Home | News    Thursday 13 February 2014

Sudan authorities colluded on torture of Eritrean refugees: report


February 12, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Authorities in Sudan have colluded with human traffickers in the kidnap and torture of hundreds of Eritrean refugees in the past 10 years, according to a new report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week.

JPEG - 17.2 kb
An Eritrean man trafficked from Sudan to Sinai shows the scars inflicted by his captors (AP)

The report, I Wanted to Lie Down and Die: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt, details harrowing testimonies from dozens of refugees who told HRW that Sudanese and Egyptian security officers often facilitated their abuse rather than arresting the traffickers.

Eritrean refugees are routinely brutalised by their captors, mutilation, burning, beatings and sexual assault.

Torture is used to extort large ransom payments from victims’ families, who are forced to listen to the screams of their loved ones over the telephone.

“They (traffickers) threatened to cut off my fingers using scissors. Sometimes they came into the room, took the women out, and then I heard the women screaming. They came back crying. During the eight months, I saw six others die because of this torture”, a 17-year-old Eritrean boy, who was kidnapped in eastern Sudan in August 2011, told HRW.

Of two traffickers interviewed by HRW, one acknowledged that he tortured dozens of people, despite the fact that he considered the practice “haram” (shameful).

His most recent group was four Eritreans, whose relatives were told to pay $33,000 each for their release.

“Sometimes I tortured them while they were on the phone so the relatives could hear them scream. I did to them what I do to everyone; I beat their legs and feet, and sometimes their stomachs and chest, with a wooden stick. I hang them upside down, sometimes for an hour. Three of them died because I beat them too hard. I released the one that paid”, he told HRW.


Victims have described how they were intercepted near the border by Sudanese police in the Eastern Sudan town of Kassala, who arbitrarily detained them, then handed them over to traffickers.

Many reported being subjected to abuse for weeks or even months in and around Kassala or near the town of Arish in Egypt’s north-eastern Sinai.

JPEG - 23.8 kb
The secretive Red Sea nation, bordering Sudan and Ethiopia, has been dubbed the North Korea of Africa (HRW)

“So far, police and soldiers in Sudan and Egypt helping traffickers kidnap and torture refugees have nothing to fear. Some police in eastern Sudan are so emboldened by their impunity, they hand refugees over to traffickers in police stations”, the report’s author, Gerry Simpson, said.

HRW says both countries are failing to adequately investigate and prosecute traffickers who severely abuse their victims, a breach of their obligations under national and international anti-trafficking laws, international human rights law and national criminal law.

“Egypt and Sudan are giving allegedly corrupt security officials a free pass to work with traffickers,” Simpson said. “The time has long passed for Egypt and Sudan to stop burying their heads in the sand and take meaningful action to end these appalling abuses.”


According to HRW, since 2004 more than 200,000 Eritreans have fled repression in their homeland, which is referred to as the North Korea of Africa.

Such is their desperation that many Eritreans are willing to risk their lives to escape to remote refugee camps in eastern Sudan and Ethiopia, dodging Eritrean border guards, who adhere to a shoot to kill policy against anyone found to be leaving without permission.

Up until 2010, tens of thousands paid smugglers to take them through Sinai to Israel before the latter constructed a 240km fence along its border to keep Eritreans out.

Since then, traffickers have continued to kidnap Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sell them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai.

All of the Eritreans interviewed by HRW who had arrived in Sinai in 2012 said that traffickers had taken them from Sudan to Egypt against their will.

“Over the past three years, Sinai has increasingly represented a dead-end comprised of captivity, cruelty, torture and death”, the report said.

With few other options, hundreds of victims are forced to work for their traffickers as domestic servants or unpaid labourers.

Up until December 2013, Egypt had prosecuted just one person with trafficking offences, while Sudan had launched 14 prosecutions of traffickers and four of police officers in connection with trafficking and torture.


Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 13 February 2014 18:14, by Mohammed Ali 2

    >>>Large ransome ! Do they or their families have " large ransome " to pay ? If they have why do they leave their country and families? They can claim whatever they draw the sympath of other but onour account.

    repondre message

Comment on this article


The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

SOUTH SUDAN: peace or genocide? 2015-10-07 12:59:30 By Richard Moula President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has once again declared a war of genocide and ethnic cleansing on the small ethnic tribe of Moru in Western Equatoria. As from 16th (...)

G-10 critique of establishment order is a complete baloney 2015-10-07 12:59:22 By Gordon Buay Muolana John Luk must be joking to argue that the Establishment Order that created the 28 states violated South Sudan Transitional Constitution without admitting that the (...)

Why rejecting creation of more states in South Sudan? 2015-10-05 16:31:37 By Peter Gai Manyuon South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has unilaterally decreed expansion of the current Ten (10) states to 28 federal states in the country in an unexpected move announced on (...)


Latest Press Releases

S. Sudan civil society groups to the 28 states issue to constitutional body 2015-10-08 17:26:10 South Sudan Civil Society Organizations Submission on the Creation of 28 States in the Republic of South Sudan Press Statement For immediate Release 8th October 2015 Following the announcement (...)

Sudan Democracy First Group Statement on The International Day for Democracy 2015-10-01 22:18:58 22 September 2015 Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) commemorated on 15 September 2015 the International Day for Democracy, which the United Nations (UN) marks as a day to encourage governments (...)

Ambassador Buay congratulates South Sudanese diplomats for blocking sanctions 2015-09-19 00:20:30 SOUTH SUDAN DIPLOMATS IN MOSCOW SHOULD BE CONGRATULATED FOR PERSUADING THE FEDERATION OF RUSSIA TO BLOCK SANCTIONS For Immediate Release 9/18/2015 The people of South Sudan are extremely (...)


Copyright © 2003-2015 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.