Sudanese security authorities should immediately release people arbitrarily detained since the military takeover on October 25, 2021, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. Security authorities should also cease further arbitrary arrests and stop using unnecessary, including lethal, force in response to peaceful protests.
From the early hours of October 25, security agents in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, detained at least 30 civilian political leaders, including six cabinet members. On the same day the army also detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and two days later placed him under house arrest. Permission from the military is required for anyone to meet with him while he is under house arrest. By midday, Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chairperson of the Sovereign Council – a collective presidency body of civilian and military leaders – announced to the media that he was installing a nationwide state of emergency and dissolving the cabinet and Sovereign Council.
“Over the last two weeks the military has resorted to its well-trodden and brutal tactics, undermining small but important progress on rights and freedoms that Sudanese from all walks of life have fought for,” said Mohamed Osman, Sudan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The military should immediately free all those arbitrarily detained over the last two weeks and end all illegal detentions, including enforced disappearances, by the military.”
Wagdi Salih, a lawyer and another prominent figure in the Committee for Dismantling the Former Regime, was also arrested on October 25. A family member authorized to speak on behalf of his family said that about 20 armed men in civilian clothes forced their way into Salih’s house around 4 a.m. and forcefully grabbed him from his bedroom while they held the guards in the house at gunpoint and handcuffed his son.
The family heard through social media that Salih and others were taken to the police federal investigations unit in Bahri, Khartoum North, and went to inquire about him. However, the police said he was not in their custody, and the office of the attorney general could not offer any information on Salih’s whereabouts either.
Under international law, when anyone is detained by state forces and their detention is either not acknowledged or the person’s whereabouts is concealed, placing them outside the protection of the law, this is an enforced disappearance. Enforced disappearances are forbidden in all circumstances.