Reacting to news that Sudanese human rights defender Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam has been released from prison and all charges against him dropped, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:
“It is a great relief that this awful chapter has drawn to a close. Dr Mudawi, a prisoner of conscience, has been reunited with his family and is once again a free man.
“Dr Mudawi’s eight months in prison represent a grave miscarriage of justice and his release must serve as a first step towards ending the criminalisation of human rights work in Sudan. The authorities’ relentless assault on any form of criticism endangers anyone who dares to speak out, and it must stop.”
Dr Mudawi was released, along with five other human rights defenders, late on 29 August. He faced six trumped-up charges, including 'undermining the constitutional system’ and ‘waging war against the state', both of which carry either the death penalty or life imprisonment. All charges against him have been dropped.
Dr Mudawi is one of many human rights defenders featured in Amnesty’s new global campaign, ‘Brave’, which demands an end to attacks on human rights defenders around the world and calls on individuals and world leaders to stand with all those who fight against injustice and hate.
Amnesty’s report to launch this campaign, Human rights defenders under threat – a shrinking space for civil society, details how the killings of human rights defenders nearly doubled in a year. In 2016, 281 people were killed for doing so, up from 156 in 2015, according to evidence from the NGO Front Line Defenders. It also explains how journalists, lawyers, teachers, women’s rights activists and others who defend human rights around the world are facing unprecedented levels of intimidation and violence from governments, armed groups and businesses.
Published on Amnesty UK on August 30, 2017.
By DR. MUDAWI'S FAMILY
Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim is a globally renowned human rights defender, risking his life to protest killings in Darfur and to ease the suffering of others around Sudan. Now he is in prison in Sudan, facing charges that could lead to the death penalty. Here, his family speaks out.
Our father, Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim, has been detained by the Sudanese authorities for six months now without trial, solely for his work defending the rights of the Sudanese people. He has been fighting for the dignity and rights of others for as long as we can remember.
He was arrested in December 2016, though we were not informed of his arrest until a week later. Our home was raided and searched more than once: men with guns kept coming to our house to intimidate us. Our phone calls were monitored. We did not know where he was being held, nor were we allowed to see him or speak to him. All we could do was to petition the authorities for even the slightest bit of information. We were most often met with silence.
Finally, released detainees gave us some information: our father had gone on a hunger strike in protest of his illegal and arbitrary detention. As a result, he was chained by his hands and feet to a pipe and forced to stand in the brutal heat of the Khartoum sun. Our father did not break. He continued his hunger strike for one week until he was allowed access to us, his family, 51 days after his arrest. But still, they did not tell him why he was being detained.
Last month, 126 days after he was arrested, we were finally informed of the charges against him. Two of them are punishable by death. Despite the seriousness of the charges, he was only questioned twice during the entirety of his detention.
The defiance and kindness of Dr. Mudawi remains extraordinary, though the detention has taken a toll. He is 61, and he is fatigued and thin.
We live in continuous worry about the injustice that he is facing. Despite being detained for six months, the case is still not in court. Government officials know that, given the opportunity for a fair trial, our father will be cleared of all charges and the injustice of his case – and many like it – will be revealed.
We ask the international community to stand with us in solidarity. Our father’s only crime is being a human rights defender, fighting for the people of Sudan to live with dignity. So far, authorities have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to our legitimate pleas for justice. We require your support to ensure our father is provided a fair trial.
Published on The NY Times on June 7, 2017.
Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, a prominent Sudanese human rights defender, has been unlawfully detained for over two months, held by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) at Khartoum’s Kober Prison without charge or access to legal representation, 39 human rights groups and activists said.
Dr. Mudawi, who was arrested with his driver, Adam El-Sheikh Mukhtar, on December 7, 2016 at the University of Khartoum, has received three brief visits from family members, all of which have been supervised by the NISS. A public statement issued by the family after meeting him on January 27, 2017 stated that he appeared to be in poor health with visible weight loss. They said that the NISS have prevented Dr. Mudawi from receiving essential medication for a pre-existing heart condition. The latest visit, on February 9, followed a week-long hunger strike that continues to date. The family noted that Dr. Mudawi has lost further weight and is extremely fragile with decreasing blood pressure.
Released detainees also reported to Hurriyat and Radio Dabanga that they saw Dr. Mudawi being beaten by NISS officers following the declaration of his first hunger strike.
February 14, 2017 is 70 days since his arrest, and 13 days since Dr. Mudawi resumed a hunger strike to protest his detention without charge or access to legal representation. He originally went on hunger strike on January 22, but ended it on January 27 following a family visit. Dr. Mudawi resumed his hunger strike on February 2 to protest the continued unlawfulness of his detention. He has since been placed into a “punishment cell” with bad ventilation and very hot temperatures, thereby exacerbating his medical concerns. The NISS have furthermore opened proceedings against Dr. Mudawi under Article 133 (Attempted Suicide) as a result of his hunger strike.
The Government of Sudan, under law, is responsible and accountable for the mental and physical integrity of Dr. Mudawi, and over a dozen other detainees who are being held by NISS without charge or access to their families and lawyers. They include human rights defenders Tasneem Ahmed Taha Alzaki and Hafiz Idris. The NISS is known for ill-treatment and torture. Released detainees have reported harsh beatings by officials in Kober prison.
The undersigned organisations and individuals call on the Sudanese authorities to immediately release all detainees or to charge them with an internationally recognised offence, and to ensure their physical and psychological integrity in custody.
The prolonged detention, without access to counsel, of Dr. Mudawi and his colleagues constitutes a clear violation of international human rights norms, which prohibit arbitrary or unlawful detention. Sudan’s 2010 National Security Act allows NISS to hold detainees for up to four and a half months without judicial review, in violation of international human rights norms.
Moreover, the abuse of detainees – as documented by these organisations – violates Sudan’s obligations under international law and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which prohibit torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment.
The organizations condemn the silencing of political opposition members, activists, and human rights defenders through arbitrary detention, despite constitutional guarantees of the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The criminalization and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders is contrary to the protections guaranteed by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and Sudan’s obligations under international and regional human rights law.
The groups call upon the Government of Sudan to grant the aforementioned detainees immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers and family members, and release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards.
The groups also call on Sudan to reform the 2010 National Security Act which grants the NISS wide powers of arrest and detention for up to four and a half months without judicial review, as well as broad powers of search and seizure, permits incommunicado detention without prompt access to a lawyer, and grants immunity to officials.
The groups furthermore call for the investigation and prosecution of those found responsible for ill-treatment and torture. The organisations are unaware of any prosecution of NISS officers despite wide reporting of ill-treatment and torture in NISS facilities. Impunity for such violations remains the norm.
This is an excerpt of an article published on HRW's website on February 14, 2017.