Rwandan FlagCivic Freedom Monitor: Sudan

Introduction | At a Glance | Key Indicators | International Rankings
Legal Snapshot | Legal Analysis | Reports | News and Additional Resources
Last updated 9 May 2017

Introduction

The history of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Sudan dates to the country’s colonial period under Anglo-Egyptian rule, from1899 until Sudan’s independence in 1956. During this time, there were a small number of cultural, literary, and artistic societies of limited membership in Khartoum. In the mid-1940s, however, political movements started to become active in Sudan in the struggle for either Sudan’s independence or, alternately, a union with Egypt. The most active organization was the Graduates Congress (in reference to the graduates of Gordon Memorial College), which was founded by political leaders from various sectors of society who established political parties based on their various social, tribal, ethnic, and regional affiliations. These new parties eventually played a role in the negotiations for the post-colonial future of Sudan and are considered to be the first CSOs in Sudan’s history.

Following Sudanese independence, CSOs working on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights formed across the country, especially in Khartoum. The legal and operating environment for CSOs varied significantly in subsequent years, however, depending on the nature of the government in power. Sudan has had three parliamentary democracies and three military governments since independence, including the current government, and CSOs have tended to fair better under civilian rule. When the present military government took power in a 1989 coup, the government of newly installed President Omar Hassan al-Bashir declared a State of Emergency that included the banning of all political parties, organizations, professional associations, trades unions, societies, newspapers and magazines. It has been an uphill battle for CSOs in Sudan ever since.

Pressure on civil society reached a high in September 2013 and has continued since then. In September 2013 there were protests in which more than 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed in the streets of Khartoum and other cities. One year later, the government launched a crackdown on CSOs, including detaining 48 activists, according to the Sudan Change Now movement. In the months before the presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2015, the government again cracked down on CSOs, human rights defenders, students, the media and members of the political opposition, and refused to allow CSOs to observe the elections. Some CSOs, such as Massarat, were closed down, while others, such as The Civic Forum, The Sudanese Writers Union, and Mahmoud Mohammed Taha Centre, had their licenses revoked and offices closed as a result of their political activism. In early 2015, at least 16 newspapers had their publications confiscated by the Sudan Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and more than 21 journalists were interrogated by the police and the NISS. This revealed that the government was not prepared to create a more enabling space within which CSOs can operate and carry out their missions. The crackdown continued in 2016 when the government filed capital charges against six CSO activists associated with Training and Human Development (TRACKs). TRACKs, a Khartoum-based organization, was raided twice before by NISS, which also confiscated the passports of its staff members. In addition, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has tightened its grip on civil society, including through scrutiny of women’s organizations.

Despite the ruling's party's suggestions in recent years that it is open to "national dialogue" with civil society and other political parties, there has been little action to support such statements. On the contrary, the government excluded CSOs from dialogue because it assumed they are opposed to the regime in power. After three years of deliberation, at the start of 2017, the idea of having a "national dialogue" has come to an end. The various political parties outside the government's single-party system came to the conclusion that any “reforms”, including to amend the Constitution, were intended to entrench the President’s powers and increase the number of MPs in “Opposition Parties" who are actually supporters of the Congress Party that has been in power since the 1989 coup d'etat. More significantly, the proposed reform of laws on public freedoms, including those governing CSOs, the media and public assembly, has been postponed until the next session of Parliament. This means that the current restrictive laws on CSOs will continue in force.

The only positive recent developments relate to two Court of Appeal rulings in 2016, which reinstated two CSOs that had previously been banned by executive order. It is hoped that such a judicial stand will ameliorate an otherwise difficult situation for other CSOs that have been banned or are under pressure.

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At a Glance

Organizational Forms National voluntary organization, charitable organization, civil society organization (as defined in the Voluntary and Humanitarian Work (Organization) Act).
Registration Body Ministry of Interior.
Barriers to Entry Mandatory registration; Burdensome requirements (30 minimum founders required); Annual re-registration.
Barriers to Activities Suppression of CSOs not aligned with government.
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy Fines and penalties for CSOs that publicly disagree with the government; refusal to allow CSOs to participate in "national dialogue."
Barriers to International Contact “Country Agreements” required for foreign CSOs.
Barriers to Contact Nearly impossible to receive permit to hold an assembly.
Barriers to Resources Advanced government approval for all foreign funding.
Barriers to Assembly Nearly impossible to receive a permit to hold an assembly.

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Key Indicators

Population 34,847,910 (2012 est.)
Capital Khartoum
Type of Government Federal republic ruled by the National Congress Party the (NCP), which came to power by military coup in 1989
Life Expectancy at Birth Male: 60.58 years
Female: 64.67 years (2012 est.)
Literacy Rate Male: 71.8%
Female: 50.5% (2003 est.)
Religious Groups Sunni Islam, small Christian minority
Ethnic Groups Sudanese Arab (approximately 70%), Fur, Beja, Nuba, Fallata
GDP per capita $2,400 (2012 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.

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International Rankings

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale 
(best – worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 167 (2015) 1 – 182
World Bank Rule of Law Index 8.6 (2014) 100 – 0
World Bank Voice & Accountability Index 3.8 (2014) 100 – 0
Transparency International 165 (2015) 1 – 180
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: "Worst of the Worst"
Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7 (2017)
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
1 – 7
1 – 7
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index
Rank: 4 (2016)
178 – 1
0-10

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Legal Snapshot

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 18 Mar. 1986
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) No  --
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 21 Mar. 1977
Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention No --
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes --
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) No 3 Mar. 1990
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women No  --
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 4 Apr. 2009
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) No  --
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 4 Apr. 2009
Regional Treaties    
Arab Charter on Human Rights
African Charter on Human Rights and People's Rights
No
Yes
--
11 Mar. 1986

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The 2005 Interim National Constitution (INC) followed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) (Summary) of the same year, which was concluded between the Government of Sudan and the South Sudan-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). A new constitution is expected to be adopted in the coming years, but there is controversy between the Government of Sudan and opposition parties, including independent civil society organizations, on the nature of the new constitution. The Government may seek to impose an Islamicconstitution and the opposition is advocating a civil (secular) constitution.

The current INC does provide for protection of freedom of assembly and association. Article 40 of the INC states:

(1)        The right to peaceful assembly shall be guaranteed; every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others; including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his or her interests.
(2)        Formation and registration of political parties, associations and trade unions shall be regulated by law as is necessary in a democratic society.
(3)        No association shall function as a political party atthe national, Southern Sudan, or state level unless:

(a)        Its membership is open to any Sudanese irrespective of religion, ethnic origin or place of birth.
(b)        It has a programme that does not contradict the provisions of this Constitution.
(c)        It has a democratically elected leadership and institutions.
(d)       It has disclosed and transparent sources of funding.

Article 27(3) of the INC also states:

All rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants, and instruments ratified by the Republic of the Sudan shall be an integral part of this Bill.

As Sudanratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1986, Sudan is bound by the ICCPR’s provisions, including Article 21 (the freedom of peaceful assembly) and Article 22 (the freedom of association).

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

CSOs are governed by the Voluntary and Humanitarian Work (Organization) Act, 2006 (“the Act") (Arabic version). The legislation is inconsistent with many provisions of the 2005 Interim National Constitution and the ICCPR. A key concern is Section 6 of the Act, which defines the objectives of humanitarian work narrowly, so as to include only such goals as emergency relief from natural disasters, reducing risks from disasters, directing relief aid to rehabilitation and development, reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by war or natural disasters, building local capacity of national organizations, and the execution of relief projects and services through voluntary and charitable organizations.

It is thus clear that the Act is intended for humanitarian relief and charitable work, rather than the wider scope of civil society pursuits, such as the rule of law, democratic transition, justice and fundamental human rights and freedoms. CSOs working in these fields face harassmentfrom government officials in charge of registering CSOs, and in particular from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The National Intelligence and Security Act, 2010, empowers the NISS to search, arrest and detain persons for varying periods, without any judicial supervision or sanction.

Pending CSO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

The Government of Sudan has been in the process of preparing a new Islamic Constitution, which civil society and the majority of opposition parties believed at the outset would not be suitable for a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, such as Sudan. In February 2015, President Omar Bashir said, "the drafting of a permanent constitution will be preceded by a comprehensive Islamic dialogue between all sectors of society to reach a constitution acceptable to all the people of Sudan and a model of the Islamic state." The various political parties outside the government's single-party system concluded in early 2017 that any “reforms” to amend the Constitution are intended to entrench the President’s powers and increase the number of MPs in “Opposition Parties" who are actually supporters of the Congress Party that has been in power since the 1989 coup d'etat.

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Legal Analysis

Organizational Forms

There are three organizational forms defined in Section 4 of the Voluntary and Humanitarian Work (Organization) Act (“the Act”):

  • A “national voluntary organization” is defined as “a Sudanese non-governmental voluntary organization registered in accordance with the provisions of this Act” that does not include a:
    • a company registered in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act, 1925; or
    • a political party.
    A “charitable organization” is an “organization that may be established by citizens, groups or individuals and having thefinancial ability to establish and sustain charitable activities.”
  • A “civil society organization” is “a civil society organization that practices voluntary and humanitarian work for not-for-profit purposes and which is registered in accordance with the provisions of [the Act].”

According to the Act, “voluntary and humanitarian work” means any “not-for-profit voluntary humanitarian activity carried out by any national or foreign voluntary or charitable organization registered in Sudanthat aims atproviding humanitarian aid, relief, public servicesand human rights services, protecting the environment, or enhancingthe economic and social standards of the beneficiaries.”(Section 4)

Public Benefit Status

There are no clear rules about tax exemptions or public benefit status in Sudan. However, according to the Act, exemptions on customs and other duties, taxes, and funds given to organizations that carry out “voluntary or charitable work”may be granted by the Minister of Finance and National Economy, upon the recommendation of the Minister [of Humanitarian Affairs],“to national, foreign voluntary organizations, or civil society organizations registered under the Act.” (Section 29(1),(2), and (3))

Barriers to Entry

There are a number of barriers to entry in the Act. For instance:

Minimum membership requirement.
In order to register a voluntary or charitable organization, the Act requires the organization to have a minimum of 30 members. (Section 9(1)(a)) However, if the organization has less than 30 members, “the Minister [of Humanitarian Affairs] may approve the registration of an organization on condition that [the organization] establishes that it has financial capacity, sustainability, sources of funding, and is registered.” (Section 9(2))

Requirements for foreign organizations. A foreign voluntary organization “shall provide proof showing its financial and technical capability to carry out the activities or work it intends to carry out in Sudan and the source of those capabilities.”(Section 9(2)(e)) In addition, it “shall not have its quarters or origin in any country in a state of war with the Sudan, or boycotted by [Sudan].” (Section 9(2)(d))

Annual re-registration requirement. Every organization must annually renew its license “as to such conditions, as the regulations may specify.” (Section 11)

Mandatory registration. Registration is mandatory and unregistered organizations can be fined for not being registered. Section 23 states that “every person, or group of persons, who practice the activity of voluntary organization, without registration in accordance with the provisions of this Act” is deemed to have committed a contravention[of the Act].”Section 24 defines the penalty for contravention as a fine. As a result, Sudanese CSOs that are unregistered or were refused registration have been forced to hold their meetings in other countries, such as Ethiopia, to avoid arrest.

Refusal of registration. The Registrar may reject the registration of any organization where “the activities it carries out are inconsistent with the principles provided for in section 5[of the Act]”(Section 13(1)(a))

These “principles” include:

  • Non–discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, ethnicity, political afflation or religious beliefs; (Section 5(a))
  • Having due regard for the desires of the local community at all stages of the project through the participation of local communities; (Section 5(e)) and
  • Non-interference of foreign voluntary organizations in the internal affairs of the Sudan in a way that may infringe on the sovereignty of the country. (Section 5(f))

The non-discrimination principle, while it may seem appealing, could violate the freedom of association. For example, an advocacy campaign to bring together “women against forced marriages” or to raise awareness about the human rights of a certain minority group could risk violating the provision in Section 5(a) since they could be considered “discriminatory” on the basis of gender or ethnicity.

Similarly, the interest in the participation of local communities in CSO projects in Section 5(e) and preventing foreign CSOs from “interfering” in internal affairs in Section 5(f) are not “precise” grounds for denial and do not meet the strict limitations for restricting the freedom of association under the ICCPR. Terms such as “due regard for the desires of the local community,” “non-interference” and “internal affairs” are undefined in the Act, giving implementing officials substantial discretion to determine whether an organization’s activities are in violation of the Act.

Furthermore, a decision to refuse registration may be appealed to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs within fifteen days, but there is no required timetable for the Minister to respond to the appeal and there is no ability to make a subsequent appeal to an impartial body. (Section 13(3))

Revocation of registration. An organization can have its registration revoked if it “has contravened the provisions of this Act, the regulations or any other law in force;” if it fails, “without acceptable justification,” to perform its activities for the period of one year; or if it “uses humanitarian aid for obtaining unlawful gains.” (Section 14(1)) These vague provisions leave undefined terms such as “acceptable justification” and “unlawful gains” and open the door to revocation even for minor infractions of law.

In addition, there are practical barriers to entry.  For example, the Sudan Development Initiative (SUDIA) tried to open an office in Red Sea State in 2013.  After waiting for over three months, SUDIA received a formal answer from the HAC notifying SUDIA that the request was declined, and without stating any reason as to why the HAC declined the request. HAC has also been obstructing the work of other national NGOs throughout the country, even those that engage with the HAC and ensure their compliance with the HAC’s procedures and regulations.

Barriers to Operational Activity

Legal barriers to operational activity in the Act include the following:

Annual re-registration requirement.Every registered organization must renew its license on an annual basis. (Section 11)

Interference in internal affairs.The Registrar has the authority to “supervise the elections of national organizations.” (Section 22(2)(d))

Reporting requirements. Every registered organization must submit to the Registrar a semi-annual report on its business;an annual report; and a copy of the annual budget, which is “approved by a certified auditor.” (Section 27(1))

Government harassment. CSOs face many restrictions. The permission of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is required prior to carrying out any proposed activity. The NISS uses its powers to prevent activities it classifies as “political,” including, for example, workshops that intend to discuss the contents of the new Constitution.

Civil society also faces a number of extra-legal pressures. In 2014, for example, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) began scrutinizing several women’s organizations, including Salmmah Women's Resource Centre, whose Director was served with a decree signed and stamped by the Sudanese Ministry of Justice that ordered the cancellation of Salmmah's registration license and Salmmah's immediate liquidation. A five-person committee was also appointed to oversee its dissolution process while plain-clothed civilians, who did not identify themselves, accompanied the Dissolution Committee to Salmmah's offices and prohibited non-staff members from entering Salmmah's premises. This has led to concerns that the HAC will continue to shut down organizations that it perceives to be working against its interests, even those that provide needed services to women.

Other incidents that illustrate extra-legal pressures on civil society include the following:

  • In November 2012, the newly formed Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations (CSCSOs) purported to hold a press conference to declare the new organization. The NISS entered the premises of Sudan Human Rights Monitor (where the press conference was to be held) and ordered the dispersal of the gathering as an unlawful meeting for which no permission was obtained, labeling the meeting a threat to a “national security.”
  • Also in November 2012, the Sudanese Writers Union was given a warning that a workshop held on the proposed constitution was a “political” activity in which they should not engage.
  • In December 2012, the Sudan Studies Centre was suspended for one year in a letter from the Minister of Information alleging that the Centre had been engaged in activities threatening “national security.” On the same day the Dar Alfinoon (House of Arts) was closed for the same reason.

Barriers to Speech/Advocacy

CSOs supporting the government in power enjoy full government backing, including funding, customs exemptions on imports, and participation in government activities, including accompanying official delegations on travel to regional and international events. CSOs opposing the government, however, are often harassed, threatened, and closed down if they voice a position contrary to government views. The government also refuses to allow CSOs to take part in "national dialogue" because they are perceived as opposing the government.

In the months before the presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2015, the government again cracked down on CSOs, human rights defenders, students, the media and members of the political opposition, and refused to allow CSOs to observe the elections. SomeCSOs, such as Massarat, were closed down, while others, such as The Civic Forum, The Sudanese Writers Union, and Mahmoud Mohammed Taha Centre, had their licenses revoked and offices closed as a result of their political activism. In early 2015, at least 16 newspapers had their publications confiscated by the Sudan Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and more than 21 journalists were interrogated by the police and the NISS. In addition, Sudan's crackdown continued in 2016 when the government filed capital charges against six CSO activists associated with Training and Human Development (TRACKs). TRACKs, a Khartoum-based organization, was raided twice before by the NISS, which also confiscated the passports of its staff members.

The Armed Forces Amendment Act, 2013, which allows military courts to try civilians for various crimes under Sudan's 1991 criminal code, including the spreading of "false news," has also been used to prosecute journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society activists.

Barriers to International Contact

There are no legal barriers that restrict the ability of domestic organizations from contacting or communicating with international counterparts.  In practice, however, governmental authorities have stifled the ability of domestic CSOs from participating in international fora. In March 2016, for example, four CSO representatives were intercepted by security officials at Khartoum International Airport on their way to a high level human rights meeting with diplomats in Geneva. 

Several provisions do potentially restrict the ability of foreign organizations from operating in Sudan.  For example, Section 5(f) requires the “Non-interference of foreign voluntary organizations in the internal affairs of the Sudan in a way that may infringe on the sovereignty of the country.”  In addition, Section 9 sets forth the following registration requirements for a foreign organization:

  • “Its headquarters or origin shall not be in any state in a state of war with Sudan, or boycotted by [Sudan];” (Section 9(3)(d))
  • The foreign organization “shall produce what may prove itsfinancial and technical capabilities to carry outthe activities or work it intends to carry out in Sudan and the source of those capabilities;”(Section 9(3)(e))
  • The foreign organization “shall sign the country agreement;” (Section 9(3)(g)) and
  • The foreign organization shallsatisfy “any other conditions, as the minister may lay down, from time to time.” (Section 9(3)(h))

All of these provisions may be subject to arbitrary interpretation so as to prevent foreign organizations from operating in Sudan.

Barriers to Resources

According to Section 7(1) of the Act, CSOs seeking grants or funding for an organization’s program must have a “project instrument” approved by the government. CSOs may not obtain funds or grants from inside or outside the country, except with prior approval of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. (Section 7(2))

A recent policy issued by the HAC in 2013 reinforces these rules.  The 2013 policy requires CSOs to secure HAC approval for projects and individual activities before a CSO obtains funding from foreign sources. However, the HAC will only grant approval if the project is aimed at providing humanitarian services; advocacy activities will not receive approval. The receipt of foreign funding without prior HAC approval subjects the CSO to dissolution.

Barriers to Assembly

Excessive government discretion. According to Section 69 of the Interim National Constitution (INC), a “breach of the peace” occurs even when one person commits an act, which “is likely to breach the peace or public tranquility.” The consequence of a “breach of the peace” is severe: punishment with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month, or a fine, or flogging not exceeding twenty “lashes.” With vague terms such as “public tranquility,” this is a troublesome provision that may deters individuals fromengaging in assemblies.

Place restrictions. Under section 127 of the INC, the Governor or Commissioner of the jurisdiction may order the prohibition or restriction of any meeting, assembly or procession on public roads or places where a “breach of the peace” is likely. There is no right to appeal against the prohibition.

Notification. Although the INC provides for freedom of assembly, the Government has relied on a Circular from the Minister of Interior, which states that before any rally or demonstration may take place, the organizers must submit to the Minister a letter of intent, including why, where and when they plan to assemble. The Minster must give his consent in writing before such demonstration can take place. In fact, however, no such permit is ever given.

In connection to this, it is important to mention an incident that occurred on December 30, 2012. Following a series of raids by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on the premises of CSOs, and the suspension of the activities of other CSOs, dozens of members of suspended CSOs decided to present a petition to the recently established National Commission on Human Rights. When these CSOs reached the premises of the Commission, security and police forces forcibly prevented them from entry and arrested two people. The Chairman and some members of the Commission intervened, arguing that it was within the Commission’s mandate to admit the CSOs and receive their petition. This was rejected by the security forces, who replied that they do not receive orders from the Commission. The crowd was then dispersed by force. What was unprecedented is that the Commission issued a press statement the same day denouncing the action of the security forces as a denial of the constitutional rights of CSOs and an affront to the Commission’s role and its immunity, and that the Commission would take any action necessary to ensure that such actions are not repeated in future.

Enforcement. Article 40 of the INC protects the right to freedom of assembly, but in practice assemblies, rallies, demonstrations and public gatherings face suppression by the police and the NISS. National Security laws adopted since the 1989 coup – the latest being the National Intelligence and Security Act, 2010 – have empowered the NISS to search, arrest and detain persons for varying periods, without any judicial supervision or sanction. In particular, the NISS has been used to prevent protest demonstrations and rallies, no matter what the purpose. Resorting to the Constitutional Court has proved futile, as the petition is always rejected when one is seeking to contest the legality of suppression of the right of assembly on the basis of alleged threat to “national security.”

Since the separation of South Sudan in July 2011 – and the stoppage of the revenue from oil, which constituted more than 75% of GDP – inflation has hit the economy very hard and   affected the lives of the majority of the Sudanese population. Peaceful demonstrations spread throughout the country in July and August 2012 and again in September 2013, especially at university campuses, schools and poor quarters in towns. The police and security organs were high-handed in repressing these demonstrations, using teargas, electric sticks and batons; detaining several individuals and political party leaders for weeks in solitary prison cells in secret detention houses, and subjecting them to torture and inhuman treatment.

Criminal penalties. Prison terms and physical punishment are common for even minor infractions of the laws on assembly, most of which are written vaguely to allow the authorities broad discretion to determine which actions are “unlawful” and warrant penalties. Two such examples are included below:
Section 67 of the Sudan Penal Code provides as follows:

“A person shall be said to commit the offence of breach of the peace if he joins in any crowd of five persons or more, if the crowd shows force or uses terrorism or violence, or if the common intention is to achieve any of the following objects:

  • To resist the execution of a provision of any law or any legal process.
  • To commit the offence of mischief or criminal trespass or any other offence.
  • To exercise any right or claimed right in way that may lead to a breach of public peace.
  • To compel a person to do what he is legally bound to do or to omit to do what he is lawfully entitled to do.”

Section 68 provides:

“Any person who commits the offence of ‘breach of the peace’ shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or with flogging which may not exceed twenty lashes. If he is carrying a weapon or any instrument which may cause death or grievous harm he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or with fine or with both.”

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Reports

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports

Sudan

Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Sudan
USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes

Not available

U.S. State Department

2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Sudan

Fragile States Index Report

Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index

IMF Country Reports Sudan and the IMF
International Commission of Jurists Not Available
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Sudan

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News and Additional Resources

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

General News

Sudanese security service arrests human rights defender (May 2017)
The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Sudanese human rights defender Mudawi Ibrahim Adam in Khartoum and took him to undisclosed location, said Amnesty International. Adam was arrested on Wednesday December 7 at Khartoum University, where he works as an engineering professor. Amnesty International said his arrest is "further proof of the government's intolerance of independent voices".

Opposition Leaders Barred From Flying to Paris (January 2017)
Agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) prevented seven prominent opposition leaders from travelling to the French capital. They are all leading members of the Sudan Appeal, a two-page document calling for regime-change and democracy, signed by them and the rebel movements allied in the Sudan Revolutionary Front, in Addis Ababa in December 2014.

Sudan Activists Charged with Death Penalty Crimes (August 2016)
Following the filing of capital charges against six civil society activists associated with Training and Human Development (TRACKs), Freedom House issued the following statement: “Authorities in Sudan have charged Khalaf-Allah Al-Afif Muktar, Mustafa Adam, Midhat Afifaddin Hamadan, Arwa Al-Rabie, Imany-Leila Ray, and Al-Hassan Kheiry with espionage and terrorism, charges that are preposterous and were brought against these individuals for exercising the fundamental right to free association.... The government of Sudan should either drop these absurd charges or ensure a speedy and fair trial. It should allow observers to attend all proceedings and guarantee the defendants’ right to receive visitors in prison.” TRACKs, a Khartoum-based organization, has been raided twice during the last two years by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services, which has confiscated the passports of staff members. In April 2015 criminal charges—some carrying the death penalty—were brought against TRACKs Director Khalafalla Alafif Mukhtar and Adil Bakheit, a human rights defender and member of the Board of Directors for Sudanese Human Rights Monitor.

Sudan blocks civil society participation in UN-led human rights review (August 2016)
The efforts of the Government of Sudan to obstruct the engagement of civil society activists in a United Nations (UN)-led human rights review of the country is unacceptable and shows blatant contempt not just for human rights defenders in Sudan, but to human rights standards and the UN Human Rights Council. Four representatives of Sudanese civil society were intercepted by security officials at Khartoum International Airport on their way to a high level human rights meeting with diplomats which took place in Geneva on 31 March. The meeting was organised by the international NGO, UPR Info, in preparation for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sudan that will take place in May.

Civil Society Barred From Holding Press Conference (December 2015)
Security agents prevented a number of Sudanese civil society organisations from holding a press conference in Khartoum. In a joint statement, the organisations stated that they will adhere to their "constitutional rights of free expression and gathering". They said they will continue to organise a series of meetings in which they will express their views on "the current cultural state of affairs in the country, and the government legislations and practices that shackle any cultural and artistic activity".

Leading human rights defender released from prison (April 2015)
On April 9, 2015, the Sudanese Minister of Justice announced the suspension of the case brought against Dr. Medani, President of Sudan's Confederation of Civil Society Organisations, Vice President of Civil Society Initiative, and former President of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM). He was released, along with Mr. Faruq Abu Eissa, chairman of the opposition group, the National Consensus Forces and Mr. Farah Ibrahim Alagar, political activist. The three men were released the same day.

Sudan Government stifling media and civil society (April 2015)
With the general elections fast approaching in Sudan, the government's clampdown on dissenting voices threatens the independence and freedom of action of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, students, the media and members of the political opposition, Amnesty International said in a briefing. Since January 2015, at least 16 newspapers have had editions of their publications confiscated by the Sudan Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Some 21 journalists have been interrogated by the police and the NISS. Three leading civil society organizations have been shut down, with at least five others under imminent threat of closure.

Sudan Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrests civil society leaders (December 2014)
Agents of the Sudan Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained Faroug Abu Eisa, leader of the National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), Dr Amin Mekki Madani, chairman of the Sudanese Civil Society Initiative, and Dr Farah El Agar, senior consultant of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). The three leaders were detained at their homes in Khartoum and Omdurman, a day after returning from Addis Ababa. In Addis Ababa, they met with the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) mediation team for Sudan to discuss their participation in the National Dialogue, as proposed by President Omar Al Bashir earlier in 2014. A spokesman for the ruling National Congress Party said that the civil society leaders will face criminal charges.

In anniversary of September 2013 uprising, regime cracks down on freedoms (September 2014)
During the month that witnessed the first anniversary of the 'uprising' of September 2013, when more than 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed in the streets of Khartoum and other cities, the Sudanese regime continued its crackdown on political and civil liberties. The regime froze the activities of the "Regional Centre for Training and Development of Civil Society", prevented the annual meeting of the Confederation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations and previously the "Salamah Centre for Feminist Studies" was shut down by national security agents without providing any reasons in each of these cases. Furthermore, the security agencies launched a detention campaign, during which dozens of political activists were arrested and kept in detention in unknown places.

End Arbitrary Detention of Activists - Investigate Allegations of Torture, Abuse (June 2014)

Sudan's VP reiterates government's determination to hold national dialogue (January 2014)

Sudan ruling party dissident forms 'Reform Now Movement' (January 2014)

In Sudan, Civil Society says It's Struggling to Work Around US Sanctions' Block on Tech (January 2014)

UN Expert deeply concerned at mass arrests and heavy media censorship during protests (October 2013)

At Least 32 Killed, 700 Arrested In Worst Unrest In Years (October 2013)

Sudan to further restrict work of foreign aid groups including UN agencies (August 2013)

Crackdown on civil society in Sudan emboldens hardliners (March 2013)

On the closure of Al Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE) (December 2012

Human Rights Watch

Sudan: Despite Pledge, Many Political Prisoners Remain

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The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL Civic Freedom Monitor partner organization in Rwanda.