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Urgent safety concern for activist Sandra Kodouda kidnapped in Sudan

(13 April 2015) The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) is deeply concerned for the safety of Sudanese activist Dr. Sandra Faroug Kodouda. Dr. Kodouda was forcibly taken from her car by a group of unidentified men in Omdurman, Khartoum, at around 5pm on Sunday 12 April. She was reportedly on her way to a meeting at the National Umma Party headquarters. Her car was found abandoned nearby shortly afterwards with the key still in the ignition. Her phone has been switched off.

Dr. Kodouda was forcibly taken from her car whilst speaking to a friend on the phone. The men who stopped her car were overheard over the telephone line refusing to show their identification when she requested it and instructing her to switch off her phone. Family members found her car abandoned opposite the Almourada school on Almourada street in Omdurman, with the keys still in the ignition, thirty minutes afterwards. Her family filed a criminal case, alleging kidnapping, at the Omdurman Central Police Station. They also completed a form provided to them at the Central NISS offices in Africa street, Khartoum. The police and the NISS had no record of her detention and instructed family members to return in two days, on Tuesday 14 April, to seek further information.Dr. Kodouda has chronic reactive hypoglycaemia which requires a special dietary regime and medical attention.

Dr. Kodouda is a well-known and outspoken activist on social and political issues in Sudan who has been detained previously by the NISS on account of her peaceful activism. She is also a member of the Youth Committee against the Building of Dal and Kajabar Dams. During country-wide demonstrations in September – October 2013, Dr. Kodouda took part in peaceful demonstrations for detainees’ families outside the NISS headquarters.

ACJPS calls on the Government of Sudan to immediately take steps to investigate the incident and establish her whereabouts. If she is in custody, she should be protected from ill-treatment and guaranteed immediate and regular access to relatives, a lawyer and a medical doctor.

Background

Dr. Sandra Faroug Kodouda is 31 years of age and is married with two children under the age of five. She was briefly detained in July 2012 by the NISS in connection with her calls for the release of youth activist Rudwan Daoud who had been detained on 3 July 2012 by the NISS in Al Haj Yousef, Khartoum Bahri, in connection with his participation in peaceful political protests. He was subsequently transferred to police custody and on 13 August convicted by Al Haj Yousef Court under Article 69 (disturbance of public peace) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code for which he paid a fine. Immediately after leaving the Court, Mr. Daoud was re-arrested and forced into a car by NISS agents. He was held incommunicado for 72 hours before being released on 16 August.

According to Sudanese media reports Dr. Kodouda was also detained briefly by the NISS in August 2014 along with 15 other activists from the “No to Women’s Oppression” initiative during a vigil they held in front of Omdurman women’s prison in Khartoum. The group had been demanding the release from detention of the deputy chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP), Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi.

When she was seventeen years of age, Sandra Kodouda was subjected to a serious physical assault at her family home in Khartoum. Human Rights Watch reported that on 31 October 1999, Sudanese academic Dr. Farouq M. Kadouda, who was active in opposition politics, found his teenage daughter beaten and unconscious on the floor of his home with a note next to her body stating that the attack was to be taken as a warning. In the months prior to the attack, Dr. Kadouda had received numerous threats of violence and warnings of retaliation should he continue to speak out against the government and advocate democratization in the Sudan.

Over the past year the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, student and political activists, journalists and political opposition figures has continued unabated in Sudan, against a backdrop of ongoing restrictions on free expression and peaceful political activities.

The NISS retains wide powers of arrest, detention, search and seizure, and these powers are routinely used to target political opponents for prolonged detention without charge. The National Security Act of 2010 allows detention for up to four-and-a half months without charge or judicial review. The NISS routinely denies detainees’ access to lawyers or family visits, and subjects detainees to ill-treatment and torture. In recent years the NISS has also routinely failed to immediately acknowledge detentions carried out by its personnel. It has become standard practice for families seeking to establish the whereabouts of detainees to be provided no further information and instructed to return in a couple of days.

To view the Arabic version of this alert click here

Contact:

Katherine Perks (English), +256 775072136 / info@acjps.org.

Mohamed Badawi (Arabic), +256 783 693 689 / info@acjps.org.

This post is also available in: Arabic