Such incommunicado detention without access to the outside world and without any outside inspection increases the likelihood of torture taking place.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the arrest and detention of journalists Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim and Abdelrahman Adam Abdelrahman, which PEN believes is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
- Urging the Sudanese authorities to disclose the whereabouts of both journalists and guarantee them immediate access to family and lawyers;
- Expressing serious concern that the journalists have been held incommunicado and that Abdelrahman Adam Abdelrahman has reportedly been subjected to torture and ill-treatment;
- Calling on the Sudanese authorities to release the two journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture against Abdelrahman.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
PO Box 281
Fax: +249 183 774339
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
Salutation: Dear Director Abbas
Dr. Priscilla Joseph
Chair of the Human Rights Committee
Fax: +249 187 560 980
Salutation: Dear Dr Joseph
Please also copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible.
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after November 30, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org