(19 August 2014) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) has documented the death of a third detainee in custody in Port Sudan after he was flogged and detained under public order laws. On 10 August Jilani Mohamed Ahmed Abdul Rasul, (m), 24 years of age, and a member of the Beja tribe, died in Port Sudan prison where he was serving a one month sentence of imprisonment after being subjected to 40 lashes as a penalty for the consumption of alcohol. Prior to his transfer to prison he had been held for one night on 22 July at the Diem Mayo public order police station in Port Sudan. His death follows the deaths in early August of two other detainees who had been held in hot and crowded cells at the same police station and then subjected to forty lashes each.
Mr. Rasul was arrested on 22 July 2014 and convicted without legal representation the following day, 23 July 2014, under article 78 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code for the consumption of alcohol. Appearing before Judge Hashim Ishag at the public order court in Port Sudan, Mr. Rasul was sentenced to forty lashes, implemented immediately, and one month of imprisonment. Following the implementation of the flogging penalty, he was transferred to Port Sudan prison, where he died on 10 August.
Mr. Rasul’s family reported that he had no known medical conditions prior to his arrest, although Sudanese courts do not order medical examinations before lashing penalties are implemented. The coronor’s report stated that the cause of death was a severe drop in his blood circulation which, according to medical sources, can be caused by heatstroke resulting from exposure to high temperatures, together with a lack of fresh air or drinking water or both.
While the circumstances leading to the deaths of the three men following their detention by public order authorities in Port Sudan remain unclear and need further investigation, medical sources have indicated to ACJPS that they may be related to the extremely poor conditions at the public order police station where the three men were held and the flogging penalties that were implemented. Post-mortems in all three cases indicated stated that the cause of death was a sudden drop in blood circulation. The Diem Mayo Public Order police station in Port Sudan is consistently over-crowded, and meals are irregular, according to former detainees. The temperatures in the cells can reach over 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). One cell, designed to hold 25 individuals, held approximately 70 detainees when Mr. Hussein Hadab, who died on 3 August and Mr. Khamis Koko, who died on 5 August, were detained. In the week of 28 June, the beginning of the Eid holiday, scores of detainees were held in the police facility, awaiting trial, for up to six days until court sessions resumed later in the week. 35 detainees were tried immediately after the Eid holiday.
Across Sudan, individuals accused of public order crimes, which includes article 152 of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code (indecent or immoral acts), are not guaranteed access to legal representation and are often subjected to summary trials, raising concerns related to the right to a fair trial. Judges have the discretion to set the amount of fine and amount of imprisonment. The punishments frequently imposed in such cases, particularly whipping, are incompatible with the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. In May 2014 ACJPS documented three cases in Omdurman in which women were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment and fines, without legal representation, for the sale of alcohol. Their convictions rested solely on the testimony of the arresting public order police officers.
ACJPS has also documented several instances of floggings of women for “indecent and immoral dress”. In anti-regime protests that occurred throughout Sudan in September 2013, a group of eight demonstrators was sentenced by Omdurman Central Criminal Court without legal counsel to twenty lashes under articles 67 (disturbance of public peace) and 77 (public nuisance) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code. The sentence was carried out immediately. In addition to investigating the circumstances leading to the deaths of the three men, ACJPS calls on the Government of Sudan to:
- Immediately investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Jilani Mohamed Ahmed Abdul Rasul, Hussein Hadab and Khamis Koko.
- Urgently address the reported high temperatures and over-crowding in Port Sudan police custody facilities and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all detainees.
- Allow access to detention facilities by the National Human Rights Commission and the Advisory Council for Human Rights.
- Uphold the rights of the accused in all criminal cases to receive a fair trial and adequate legal representation in accordance with Sudanese and international law;
- Immediately stop imposing flogging penalties and all other forms of corporal punishment, such as stoning and amputations, and bring Sudanese laws in line with Sudan’s international law commitments to prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Investigate prison and police cell conditions throughout Sudan, particularly any allegations of overcrowding, lack of appropriate health care, and lack of food. Similar grievances raised across Sudan’s prisons should be addressed, and appropriate independent complaint mechanisms established.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Sudan has made a commitment to an absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In 1997, the UN Human Rights Committee called for Sudan to abolish flogging, amputation, and stoning because they are incompatible with Sudan’s obligations under the ICCPR. The government of Sudan did not comply.
Sudan is also a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In the case of Doebbler v Sudan, concerning the use of flogging as a punishment in Sudan, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights ruled that: “there is no right for the government of a country to apply physical violence to individuals for offences. Such a right would be tantamount to sanctioning State sponsored torture,” contrary to article 5 of the African Charter.
ACJPS monitoring of prison conditions has revealed that prisons in Sudan often suffer from severe shortages in food supplies, overcrowding, and lack of appropriate medical and other care facilities. This is exacerbated by an increasing prison population and low prison budgets.
Contact: Katherine Perks, Programme Director, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), in Kampala on + +256 (0)775072136, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.