Striking Doctors in Sudan at Risk of Torture: Amnesty International, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies


Eric Reeves  |  November 13, 2016  |

Doctors on strike for reasonable pay and working conditions have been arrested and are being held incommunicado: Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies fear they may be tortured. Europe and the U.S. look on with indifference.


Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry, here with Khartoum's foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour---key architects in a policy of rapprochement

As Sudan's economic collapse accelerates, as inflation for cooking fuel, crucial medicines, and transportation tariffs, and electricity explodes, the Sudanese Pound continues its free-fall against the Dollar, reflecting an almost total lack of Foreign Exchange Currency (Forex) with which to purchase imports. Health services are deteriorating rapidly, the national water crisis is growing, the agricultural sector is in terminal decline, and malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. Repression is the only tool of survival for the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime. Journalists have recently been subject to growing incarceration and harassment, and political opposition leaders have also been incarcerated in increasing numbers.



Leaders of the Khartoum regime are becoming more repressive and more dependent on the various security apparatuses: here "Field Marshal" and President Omar al-Bashir and First Vice President General Bakri Hassan Saleh.  These are the men former U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman had in mind when he declared: "[The Obama administration does] not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures."

Just this past week:

Sudan Tribune:

Sudanese security arrests two journalists | November 11, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has continued crackdown on press freedoms and detained two journalists on Thursday, said media watchdog...

Sudan's opposition SCoP members arrested for incitement against regime: Minister | November 9, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's Minister of Information Ahmed Bilal Osman on Wednesday...

Sudanese security arrests SCoP leader in severe crackdown on opposition party | November 9, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has launched massive arrest campaign against members of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP), detaining its chairman and seven leading...

Sudanese security seizes three newspapers, arrests more opposition figures | November 6, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Sunday has seized copies of three daily newspapers from the printing house without stating reasons. Sudanese journalists hold slogans which...

Radio Dabanga

Journalists held, beaten in Sudan capital | November 13, 2016 | KHARTOUM

Two lawyers detained in Sudan's security campaign | November 11, 2016 | KHARTOUM NORTH | The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) detained two lawyers in Khartoum North who were speaking out against the recent economic decisions on Friday morning.

SCP leadership detained by Sudan's security service | November 10, 2016 | OMDURMAN / SHAMBAT

Sudanese opposition leaders detained for slating fuel price hikes | November 10, 2016 | KHARTOUM |  Security authorities have detained five of the leaders of Reform Now Movement and the coalition of opposition forces for criticising the fuel price increases.

Demonstration in Atbara, Sudan quelled with 'heavy hand' | November 10, 2016 | ATBARA | Security services and police reacted ‘with harsh force' when citizens of Atbara in Sudan's River Nile State took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the increase in fuel and electricity prices.

NISS detains more Sudanese Congress Party leaders | November 7, 2016 | KHARTOUM

Three Sudanese newspapers gagged, ‘repression increasing' | November 7, 2016 | KHARTOUM

Two more opposition leaders held in Sudan capital | November 7, 2016 | KHARTOUM

None of this matters to the European countries or the Obama administration as they seek rapprochement with Khartoum.


[1]  SUDAN: DISCLOSE WHEREABOUTS OF TEN ARRESTED DOCTORS | Amnesty International, 8 November 2016, Index number: AFR 54/5107/2016 |

The whereabouts of ten medical doctors remain unknown after being arrested by the Sudanese National Intelligence Service (NISS) between 30 October and 6 November. They 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. 

[2]    "Concerns for 14 doctors held incommunicado in Sudan": African Center for Justice and Peace Studies | Radio Dabanga | November 13, 2016 | NEW YORK |

The 14 medical doctors detained incommunicado by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) since 31 October may be subjected to torture, says the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).

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

On 6 October, doctors and medical professionals in various parts of Sudan embarked on an open-ended strike. They demanded protection while working, a pay rise, and better working conditions. A week later the medical staff of 136 state hospitals had joined the action.

After reaching an agreement with the Vice-President and the Minister of Health on 20 October, the doctors temporarily called off the strike to give the government more time to implement its commitments.

Two weeks later, the Sudanese Doctors' Central Committee (SDCC) announced the resumption of the strike for two days a week, as "the authorities have not kept their commitments." The doctors would only perform life-saving and emergency services again during the renewed strike. The NISS, which had been harassing striking medics before, now began detaining them.

In a press statement on Thursday, ACJPS states that Dr Hussam Khalifa, National Coordinator of the SDCC, is being held at the NISS headquarters in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, ACJPS reports. Dr Emad Ali, the coordinator of the SDCC in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, has been transferred to an unknown place.

Twelve doctors held in early November are currently being detained in Khartoum North at "the Political Department of the NISS offices close to the Shendi bus station": psychiatrist Ahmed Abdelwahab Alabwaby, who was detained from his home in Atbara in River Nile state on 1 November; Hassan Karar Mamoun, surgeon at the Khartoum Teaching hospital; Omar Ahmed Salih, general physician at the El Jazeera Surgery Centre, and SDCC secretary-general; Mohamed Abdellateef, abdominal specialist at Khartoum Bahri Hospital and chair of the SDCC's Central Council; Mohamed El Motaba, abdominal specialist; Abdallah Gorashi, deputy head of Emergency Department at the Omdurman Teaching Hospital; Jihad Abdelmonim, paediatrician at the Khartoum Teaching Hospital; Mohamed Bashir Helali, surgeon at the Ibrahim Malik Hospital; Abdelmoiz Bakheet Elamin, detained at the Police Hospital in Khartoum, and medics Nasir Shaga Nasir, Ahmed El Sheikh, and Sid Genat.

ACJPS expresses its "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 Emad Ali, who was detained on 31 October whilst he was performing surgery at El Geneina hospital, following an armed raid on the hospital by NISS officers the previous day. Ali was released but later held again, and reported that he had been beaten during the first detention. Authorities have refused to disclose his whereabouts.

The African Centre also condemns the repeated summoning of dozens of striking doctors by the NISS throughout 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. They have been 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.

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

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.


Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights


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