Detention of Journalists in Khartoum and Marawi

Human Rights Alert: Sudan Organisation Against Torture SOAT, 23 August 2006

 

On 16 August 2006 at 02:30am, approximately twenty police officers arrested Naser Eldien Ahmed Altayeb, (26 yrs), journalist working for the Arabic daily, Alayam newspaper. Following his arrest, Mr. Naser Eldien was taken to a nearby police vehicle. Inside the car, Mr. Naser Eldien was beaten with sticks by two of the arresting officers.

Mr. Naser Eldien is currently receiving medical treatment at Khartoum Teaching Hospital. SOAT partner organisation, Khartoum Center for Human Rights and Environmental Development (KCHRED) is providing legal assistance to Mr. Naser Eldien.

Mr. Naser Eldien was arrested whilst reporting on the forced relocation of residents at Dar al Salaam, situated 20 miles South of Khartoum in Algazera province following a Court Order to evict the residents. The residents of Dar al Salaam, mainly IDPs from Southern Sudan and Darfur have resided in the area for over two decades and have refused to move pending a suitable alternative, which they were negotiating with the government. The land in Dar al Salaam has been sold to an Egyptian businessperson who planned to develop the land as a Theme Park.

In a separate incident, on 15 August 2006, at 02:00am, four journalists were detained and prevented from entering Amri, Marawi, Northern Sudan. The journalists had travelled to Marawi to report on the plight of thousands of people made homeless following flood caused by heavy rains on 10 August 2006, which destroyed all the homes constructed by the government to house the displaced population in the region. The details of the journalists are as follows:

1. Mougahed Abdalla; Ray Alshab Daily Newspaper

Aboulgasiem Farahna; Alowan Daily Newspaper
Moutaz Mahjoob; Al Adwaa Daily Newspaper
Mouheb Maher; Al Sudani Daily newspaper

The journalists were arrested whilst attempting to gain access to the flooded area. Initially the journalists arrived at the entrance gate to the area, where they were denied entry by an armed police officer. The officer informed them that the police officers stationed at Amri have received orders to deny access to journalists.

The journalists then attempted to enter the site from an unmanned entrance unaware that armed officers from the army and from military intelligence had in fact followed them. The journalists were arrested and taken to security offices in Marawi where they were interrogated by security office named as Officer Adel Awed. The journalists were interrogated about the source of their information on the situation in Amri and who had helped them to arrive in Amri. The journalists were released at 06:10am, over four hours after their arrest. The journalists were ordered to leave Amri immediately and to return to Khartoum.

Background

In 2004, the government of Sudan approved a scheme to construct a dam over the Nile River in Marawi without consultation with the local population or adequate compensation provisions for loss of homes and livelihoods. Inevitably, once work began on the dam, thousands of the local population became displaced, in some cases forcibly. Following widespread condemnation by both national and international civil society groups, the government began negotiations with the displaced population on areas of resettlement and began to construct approximately 2200 homes for the displaced. The government has built approximately 2200 homes to house thousands of people. The people who agreed to relocate to these new homes have now lost everything following the heavy rainfalls and flooding.

SOAT condemns the violence against Mr. Eldien and the arbitrary arrests of the four journalists solely for exercising their rights as enshrined in the National Interim Constitution and in international law. Article 39 (1) of the Constitution provides that “every citizen shall have an unrestricted right to the freedom of expression, reception of information, publication, and access to the press without prejudice to order, safety or public morals as determined by law”. Most importantly, article 39 (2) places the responsibility for ensuring this right on the government, “the State shall guarantee the freedom of the press and other media as shall be regulated by law in a democratic society.”

SOAT urges the Government of Sudan to:

Investigate the torture of Eldien Ahmed Altayeb and to bring the perpetrators to justice;
End impunity for crimes committed by government security forces;
Commit to the voluntary resettlement of all displaced population in Sudan; ensure safe passage, and compensate the local population for loss of livelihoods and property caused by the arbitrary seizure of lands and to return these lands;

Immediately dismantle the various branches of security forces operating across the Sudan;

End restrictions on freedom of expression, allow full and open reporting of, and comment upon the current state of affairs in Sudan, particularly in Darfur;

Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with the National Interim Constitution and international human rights laws and standards.

The above recommendations should be sent in appeals to the following addresses:

His Excellency Omar Hassan al-Bashir
President of the Republic of Sudan
President’s Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 783223
His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit

First Vice-President People's Palace
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 771025

His Excellency Ali Osman Mohamed Taha
Vice-President People's Palace
P.O Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 771025

Mr. Lam Akol Ajawin
Minister of Foreign Affairs
P.O Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 779383

Mr. Al Zubeir Beshir Taha
Minister of Interior
P.O Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 779383

Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha
Advisory Council for Human Rights
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 77088

SOAT is an international human rights organisation established in the UK in 1993. If you have any questions about this or any other SOAT information, please contact us:

Argo House
Kilburn Park Road
London NW6 5LF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7625 8055
Fax: +44 (0)20 7372 2656
E-mail: info@soatsudan.org

Website: www.soatsudan.org

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