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Sudan: Release Darfur Rights Defender

Sudan: Release Darfur Rights Defender

Lawyer Detained at Risk of Torture

(New York) – The Sudanese government should immediately free a human rights defender who was arbitrarily detained this week in Nyala, South Darfur, and may be at risk of torture, Human Rights Watch said today.

On May 16, Sudanese security services detained Mossaad Mohammed Ali, the coordinator of the Amel Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture, a non-governmental organization providing legal, medical, and psychosocial care for victims of rape, torture, and other abuses in South Darfur. To date no one from his family or from any independent monitoring agency has been permitted to visit him.

“The longer Mossaad Mohammed Ali is held incommunicado, the greater the risk of mistreatment, including torture,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Sudanese authorities must immediately release him, or charge him and give him access to legal counsel.”

Mossaad Mohammed Ali and Adam Mohamed Shareif, a lawyer with the Amel Centre, were ordered to report to the office of Sudanese security agents on May 15 in Nyala, South Darfur. They reported to the security office that day and were permitted to return home that night. The following day, May 16, Mossaad Mohammed Ali was arrested. He has not been charged and no one has been permitted to visit him, despite requests from his family, his lawyer, and U.N. human rights monitors. Adam Mohamed Shareif continues to visit the security office by day, but has been allowed to return home at night.

The detention of Mossaad Mohammed Ali is likely linked to the Amel Centre’s work treating and supporting victims of rape, torture, and other abuses by the warring parties in Darfur. Arbitrary arrests and detentions and other forms of abuse have been frequently used by Sudanese government agencies to harass and silence human rights defenders. Torture and other mistreatment of persons in detention in Sudan are common.

Humanitarian agency staff working in Darfur have also been threatened with deportation or accused of capital crimes by the Sudanese government over the past two years. Especially at risk are individuals from agencies that have publicly reported on the human rights abuses taking place in Darfur. Between December 2004 and April 2005 alone, Human Rights Watch documented the arbitrary arrest and detention of more than 20 aid workers and human rights defenders.

“Sudan’s promises to respect human rights clearly aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” said Takirambudde. “These arrests show that Khartoum’s campaign of harassing aid workers and human rights defenders continues at full speed, despite the recent Darfur peace agreement.”

The briefing paper “Darfur: Humanitarian Aid Under Siege” is available at:

http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/sudan0506/

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