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Amnesty International urges Sudan to release detained doctors

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Striking doctors meet at Khartoum Hospital on 20 oct 2016 (ST Photo)
November 8, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Amnesty International on Tuesday urged the Sudanese government to release ten doctors recently arrested and to halt security summons to the striking members of the independent doctors union, Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD).

On 6 October, Sudanese doctors staged a strike and refused non-emergency treatments to patients to protest the poor working conditions, lack of medicines and protection of doctors after increasing attacks on medical staff by frustrated patients and their families.

On 13 October, the CCED called off the strike following government pledges to introduce a bill to the parliament to protect doctors, improve training conditions for registrars and improve work environment in hospitals.

However, the CCSD last Tuesday announced resumption of a two-day strike every week during November, saying the government didn’t honour its commitments.

This time National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has detained and summoned dozens of the striking doctors.

In statement to media, Amnesty International pointed that the whereabouts of ten medical doctors remain unknown after being arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence Service (NISS) between 30 October and 6 November.

“The detained doctors are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The ten were part of a group of 29 doctors arrested then released without charge on 29 October,” stressed the statement.

Amnesty international statement further pointed that the doctors were questioned by NISS for several hours about their role and activities in relation to the strike and about their political affiliations.

The human rights body statement went to say that, Abdallah Gorushi, Ahmed Alabwabi, Hasan Karar, Husam Alamin, Jihad Abdel Monim, Mohamed Abdullatif, Mohamed Bashir Hilali, Mohamed Elmujtaba, Nasir Shaga Nasir and Omer Ahmed Saleh were arrested again between 30 October and 6 November.

“The other 19 doctors who were released on 29 October are required to report every day to the NISS offices from 8am to 10pm,” added the statement.

Amnesty International has further called on the Sudanese authorities to immediately disclose the whereabouts of the detained doctors; release them immediately unless they are promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and to ensure that the ten doctors are granted regular access to their family and medical treatment.

It is worth noting that NISS has detained several leaders from CCSD including its chairman Dr. Hussein Karar, CCSD spokesperson Dr. Husam Badawi, CCSD member Dr. Omar Salih and the general surgeon Dr. Ahmed al-Sheikh.

Earlier CCSD pointed that NISS has summoned 42 doctors across Sudan.

In a related development the Sudanese presidency has denounced doctors’ strike, saying it is a pressure card used by doctors to respond to their demands.

Speaking at the National Blood Transfusion Workshop in Khartoum on Tuesday, Vice President Hassabo Abd al-Rahman pointed that medicine is a humane profession and it is not wise to use it as a pressure card.

“Government allocates $ 155 million annually to provide free of charge service to emergency, heart, cancer and kidney patients,” said Hassabo, adding that health services sector is heading on the right direction.

(ST)

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