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Photo from Al Hurriyat newspaper
Photo from Al Hurriyat newspaper

Urgent safety concern for 14 doctors held incommunicado and at risk of torture following strike

(10 November 2016) Since 31 October, fourteen doctors participating in a strike coordinated by the Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee (SDCC) have been detained incommunicado without any known charges by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Twelve are currently being held in Khartoum Bahri at the Political Department of the NISS offices close to Shendi Bus Station. Two others have been detained outside Khartoum: Dr. Hussam Elamin Badawi Khalifa, the national coordinator of the SDCC, is being held at the NISS headquarters in El Obeid, North Kordofan state and Dr. Emad Mohamed Mahmoud Ali, the local coordinator of the SDCC in El Geneina, West Darfur is being held incommunicado in an unknown place.

At least 49 other doctors participating in the strike across Sudan have also been summoned by the NISS since 27 October, and ordered to report daily to various NISS offices. Several of them have also been threatened with dismissal from their jobs at state owned hospitals.

The SDCC, an independent professional body representing doctors, called a strike on 6 October in response to concerns over the physical safety of doctors working in hospitals, in addition to grievances concerning pay, working conditions and inadequate funding for medical equipment. Physical attacks on doctors working in hospitals have increasingly been reported as a problem by medical professionals. Doctors only performed life-saving and emergency services during the strike.

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has serious concerns for the safety and well-being of the 14 doctors detained without charge or access to their lawyers, family members or medical assistance. There is particular concern for the safety of Dr. Emad Mohamed Mahmoud, who was arrested on 31 October whilst he was performing surgery at El Geneina hospital in West Darfur, following an armed raid on the hospital by NISS officers the previous day. He was released but later re-arrested, and reported that he had been beaten during the first arrest. Authorities have refused to disclose his whereabouts.

ACJPS calls on the Government of Sudan to immediately guarantee the safety of all 14 detainees held by the NISS, grant them immediate and unequivocal access to their lawyers and family members, and release them in the absence of valid legal charges consistent with international standards. The lack of access for lawyers and family members to the doctors detained in NISS custody, together with the well-documented use by the NISS of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, gives rise to serious concerns for their safety. Under the 2010 National Security Act, detainees can be held for up to four and a half months without judicial review.

ACJPS also condemns the repeated summoning that dozens of doctors have been subjected to by the NISS throughout Sudan. ACJPS views this as a form of harassment and intimidation intended to stop Sudanese doctors from striking, thereby restricting their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Background

The initial strike called on 6 October lasted eight days, until a resolution was reached between the SDCC, Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman and Health Minister Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, with authorities promising to introduce legislation to improve work environments within hospitals for doctors and trainees, and ensure the safety of medical professionals.

An intention to re-launch the strike for two days on 2 and 3 November was announced on 27 October, with the SDCC claiming that their complaints had not been addressed and the legislation promised by the authorities had not yet been introduced.

The SDCC is an independent body organising the strike. All doctors in Sudan belong to the Sudanese Doctors’ Union, a state-controlled regulatory body which issues licenses to doctors in Sudan. Though there are no exact figures, the vast majority of doctors are employed at state hospitals.

The last doctors’ strike in Sudan took place in 2010 and was organized by the Sudanese Doctor’s Strike Committee (SDSC). In June 2010, two leaders of the SDSC reported being temporarily detained by the NISS and subjected to torture. They were re-arrested when they publicly testified that they had been tortured by the NISS. Throughout the strike a number of doctors were detained, including Dr. Ahmed Abdulwahab Alabwaby, who is currently detained at the NISS office close to Shendi bus station in Khartoum and is the former chair of the SDSC. Dr. Alabwaby was detained from 1 – 25 June 2010.

Further information

From 31 October – 7 November, twelve doctors in Khartoum, one doctor in El Obeid, North Kordofan, and one doctor in El Geneina, West Darfur were arrested by the NISS.

El Obeid, North Kordofan

  1. Hussam Elamin Badawi Khalifa, (m), 27 years of age. Dr. Khalifa is the official national spokesperson of the SDCC. Dr. Khalifa was arrested from the Doctors’ Residence on 1 November 2016. He is currently being held without charge or access to his family and lawyers at NISS headquarters in El Obeid.

Khartoum

All twelve detainees in Khartoum are being held at the political section of the NISS nearby to Shendi Bus Station.

  1. Hassan Karar Mamoun Karar, (m), 30 years of age and a member of the SDCC. Dr. Karar is a surgeonhartoum Teaching hospital. Dr. Karar was arrested by the NISS on 1 November.
  2. Omar Ahmed Salih, (m), 29 years of age, Secretary General of the SDCC. Dr. Salih is a general physician at the Al Jazeeraurgery Centre. Dr. Salih was detained immediately after being summoned by the NISS in Khartoum Bahri on 1 November.
  3. Mohamed Abdullatief Alamin, (m), 29 years of age, President of the Central Council of the SDCC. Dr Alamin is an abdominal specialistt Khartoum Bahri hospital. Dr. Alamin was detained immediately after being summoned by the NISS on 1 November.
  4. Mohamed Elmotaba Alsideeq Alamin, (m), 28 years of age. Dr. Alamin is an abdominal specialist. Dr. Alamin was detained immediately after being summoned by the NISS on 1 November.
  5. Abdalla Gorishi, (m), 30 years of age, Vice President of Emergency Medicine at the Omdurman Hospital. Dr. Gorishi was first detained at Abu Anga NISS offices and then transferred to the NISS office close to Shendi Bus Station on an unknown date between 31 October – 7 November.
  6. Jeehad Abdulmonem Abdulmajeed, (f), 29 years of age. Dr. Abdulmajeed is a pediatriciant Khartoum Teaching Hospital. Dr. Abdulmajeed was detained on 1 November 2016.
  7. Ahmed Abdulwahab Alabwaby, (m), 43 years of age, psychiatrist. Dr. Alabwaby is the former chair of the Sudanese Doctor’s Strike Committee which led a strike in 2010. Dr. Alabwaby was arrested from his home in Atabara town, River Nile State, on 1 November and transferred to Khartoum.
  8. Mohamed Bashier Helalli, (m). Dr. Helalli is a surgeon at Ibrahim Malik Hospital. Dr Helalli was arrested from his home in the Al Amarat neighourhood of Khartoum on 3 November 2016 and detained at the NISS offices close to Shendi bus station.
  9. Nasir Shaga Nasir, (m). No further details are available on the circumstances of his arrest.
  10. Ahmed Elsheikh, (m). No further details are available on the circumstances of his arrest.
  11. Sid Genat, (m). No further details are available on the circumstances of his arrest.
  12. Abdelmoiz Bakhit Elamin, (m). Dr Elamin was arrested from the Police Hospital in Khartoum on 7 November 2016.

El Geneina, West Darfur

  1. Emad Mohamed Mahmoud Ali, (m), 27 years of age and the local coordinator of the SDCC in El Geneina. Dr. Emad was originally arrested from El Geneina Hospital on 31 October whilst he was performing surgery. He was later released but has been subjected to re-arrest twice. During his first interrogation on 31 October, Dr. Emad was beaten with a wooden baton when he refused to give his mobile telephone to NISS investigators and answer questions concerning the coordination of the strike. At 10pm on 3 November, Dr. Emad was arrested for the third time by armed NISS officers. He is currently being held incommunicado in an unknown place and there are serious concerns for his safety.

Dr. Emad’s arrest followed the arrest and interrogation of one of his colleagues, Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud, a gynecologist and member of the SDCC, who was arrested at 10pm on 30 October at the El Geneina Hospital by three plain-clothed and armed NISS officers who raided the hospital, entering patients’ rooms, searching for doctors who had participated in the strike. He was held in a cell until 2pm the following day, when he was interrogated on the coordination of the SDCC strike and on the whereabouts of Dr. Eman. During the interrogation, he was subjected to beatings and threatened with death. He was ordered to report to the NISS if he came into contact with Dr. Emad Mohamed Mahmoud Ali, the coordinator of the SDCC in El Geneina. Dr. Mahmoud was released at 5pm on 31 October.

Summoning of doctors to NISS offices around the country

At least 49 doctors have been summoned by NISS from hospitals throughout Sudan since 27 October. Their names are on file with ACJPS. Doctors typically have been summoned and interrogated about their role in the strike, political affiliations, and the coordination of the strike, before being released and ordered to report back daily. Those working in state hospitals have been threatened with dismissal. When reporting back, the doctors are forced to sit for hours in the reception without interrogation, effectively blocking them from participating in the strike as well as providing medical care for their patients since the most recent strike ended on 3 November 2016.

Contact

Mossaad Mohamed Ali, (English and Arabic) ACJPS Executive Director, info@acjps.org, +256 779584542.

Emily Cody, (English), ACJPS Programme Officer, info@acjps.org, +256 788695068.