The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar


Title:  Sudan Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                              SUDAN 
 
 
After the 1989 coup that overthrew Sudan's democratically elected 
government, the military assumed power under Lt. General Omar Hassan Al-
Bashir and his National Salvation Revolution Command Council (RCC).  
Bashir and the RCC suspended the 1985 Constitution, abrogated press 
freedoms, and disbanded all political parties and trade unions.  In 1993 
the RCC dissolved itself and appointed Lt. General Bashir President. 
However, since 1989 real power has rested with Hassan Al-Turabi and his 
National Islamic Front (NIF).  NIF control over government operations 
was further solidified with the end of the RCC, and NIF members and 
supporters held most key positions in the Government, security forces, 
judiciary, academia, and the media.  Although legislative authority 
theoretically rests with the government-appointed Transitional National 
Assembly (TNA), the new Government maintained the RCC's suspension of 
the 1985 Constitution and continued to restrict most civil liberties. 
 
In addition to the regular police and the Sudan People's Armed Forces 
(SPAF), the Government maintains an external security organ, an internal 
security organ, an Islamic militia, known as the Popular Defense Forces 
(PDF), and an Islamic police force, the Popular Police, whose mission 
includes enforcing proper social behavior, including restrictions on 
alcohol and "immodest dress."  Members of the security forces committed 
numerous human rights abuses. 
 
Civil war, economic mismanagement, over 3 million internally displaced 
persons, and a refugee influx from neighboring countries have devastated 
Sudan's mostly agricultural economy.  Exports of gum arabic, livestock, 
and meat accounted for over 50 percent of Sudan's 1995 export earnings.  
Reforms aimed at privatizing state-run firms and stimulating private 
investment failed to revive a moribund economy saddled with massive 
military expenditures. 
 
The civil war in Sudan continued into its 12th year, resulting in the 
deaths of more than a million and a half Sudanese.  Neither side has the 
ability to win the war on the battlefield.  The number of human rights 
violations decreased in mid-1995 following a limited 4-month cease-fire 
in the South brokered by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and a 
reduction in fighting between southern rebel factions prior to the fall 
of 1995.  However, efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict 
by Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea under the auspices of the 
Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), aided by 
a newly created Dutch-led Friends of IGADD, remained stalemated. 
 
The dismal human rights situation showed little improvement.  Both the 
Government and insurgents committed serious human rights abuses.  
Government forces carried out massacres, extrajudicial killings, 
kidnapings, forced labor, slavery, and forced conscription, on a broader 
scale than opposition forces.  A myriad of official and secret 
government security forces routinely harassed, detained, and tortured 
opponents or suspected opponents of the Government with impunity.  
Prison conditions are harsh, and the judiciary is largely subservient to 
the Government.  The Government continued to restrict most human rights, 
including the rights to free speech, press, assembly, association, 
religion, privacy, and movement.  Citizens do not have the right or the 
ability peacefully to change their government.  In the context of the 
Islamization and Arabization drive, pressure--including forced 
Islamization--on non-Muslims remained strong.  Fears of Arabization and 
Islamization and the imposition of Shari'a (Islamic law) fueled support 
for the southern insurgency.  Discrimination and violence against women 
and abuse of children continued, and government restrictions on worker 
rights persisted.   
 
Levels of overall cooperation with U.N.-sponsored relief operations 
deteriorated during the year.  Both the SPAF/PDF and rebel factions 
periodically obstructed the flow of humanitarian assistance to affected 
populations, and there were problems with relief flights in the south. 
 
The rebels continued to restrict most human rights in the areas under 
their control and were responsible for a massacre, extrajudicial 
killings, kidnapings, and forced conscription.  The Sudanese People's 
Liberation Army (SPLA) did not take action to implement its 1994 
decision to create civilian control over its military and humanitarian 
wings and to institute rule of law in areas it controls. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
Official and unofficial government forces committed an undetermined 
number of political killings of persons suspected of belonging to or 
collaborating with the insurgent SPLA.  In May there were unconfirmed 
reports that Government forces in Juba rounded up and summarily executed 
approximately 40 soldiers loyal to former SPLA commander William Nyuon, 
after Nyuon defected back to the SPLA.   
 
Credible and independent sources indicate that soldiers of the SPLA 
participated in a massacre of more than 200 Nuer villagers in the 
Ganyliel area of southern Sudan on July 30.  In response to pressure 
from the international community and nongovernmental organizations 
(NGO's), the SPLA announced in August that it would investigate the 
incident; at year's end, the SPLA had not yet begun an investigation.  
There were no other substantiated reports of extrajudicial or political 
killings, possibly due to the limited access to the war zones by outside 
observers.   
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
The Government was responsible for continued arrests and subsequent 
disappearances of persons suspected of supporting the rebels in 
government-controlled areas in the south and Nuba Mountains.  Awad Al-
Karim Gharbawi, a retired military officer, was arrested in September 
trying to cross the Sudanese border, after having been refused an exit 
visa to join his wife in Namibia.  He remains unaccounted for, along 
with two other military officers arrested at about the same time.   
 
Scores of persons arrested by government forces in Juba in 1992, 
including two local U.S. Agency for International Development Employees, 
Dominic Morris and Chaplain Lako, remained unaccounted for, and most are 
believed dead.  However, reliable reports indicated that at least a few 
of those arrested in Juba in 1992 were being held in a Khartoum prison; 
the Government has stated it has no knowledge of their whereabouts.  The 
whereabouts of Sudanese medical personnel Samuel Garang, Mohamed Nowar 
Aso, and Mirghani Kafi, last seen in police custody in 1990-91, remained 
unknown at year's end.   
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Government's official and unofficial security forces continued 
routinely to beat and torture suspected opponents.  For example, in one 
case, four detainees were made to lift heavy chairs over their heads for 
hours on end.  They were whipped if their pace slackened.  Similarly, 
when former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi was arrested in May, he was 
reportedly forced to sit in the sun in temperatures reaching 110 degrees 
Fahrenheit for refusing to answer questions (see Section 1.d.).  There 
were credible reports that security officials tortured some detainees 
following large demonstrations in September in Khartoum (see Section 
1.d.).   
 
In mid-September armed security elements raided the home of Mohamed Ali 
Hamid Omer and beat a group of former government officials who were 
visiting with sticks and water hoses (see Section 1.d.).  They were then 
taken to security offices where they were beaten again and interrogated.  
After being detained for 36 hours, the men were released with an 
apology.  No reason was given for their detention.  In February NIF 
security officials beat relatives of executed coup plotters at a 
demonstration (see Section 2.b.).   
 
The number of reports and perhaps incidents of torture in "ghost 
houses," places where security forces detained government opponents 
incommunicado often for months, decreased perhaps because the tightened 
hold of the NIF regime meant less need to intimidate opposition groups.  
However, reliable sources report that most ghost house inmates have been 
transferred to the normal prison system, particularly Khartoum's main 
Kober Prison.  The Government has removed the west wing of Kober Prison 
from the jurisdiction of the Prison Service and placed it under the 
supervision of the security services.  Persons detained in the west wing 
of Kober Prison are held incommunicado.  While ordinary prison wardens 
are theoretically accountable to courts of law for the abuses they 
perpetrate, security forces are not.  Despite the widespread use of 
torture, the Government has never publicly disciplined any security 
official for torture.   
 
Sudan's 1991 Criminal Act, based on Shari'a law, prescribes specific 
"hudud" punishments, including amputation, stoning, and lashing, for 
some offenses.  The courts did not impose sentences involving amputation 
in 1995.  The Government routinely meted out lashings, most often to 
persons convicted of brewing or consuming alcohol, following trials that 
did not meet internationally accepted standards of fairness (see Section 
l.e.).  In August five Nuban young women were sentenced to death for 
apostasy, because they had converted to Christianity.  At year's end, it 
was not clear if the sentences had been carried out.   
 
Credible and recurrent reports state that police personnel sometimes 
raped female detainees and that both government and insurgent forces in 
the field raped women.   
 
It is widely believed that the SPLA and the Southern Sudan Independence 
Movement (SSIM) also tortured prisoners in their custody, although the 
lack of access to rebel-controlled areas made it difficult to verify 
these allegations.   
 
Conditions in official prisons were harsh but generally not life 
threatening.  Almost all prisons were built before independence in 1956 
and are poorly maintained.  Many lack basic facilities like toilets or 
showers.  Health care is primitive and food inadequate.  Minors are 
often held with adults.  Female prisoners are kept separately from men, 
and rape in prison (as opposed to police stations) does not appear to be 
a major problem.  Prison officials arbitrarily denied visits by family 
members.   
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
The 1991 Criminal Code does not include provisions concerning the length 
of detention of security and other detainees, and the Government 
routinely detained persons without charge and without reference to the 
judiciary.  Under the 1992 National Security Act, the Government may 
detain a suspect for interrogation for up to 72 hours.  This is 
renewable for up to 1 month with "justification," a term not further 
defined. 
 
Also under the 1992 National Security Act, the President has the power 
to authorize "precautionary detention" for up to 3 months "to preserve 
the general security," but in practice this authority rests with 
subordinate officials.  A person detained under this provision 
theoretically must be notified of the reasons for detention within these 
3 months.  The President may extend detention for 3 more months if a 
magistrate approves the extension.  In practice, these legal provisions 
are routinely ignored, and the authorities continued to detain opponents 
indefinitely. 
 
The law allows for bail, except for those accused of crimes punishable 
by death or life imprisonment.  In theory, the Government provides legal 
counsel for indigents in the case of crimes punishable by death or life 
imprisonment.  However, courts sometimes fail to inform defendants of 
this right.  Moreover, in some cases counsel is only allowed to advise 
the defendant and may not address the court.  Thus, despite some legal 
protections, detainees have few rights and are often subject to 
arbitrary, and in many cases, incommunicado detention. 
 
The Government's secrecy and arbitrary detention practices made it 
impossible to know the exact number of political detainees and 
prisoners.  Although the Government continued to pick up and detain 
suspected opponents across the country, the number of new arrests 
decreased compared to previous years.  In May former Prime Minister 
Sadiq Al-Mahdi was arrested after giving a speech critical of the 
Government and detained incommunicado without charge for 3 months.  In 
August the Government released Al-Mahdi along with 31 other political 
detainees.  Other detainees may have been released throughout the year.  
The Government claimed that there were no remaining political detainees.  
Estimates of the present number of political detainees ranged from 
several score to a few hundred. 
 
The authorities picked up numerous other lower ranking opposition 
figures and others throughout the year and held some for several months.  
For example, in May and June government security forces arrested over 
100 members of the Sudanese opposition and a handful of underground 
Communist Party leaders.  In mid-September, security forces beat men 
gathered at the house of Mohamed Ali Hamid Omer, took them to security 
offices, beat and interrogated them there, and detained them for 36 
hours.  They were released with an apology but without an explanation 
for their detention (see Section 1.a.).  During 3 days of antigovernment 
demonstrations in September, which were sparked by the detention of four 
students who had heckled the President during a July 29 speech at 
Khartoum University, the Government detained and interrogated an 
estimated 3,000 persons, including precoup-era labor leaders; most of 
the detainees were released after a short time.  Credible reports 
indicate that torture was used during the interrogations.   
 
In another incident in September, a group of worshipers in a mosque in a 
Khartoum suburb were arrested by security personnel and detained because 
the mosque's imam had delivered a sermon critical of NIF leader Hassan 
Al-Turabi.   
 
The Government also continued its practice of de facto arrest of 
suspected opponents by requiring them to report to security offices in 
the morning and wait all day for several days in a row.  Those targeted 
for such harassment were unable to earn a livelihood.  The Government 
also detained temporarily international relief workers (see Sections 
1.g. and 2.d.).   
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The judiciary is not independent and is largely subservient to the 
Government.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, formerly elected by 
sitting judges, is now appointed (as the senior judge in the Sudanese 
judicial service, he also controls the judiciary).  Since 1989 the 
authorities have replaced hundreds of judges considered ideologically 
unsuitable.  Most new judges have ties to the NIF and favor strict 
application of Islamic (Shari'a) law; many have little or no legal 
training.  The RCC banned the respected Sudanese Bar Association in 1989 
and replaced it with a government-appointed committee.  Human rights 
monitors have pointed out that the Government continued to harass, 
detain, and torture members of the legal profession it viewed as 
political opponents. 
 
Sudan's judicial system includes four types of courts:  regular courts, 
both criminal and civil; special mixed security courts; military courts; 
and tribal courts in rural areas to resolve disputes over land and water 
rights and family matters.  The 1991 Criminal Act governs criminal 
cases, whereas the 1983 Civil Transactions Act still applies to most 
civil cases.  Military trials, whose proceedings are secret and brief, 
do not meet international standards. 
 
Trials in regular courts nominally meet international standards of legal 
protections.  For instance, the accused normally have the right to 
counsel, and the courts should provide free legal counsel for indigent 
defendants accused of crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment.  
In practice, however, these legal protections are unevenly applied. 
 
In 1989 the Special Courts Act created special three-person security 
courts to deal with a wide range of offenses, including violations of 
constitutional decrees, emergency regulations, some sections of the 
Penal Code, as well as drug and currency offenses.  Special courts, on 
which both military and civilian judges sit, handle most security 
related cases.  Attorneys may advise defendants as "friends of the 
court" but normally may not address the court.  Lawyers complain that 
they are sometimes granted access to court documents too late to prepare 
an effective defense.  Sentences are usually severe and implemented at 
once.  Death sentences, however, are referred to the Chief Justice and 
the Head of State.  Defendants may file appellate briefs with the Chief 
Justice. 
 
The Government officially exempts the 10 southern states, whose 
population is mostly non-Muslim, from parts of the 1991 Criminal Act.  
But the Act permits the possible future application of Shari'a law in 
the south, if the local state assemblies (see Section 3) so decide.  
Moreover, in 1993 the Government transferred all non-Muslim judges from 
the south to the north, replacing them with Muslim judges.  However, 
there were no reports that hudud punishments, other than lashings, were 
carried out by the courts in government-controlled areas of the south.  
Fear of the imposition of Shari'a law remained a key issue in the 
rebellion. 
 
Parts of the south and the Nuba mountains fell outside of effective 
judicial procedures and other governmental functions.  According to 
credible reports, government units summarily tried and punished those 
accused of crimes, especially of offenses against civil order.  SPLA-
held areas sometimes relied on traditional justice by village elders.  
The SPLA proclaimed a civilian structure to eliminate the secret and 
basically political trials by military commanders of previous years, but 
at year's end there was no evidence to indicate that such civilian 
trials had been held. 
 
In August the authorities released 18 former officers who had been 
sentenced for alleged coup plotting in 1990 and 1991 and a 1994 bombing.  
According to international human rights NGO's, 7 persons were not 
included in the amnesty.  There was no information available regarding 
possible political prisoners in the south.   
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Government routinely interferes with its citizens' privacy.  
Security forces frequently conducted night searches without warrants.  
They targeted persons suspected of political crimes or, in northern 
Sudan, of distilling or consuming illegal alcoholic beverages. 
 
A wide network of government informants conducted pervasive surveillance 
in schools, universities, markets, workplaces, and neighborhoods.  The 
Government disbanded political parties and prevented citizens from 
forming new political groupings.  The authorities kept key opposition 
figures under frequent surveillance.  The Government also continued its 
practice of summarily dismissing military personnel and other government 
employees whose loyalty was suspect.  Dozens lost their jobs throughout 
the year.  In August the Government set up a committee to review the 
cases of persons who had been summarily dismissed since the 1989 coup.  
However, the review eligibility criteria were such that only 20 percent 
of the cases of those summarily dismissed were eligible.  At year's end, 
little progress had been made in the review process. 
 
Security personnel routinely opened and read mail and monitored 
telephones.  During the first half of the year, the Government enforced 
a ban on unlicensed satellite dishes, but enforcement tapered off later 
in the year.  On July 16, Ahmed Abdalla Akood, a former government 
official, was detained and interrogated for owning a fax machine. 
 
Government-instituted neighborhood "popular committees"-- 
ostensibly a mechanism for political mobilization--served as a means for 
monitoring households.  These committees caused many citizens to be wary 
of neighbors who could report them for "suspicious" activities, 
including "excessive" contact with foreigners.  The committees also 
furnished or withheld documents essential for obtaining an exit visa 
from Sudan.  In high schools, students were sometimes pressured to join 
pro-regime youth groups. 
 
A Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim, but a Muslim woman cannot marry a 
non-Muslim, unless he converts to Islam.  Only Muslims are allowed to 
adopt children (see Section 2.c.).   
 
In March the home of the family of Umma Party Secretary General Omar Nur 
El Dayem was confiscated without prior notice; the eviction may have 
been due, in part, to Nur El Dayem's testimony before the U.S. Congress.   
 
   g.   Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in 
Internal Conflicts 
 
Since the civil war began in 1983, more than 1.5 million people have 
been killed as the result of fighting between the Islamic Government in 
the north and insurgents in southern Sudan.  The civil war continued 
unabated, and all sides involved in the fighting were responsible for 
abuses in violation of humanitarian norms.  At year's end, the 
Government controlled most of Sudan, except for parts of the south and 
the Nuba mountains.  Efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the civil 
war were unsuccessful.  According to the report of the U.N. Special 
Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, on June 21, 1995, an Antanov 
aircraft of the Sudanese forces dropped 22 bombs on Regifi and 
surrounding areas in the Nuba Mountains, killing 6 civilians and 
injuring 12.  Eyewitnesses reported that the bombardment was 
concentrated on a densely populated area, indicating the Government's 
intent to terrorize the civilian population and to force the population 
to flee the area.   
 
Government forces routinely killed rebel soldiers taken prisoner in the 
civil war, and no rebels were reported being held as prisoners of war in 
government-controlled areas.  The SPLA took prisoners of war.  An 
international humanitarian organization was able to visit some of them.  
Government restrictions on flights into southern Sudan during the second 
half of the year, as well as other problems, prevented visits to some 
SPLA held prisoners of war.   
 
There were also instances in which the Government arrested or detained 
international NGO workers.  For example, in May in Pariang a government 
military unit detained two doctors working with the Italian NGO, 
Comitato Collaborazione Medica.  Following several months of 
negotiations with the Government and local military leaders the two 
doctors were released into U.N. custody.  At approximately the same time 
the SPLA released three United Nations workers it had held prisoner in 
Chukudum during the same period.   
 
Both sides routinely displaced and often killed civilians, and committed 
numerous violations of humanitarian law, during their offensive 
operations, most of which were carried out by the Government this year. 
 
The Government also commonly and deliberately targeted aerial bombing 
and militia raids to disperse civilians in displaced persons camps and 
in areas where they had congregated to receive relief supplies.  In 
September the towns of Bideet and Ombassi were bombed resulting in 15 
deaths and 11 wounded.  Also in September a military barge fired 
indiscriminately on villages in the Yomcir area, displacing additional 
people; aerial bombing accompanied the barrage.  In November government 
bombers attacked several towns in Western Equatoria in what appeared to 
be stepped-up efforts to terrorize the populace.   
 
Although government rhetoric supported ending the civil war, the 
Government launched military offensives in the south throughout the 
year.  In March former President Carter negotiated a 2-month cease-fire 
to allow guinea worm eradication activities in the south.  The cease-
fire was extended for an additional 2 months, but the sides would not 
agree to further extensions, and there were violations by both sides 
during the cease-fires.  Other peace initiatives remained stalemated due 
to the intransigence of the various warring parties, whose commitment to 
peace was questionable.  Prospects for a negotiated settlement remained 
slim.  The 1995 dry season offensive campaign began with an initial 
success by Government forces on the southern border, and by an SPLA 
drive in the south toward Juba, the main southern city.  Over all, 
however, the war remains unwinnable by either side.   
 
The SPLA reportedly detained thousands of children as a reservoir of 
recruits (see Sections 5 and 6.c.).   
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Government severely curtails freedom of speech and press.  
Government intimidation and surveillance, fostered in part by an 
informer network, continued to inhibit open, public discussion of 
political issues.  Radio, television, and much of the print media are 
controlled directly by the Government and required to reflect government 
and NIF policies.  However, lively discussions take place in the press 
on domestic issues, especially economic failures.  All journalists, even 
in the privately owned Arabic dailies, practice self-censorship.  Sudan 
television had a permanent military censor to ensure that the news 
reflected official views. 
 
In mid-1993, the Government adopted a new Press Code that called for 
turning the existing state-owned print media into publicly held 
companies.  The Code also allowed the formation of private newspapers.  
Implementation of the Code was slow.  The few publications that issued 
shares were purchased by government ministries and state-owned 
corporations, thus keeping them under government control. 
 
Of the two privately owned dailies, Akhbar Al-Youm followed a 
progovernment line and did not encounter any problems.  The Government 
suspended publication of the other, Al-Rai Al-Akher, for 2 weeks in 
September after its September 20 edition in which two editorials 
questioned government policy and discussed Western Christians' support 
for Sudanese southerners.  Earlier, Al-Rai Al-Akher had published a 
report on police treatment of student protesters during President 
Bashir's July 29 speech at Khartoum University.  The report prompted the 
progovernment Khartoum University Student Union to publicly warn Al-Rai 
Al-Akher of the "consequences" of being biased.  The day the Government 
announced of Al-Rai Al-Akher's suspension, it also announced that two 
previously closed newspapers would be allowed to resume publishing. 
 
The Government often charged that the international, and particularly 
Western, media have an anti-Sudan and anti-Islam bias, and it routinely 
confiscated issues of foreign publications judged hostile to the 
Government.  Although the Government periodically granted foreign 
journalists entry and access to war zones and to a variety of political 
leaders, security forces closely monitored their activities.  All 
journalists, including foreigners, who wish to work in Sudan as 
correspondents are required by law to register with the Government.  The 
Government rejected the applications of some journalists who had 
previously worked for newspapers associated with political parties, 
claiming that they did not have enough experience.  As a result of the 
Government's hostile attitude, many respected journalists who worked in 
the local media before 1989 have quit their jobs and left Sudan. 
 
After the coup, the Government harassed and dismissed many academics 
considered antiregime, and its practice of repressing opposition has had 
a chilling effect on academic debate.  Government security forces 
continued to arrest and detain academics linked with opposition parties.  
The Government continued to use political and ideological criteria 
whenever possible in appointing new faculty.  In the language of a 
government press release, there is an educational revolution occurring 
aimed at "authenticating" knowledge and Arabizising all educational 
institutions.  To link educational objectives to Islamic values, all 
educational institutions were directed to oblige female students to wear 
Islamic dress.   
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The authorities severely restricted these freedoms, permitting only 
government-sponsored gatherings.  The declaration of the state of 
emergency and of martial law on June 30, 1989, effectively eliminated 
the right to assembly.  During 3 days of largely nonviolent, 
antigovernment demonstrations in Khartoum in September at least five 
persons were killed by the security forces who indiscriminately opened 
fire.  The Government arrested approximately 3,000 people, mostly 
students, including demonstration leaders or potential leaders (see 
Section l.d.).  Plainclothes security forces beat students, male and 
female, although many of them had taken no part in the demonstration.  
The Government let it be known that it would disperse any future 
demonstrations by force.  The Government backed up its threats by 
stationing plainclothes members of the NIF security apparatus with AK-
47's in pickup trucks on the main streets of downtown Khartoum.  These 
security forces prevented groups of three or more persons from traveling 
to the downtown area.  Although the Government released most of the 
detained demonstrators after a short time, the Minister of Justice 
announced on September 18 that "more than 15 persons" suspected of 
sabotage operations carried out during the demonstrations would be 
criminally prosecuted. 
 
In February NIF security officials broke up a small demonstration in 
Khartoum by the Martyr's Association, a group of relatives of 28 
officers executed for coup plotting in 1990.  Security forces beat, 
threatened, and verbally abused the leaders of the group; those taken 
into custody were later released.   
 
Northern Muslim opposition groups, which have taken no part in the 
fighting, and southern opposition groups formed an umbrella structure in 
1995, the National Defense Alliance, to coordinate and improve their 
efforts to confront the NIF regime.  One major southern faction, the 
SSIM, did not participate.   
 
Apart from a few indigenous NGO's involved in relief work and sports and 
social clubs, all private associations were controlled by the Government 
or the NIF. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
Although the Government has stated that all religions should be 
respected and that freedom of worship is guaranteed, in practice the 
Government treats Islam as the de facto state religion and has declared 
that Islam must inspire the country's laws, institutions, and policies.  
Various restrictions under the Missionary Societies Act of 1962 limited 
the ability of non-Muslims to practice their religion freely, and the 
1991 Criminal Act made apostasy by Muslims punishable by death.  In 
August five Nuban young women were sentenced to death for apostasy (see 
Section l.c.).  At the end of September, the police in Port Sudan 
arrested 10 persons, including 2 women, for converting to Christianity.  
These persons were still in detention at year's end.  On November 30, a 
Catholic priest was detained while conducting a pastoral visit.  At 
least eight uniformed and plainclothes security officers took him to 
four police stations for questioning about his activities before he was 
released.  He was not told why he was detained nor were charges brought 
against him.   
 
Authorities continued to restrict the activities of non-Muslims, and 
there continued to be reports of harassment and arrest for religious 
beliefs and activities.  The law forbids proselytizing of Muslims, but 
Muslims are allowed to proselytize freely.  The Government required 
missionary groups to apply for special licenses and continued to deny or 
delay work permits for foreign missionaries.  In April longtime resident 
and Catholic missionary Father Ottorino Sina was denied a reentry visa 
to return to Sudan; three other religious leaders were threatened with 
expulsion.   
 
The Government continued to deny permission to build churches, and in 
the north no new churches have been built since the early 1970's.  
Reliable reports stated that in some war zones, government forces closed 
or burned churches and mosques and restricted movements of Christian 
clergy.  At the local level, NIF officials restricted normal activities 
of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Sudan Council of 
Churches, and the Coptic Church.  In October 1994, the Government 
replaced the controversial Missionary Act with the Societies 
Registration Act.  Although this act allows churches to engage in a 
wider range of activities than the Missionary Act, churches are subject 
to the restrictions placed on nonreligious corporations. 
 
Non-Muslims continued to criticize privately the Government's favoritism 
of Islam over other religions.  Only Muslims are allowed to adopt 
children (see Section 1.f.).  As the basis of Sudan's Arab culture, all 
citizens are exposed to Islamic ideas set forth in the Koran.  All 
Popular Defense Force trainees, including non-Muslims, are indoctrinated 
in the Islamic faith.  In prisons, government supported Islamic NGO's 
offer inducements to, and exert pressure on, non-Muslim inmates to 
convert.  Reliable reports stated that, in some war zones, Islamic NGO's 
withheld food and other key services from the needy unless they 
converted to Islam.   
 
The U.N. Special Rapporteur in his 1995 Interim Report to the U.N. 
General Assembly reported that in rebel-controlled areas, Christians, 
Muslims, and followers of traditional African faiths were generally 
allowed to worship freely. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The Government restricted freedom of movement by denying exit visas to 
some categories of persons (such as policemen and doctors).  The 
Government also kept lists of political figures and others not permitted 
to travel abroad.  Because of tensions with Egypt, the authorities 
denied many requests for travel to that country. 
 
Women may not travel abroad without the permission of their husbands or 
male guardians.  Some former political detainees were forbidden to 
travel outside of Khartoum.  Movement was generally free for other 
citizens outside of the war zones, but those who failed to produce an 
identity card at checkpoints risked arrest.  Foreigners needed permits, 
which were hard to obtain and often refused, for domestic travel outside 
of Khartoum.  Diplomats, however, could travel freely to many locations.  
Foreigners had to register with the police on entering the country, seek 
permission to move from one location to another, and reregister at each 
new location within 3 days of arrival.  Foreign NGO staff sometimes had 
problems obtaining entry visas to Sudan or work or travel permits once 
they were in the country.  The SPLA and SSIM also required NGO personnel 
to obtain permission before traveling to areas they control, although 
such permission was granted regularly.  Rebel factions also abused and 
mistreated NGO personnel. 
 
Tens of thousands of persons, largely southerners and westerners 
displaced by famine and civil war, continued to live in squatter slums 
in the Khartoum area.  Throughout 1995 the Government razed thousands of 
squatter dwellings in this area:  inhabitants knew that their homes were 
slated for destruction but not when it would occur.  Bulldozers would 
typically arrive unannounced in a neighborhood and carry out the razings 
the same day.  Although the Government promised to sell the inhabitants 
a plot of land for approximately $145 (100,000 Sudanese pounds), tens of 
thousands were made homeless temporarily.  Usually, the inhabitants 
established temporary shelters on the site of their razed dwellings 
until they could gain title to a plot of land.  Muslims who did not have 
sufficient money to purchase the land and construct a dwelling could 
obtain assistance from Islamic charities.  Others could not.   
 
Sudan accorded refugees relatively good treatment.  At year's end, the 
population of officially registered refugees (largely composed of 
Ethiopians and Eritreans) was about 353,765, with an estimated 240,000 
additional unregistered refugees not in camps.  In November, however, 
the Government detained up to 300 Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees in 
camps in eastern Sudan for alleged crimes committed in the camps.  Those 
detained included three employees of a U.S.-based NGO which provides 
medical services.  The arrests prompted the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to postpone a long-awaited camp 
census.  About half the refugee population receives assistance from the 
UNHCR.  There were no reports of forcible repatriation of refugees, 
regardless of their status.  Refugees could not become resident aliens 
or citizens, regardless of their length of stay.  However, the 
Government tolerated a large number of refugees and allowed them to 
work, although typically in menial occupations in the cities.  An 
estimated 330,000 Sudanese refugees remained in Uganda, as a result of 
the fighting between the Government and the insurgents and rebel 
factional infighting.  Refugees flowed from Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya 
as well. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Citizens had neither the right nor the ability to change their 
government peacefully.  Political power remained solely in the hands of 
a small group of unelected military officers and the NIF leadership.  
The NIF continued to increase its control at the provincial and state 
levels and removed or retired half of the armed forces officers.   
 
In 1989 the RCC abolished all political parties and detained temporarily 
the major party leaders, and in 1990 rejected both multiparty and one-
party systems.  In 1992 the RCC instituted the Transitional National 
Assembly (TNA) based on a Libyan-style political structure with 
ascending levels of nonpartisan assemblies.  The membership, largely 
progovernment, is entirely government appointed.  Although individual 
members occasionally criticized government policies, the TNA remained a  
 
rubberstamp body, whose main function was to ratify legislation proposed 
by the executive. 
 
In August the Government instituted a federal system of government, 
which it claimed would involve local people in decisionmaking.  In 
reality there is little popular participation in government.  A General 
Elections Commission selects all candidates permitted to run in general 
elections.  In the March elections for state assemblies, each state's 
popular committees elected 45 percent of the members, and the Government 
appointed 10 percent.  The remaining 45 percent were chosen in elections 
in which, by the Government's own admission, less than 10 percent of the 
electorate voted.  However, in August the Government announced "open, 
free, and fair" presidential and parliamentary elections would be held 
in 1996. 
 
Few women were in the highest ranks of government.  However, these women 
and women in lesser positions played a significant role in government 
operations.  A deputy Minister for Social Planning, one of the governors 
of Sudan's 26 states, and 10 percent of the TNA members are women. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
The Government tried to stamp out any domestic criticism on human rights 
issues by frequently and vehemently denying any responsibility for human 
rights abuses.  Since the 1989 coup, the Government has banned local, 
independent human rights organizations.  However, the Christian church 
organizations, Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, and the Sudan Council 
of Churches, continued to seek to monitor and publicize human rights 
abuses, especially religious discrimination. 
 
In 1991 the Government created the Sudan Human Rights Organization 
(SHRO)--not to be confused with the previous SHRO, which it dissolved 
after the 1989 coup--to defend its human rights record.  This 
organization has yet to criticize the Government.  This year, the 
Popular Arab and Islamic Conference (PAIC), led by Hassan Turabi, 
established the International Islamic Human Rights Organization (IIHRO).  
The IIHRO is designed to be the Islamic answer to Western human rights 
organizations, which the PAIC deems prejudiced against Islam.   The 
IIHRO issued a statement praising the Government's August release of 
political detainees but has yet to criticize the Government. 
 
In an attempt to demonstrate the regime's concern for human rights, the 
TNA adopted in 1993 the "Sudan Document of Human Rights" and created a 
Human Rights Committee.  After the latter began quietly investigating 
cases of disappearances, however, the Government dismissed its members 
in July and appointed new members.  The new members have shown no 
inclination to criticize or investigate the Government's human rights 
record. 
 
The Government remained hostile toward investigation of its human rights 
record and was highly defensive about foreign criticism.  It bitterly 
denounced the 1994 report on Sudan by the U.N. Special Rapporteur, 
Gaspar Biro, and again denied permission for Biro to visit Sudan.  Biro 
wrote his 1995 Report, which the Government also condemned, and his 1995 
Interim Report to the U.N. General Assembly based on sources outside 
Sudan.  In February the Government revoked the permission it had granted 
to Amnesty International to send observers to Sudan.  However, the 
Government allowed two other international human rights NGO's, Human 
Rights Watch and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights to visit.   
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
   Women 
 
Violence against women appears to be common, especially wife beating, 
although accurate statistics do not exist.  The Government did not 
address the issue of violence against women; nor was it discussed 
publicly.  The police do not normally intervene in domestic disputes, 
and no court cases involved violence against women.  Many women are 
reluctant to file formal complaints against such abuse.  Displaced women 
from the south were particularly vulnerable to harassment, rape and 
sexual abuse.  Among some southern ethnic groups rape is common.  No 
blame is attached to the practice, although the man involved must pay 
the woman's family if she becomes pregnant.   
 
Some aspects of Sudanese law and many traditional practices discriminate 
against women.  Gender segregation is commonplace.  In keeping with 
Islamic law, Muslim women are not accorded the same property, 
inheritance, and family rights as Muslim men.  Women typically inherit 
half as much of the estate as a man with the same degree of kinship, and 
it is much easier for men to initiate legal divorce proceedings.  Women 
are also discriminated against in their ability to marry.  Although a 
Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-
Muslim unless he converts to Islam.  These rules apply only to Muslims 
and not to those of other faiths, for whom religious or tribal law 
applies.  Among some ethnic groups, wives are taken on a trial basis 
lasting up to 4 years.  The husband may dissolve the marriage during 
this period by returning the wife to her family, although he must pay a 
price for each child born during this time.  In most cases, the husband 
gets custody of the children.  The wife reportedly may contract further 
marriages.   
 
Government directives required women in government offices and female 
students and teachers to conform to what it deemed an Islamic dress 
code, which, at the least, entailed wearing a head covering.  For 
example, the Passport Office would not issue passports to women, Muslim 
or Christian, who did not have their heads covered in their passport 
pictures, and government employees often would not wait on women who did 
not have their heads covered.  However, enforcement of the dress code 
regulations was uneven. 
 
   Children 
 
The Government demonstrated no significant concern for the rights and 
welfare of children.  A considerable number of children suffered serious 
abuse, including enslavement and forced conscription in the war zones.   
 
There continued to be credible but unconfirmed reports of the existence 
of special camps in the south in which people from the north or from 
abroad came to purchase women and children to work as domestics (see 
Section 6.c.).  Recurrent reports stated that the SPLA held thousands of 
children in camps against their will and used them as a reservoir of 
recruits for its military forces (see Sections 1.g. and 6.c.).   
 
The Government runs several camps for vagrant children.  Police 
periodically sweep the streets of Khartoum and other major cities, 
taking children whom police personnel deem homeless to the camps, where 
they are detained for indefinite periods.  These children may not leave 
the camps and are subjected to strict discipline and physical and 
military training.  Health care and schooling at the camps are generally 
poor; basic living conditions are also often primitive.  All the 
children, including non-Muslims, must study the Koran, and there is 
pressure on non-Muslims to convert to Islam.  Children in the camps are 
often incorporated into the PDF. 
 
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely condemned by international 
health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health.  
Although illegal, FGM is widespread, especially in northern Sudan.  As 
many as 90 percent or more of females in the north have been mutilated 
by FGM, with consequences that sometimes have included severe urinary 
problems, infections, and even death.  Pharaonic mutilation 
(infibulation), the severest of the three types, is the most common and 
is usually performed on girls between ages 4 and 7.  Because few 
physicians will perform the operation, it is most often done by 
paramedical personnel in improvised, unsanitary conditions, causing 
severe pain and trauma to the child.  Women displaced from the south to 
the north reportedly are increasingly imposing FGM upon their daughters, 
even if they themselves have not been subjected to it. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
The Government does not discriminate against handicapped persons but has 
not enacted any special legislation or taken other steps, such as 
mandating accessibility to public buildings and transportation for the 
disabled. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
Although the law recognizes Sudan as a multireligious country, in 
practice, the Government treats Islam, the religion of the majority, as 
the state religion.  Muslims are the majority and predominate in the 
north, but are in the minority in the south where most of the people 
practice Christianity or traditional African religions.  One to two 
million displaced southerners, who practice Christianity or traditional 
African religions, and about 500,000 Coptic Christians live in the 
north. 
 
In government-controlled areas of the south, there continued to be 
credible evidence of a policy of Islamization.  For example, NIF 
supporters often replaced non-Muslim civil servants, and all non-Muslim 
judges have been transferred to the north where they are relegated to 
low-level tasks such as adjudicating traffic disputes.  In the north, 
some non-Muslims lost their jobs in the civil service, the judiciary, 
and other professions.  Few non-Muslim university graduates found 
government jobs at all.  Frequent dismissals in the army and police 
purged professionals to make room for NIF supporters.  Some non-Muslim 
businessmen complained of petty harassment and discrimination in the 
awarding of government contracts and trade licenses.  There were also 
credible reports that Muslims receive preferential treatment for the 
limited services provided by the Government, including access to medical 
care.   
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
Sudan's population of 27.5 million is a multiethnic mix of over 500 Arab 
and African tribes with scores of languages and dialects.  The Arab, 
Muslim culture in the north and central areas and the non-Muslim, 
African culture in the south are the two dominant cultures.  Northern 
Muslims, who form a majority of about 16 million, have traditionally 
dominated the Government.  The southern ethnic groups fighting the civil 
war (largely followers of traditional African religions or Christians) 
want some form of regional self-determination or even independence from 
the North.   
 
The Muslim majority and the NIF-dominated Government continued to 
discriminate against ethnic minorities in almost every aspect of 
society.  Residents in Arabic-speaking areas who do not themselves speak 
Arabic were discriminated against in education, jobs, and other 
opportunities. 
 
The Arabization of instruction in higher education discriminated against 
non-Arabs.  To compete for a university slot, students completing high 
school had to pass examinations in four subjects--English, mathematics, 
Arabic, and religious studies.  Even at the university level, exams for 
all subjects except English were in Arabic, placing nonnative Arabic 
speakers at a disadvantage. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
Although Sudan had a strong labor union movement during the Government 
of Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the RCC abolished the precoup labor unions, closed 
union offices, froze union assets, forbade strikes, and prescribed stiff 
punishments, including the death penalty, for violations of RCC labor 
decrees.  The Government dismissed many labor leaders from their jobs or 
detained them, although most of those arrested were later freed.   
 
During the 3 days of antigovernment demonstrations in September, the 
Government preemptively detained precoup labor union officials.  Most 
were released when the demonstrations ended (see Section 1.d.). 
 
The Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation (SWTUF) is the leading blue-
collar labor organization with about 800,000 members.  In 1992 local 
union elections were held, after a delay to permit the government-
controlled steering committees to arrange the outcomes.  The elections 
resulted in government-approved slates of candidates voted into office 
by prearranged acclamation. 
 
The U.S. Government in 1991 suspended Sudan's eligibility for trade 
benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences because of its 
violations of worker rights.   
 
Unions remained free to form federations and affiliate with 
international bodies, such as the African Workers' Union and the Arab 
Workers' Union. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
An RCC constitutional decree of June 30, 1989, temporarily suspended the 
right to organize and bargain collectively.  Although these rights were 
restored to organizing committees in September of the same year, 
government control of the steering committees meant in practice that the 
Government dominates the process of setting wages and working 
conditions.  The continued absence of labor legislation allowing for 
union meetings, filing of grievances, and other union activity, greatly 
reduced the value of these formal rights.  Although local union 
officials raised some grievances with employers, few carried them to the 
Government.  Wages are set by a tripartite committee comprising 
representatives of the Government, labor unions, and business.  
Specialized labor courts adjudicate standard labor disputes. 
 
In 1993 the Government created two export processing zones (EPZ's); it 
later established a third at Khartoum International Airport.  At year's 
end, only the EPZ at Khartoum International Airport was open.  Sudanese 
labor laws do not apply in these EPZ's. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
Although the law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, slavery persists.  
According to the report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur, reports and 
information from a variety of sources after February 1994 indicate that 
the number of cases of slavery, servitude, slave trade, and forced labor 
have increased alarmingly.  The taking of slaves, particularly in war 
zones, and their export to parts of central and northern Sudan 
continued.  There also continued to be credible, but unconfirmed reports 
that women and children were sold and sent abroad to work as domestics, 
agricultural laborers, or sometimes concubines.  In some instances, 
local authorities took action to stop instances of slavery, in other 
cases the authorities did nothing to stop the practice.   
 
Both the Government and rebel factions continued to forcibly conscript 
young men and boys into the military or rebel militias.  For example, in 
February a group of national service trainees were unexpectedly taken to 
Khartoum and flown to Juba, where they were expected to serve in combat.  
Young men and boys faced significant hardship and abuse once conscripted 
for military service.  The SPLA reportedly held thousands of children in 
camps against their will as a reservoir of recruits (see Sections 1.g. 
and 5).  The rebel factions continued to force southern men to work as 
laborers or porters or forcibly conscripted them into their fighting 
forces. 
 
The Special Rapporteur received testimony on regular abductions which 
took place in Gogrial during joint incursions by the army, the PDF, and 
the armed militias.  In addition, during April and May of 1995 it is 
reported that a train proceeding from Babanusa to Wau was used to 
transport civilians abducted during raids in the area carried out by 
government forces.  According to testimony, PDF troops took thousands of 
cattle and abducted some 500 women and 150 children.   
 
All the reports and information received indicate the direct and general 
involvement of the SPAF, the PDF, armed militias, and mujahidin groups 
backed by the Government in the abduction and deportation of civilians 
from the conflict zones to the north.  All these practices have a 
pronounced racial aspect, as the victims are exclusively Southerners and 
people belonging to the indigenous tribes of the Nuba Mountains.   
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
The legal minimum age for workers is 16 years, but the law is loosely 
enforced by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor in the official or 
wage economy.  Children as young as 11 or 12 years worked in a number of 
factories, particularly outside the capital, including the edible oil 
factories at Um Ruwaba.  In addition, gross poverty in Sudan has 
produced widespread child labor in the informal, unregulated economy.  
In rural areas, children traditionally assist their families with 
agricultural work from a very young age. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The legislated minimum wage is enforced by the Ministry of Labor, which 
maintains field offices in most major cities.  Employers generally 
respect the minimum wage.  Workers who are denied the minimum wage may 
file a grievance with the local Ministry of Labor field office, which is 
then supposed to investigate and take appropriate action if there has 
been a violation of the law.  At year's end, the minimum wage was 
approximately $10 (7,000 Sudanese pounds) per month.  This wage is 
insufficient to support an average worker and family. 
 
The workweek is limited by law to six 8-hour days, with a day of rest on 
Friday.  Although the laws prescribe health and safety standards, 
working conditions were generally poor, and enforcement by the Ministry 
of Labor minimal.  The law does not address the right of workers to 
remove themselves from dangerous work situations without loss of 
employment. 
 
(###)


[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1995 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.