July 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) –The European Union (EU) mission in Sudan along with the Norwegian embassy issued a joint statement on Wednesday expressing concern over the government crackdown on political figures, activists and journalists.
"The EU heads of mission and the ambassador of Norway in Khartoum are deeply concerned about the ongoing detention and condition of opposition party members, youth activists, human rights defenders and journalists in Sudan. We strongly urge the Government of Sudan to guarantee the peaceful exercise of the freedoms of expression, association and assembly,” the statement reads.
The press release specifically mentioned the cases of the Sudanese Congress Party chief Ibrahim al-Sheikh and his party members
Al-Sheikh was detained last month after criticising the Rapid Support Force (RSF) government militia and accusing it of committing abuses against civilians in war zones.
“Tajelsir Jaafar, Mohamed Saleh and Moamar Musa Mohamed arrested near the University of Khartoum on 12 May 2014 and currently held without charge in the NISS [National Intelligence and Security Services] premises in Khartoum, alongside other youth activists”.
The EU called on Khartoum “to either initiate legal procedures without delay or release the detained immediately”.
“We have further received reports that some of the political activists have been subjected to ill-treatment and torture and call on the Government to ensure their physical and mental integrity and to respect the human rights of detainees in Sudanese prisons and detention facilities. Violations should be investigated and the responsible institutions and persons held to account”.
The statement also noted continued obstacles to the activities of civil society and non-profit organisations such as Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre.
“We regret the increasingly shrinking space for rights-based organisations, in particular those promoting women’s rights and youth empowerment. We expect the authorities to ensure that civil society organisations can operate freely, contribute to the development of Sudan and participate actively in the national dialogue announced by president Bashir."
Despite the launch of the national dialogue process by the Sudanese president last January and his promise of allowing more freedoms, the government has intensified its censorship of newspapers by either suspension or shutting down the entire media houses.
It also arrested opposition leaders including the head of the National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi last May. He was released a month later after his party issued a subtle apology.