A UN independent expert on human rights in Sudan, Mashood Adebayo Baderin, on Sunday expressed concern [UN News Centre report] regarding the arrest and detention of political opposition figures by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). According to media sources, pro-democracy protesters have publicly demonstrated [Reuters report] against longstanding president Omar Hassan al-Bashir [BBC profile], who has held office for 24 years. In response, the NISS has allegedly arrested and detained protesters without official charge and without access to judicial processes. In an official statement released by the UN after a recent visit, Baderin asserted [statement] that many detainees are suffering from health problems without access to medical treatment. He urged the government to release or promptly charge the detainees with "recognizable offenses and bring them before a court of law." Baderin also asserted that the NISS has "clamped down" on civil society organizations by preventing complaint submissions to the National Commission on Human Rights in Khartoum. The report elaborates:
The [National Commission on Human Rights] has rightly protested this hindrance on its function. I have expressed my regret about the occurrence of these incidents and urged the government to desist from such actions. I again call on the government to allow civil society organisations to operate freely, to respect the right to freedom of assembly, the freedom of expression, press freedom and also create an enabling environment of free and open political discourse in the on-going constitutional making process... I urge and encourage the Government to strengthen its effort to improve the situation of human rights in the country and endeavour to address [these] challenges...Baderin visited the country in June [JURIST report] and, while acknowledging steps taken by the government, he called for improvement in the areas of human rights, freedoms of expression and freedom of press. His final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September.
Sudan has a history of human rights issues, and the UN and other human rights groups have continuously called on the country to make improvements. In January Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Sudan [JURIST report] to end its crackdown against political and cultural groups. In October the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] called on Sudanese authorities to investigate an attack on one of its convoys [JURIST report]. In August the OHCHR called on Sudan [JURIST report] to investigate violent and excessive force by the government against protesters. In July Amnesty International [advocacy website] and HRW also urged Sudan [JURIST report] to end violence and abuse against protesters. In June the UN expressed concern [JURIST report] about deteriorating conditions in Sudan due to continued violent conflict in the country.