8 November 2012

Sudanese Journalist Tortured and Subjected to Racist Abuse By NISS

press release

The Government of Sudan must immediately investigate the arbitrary detention and torture of freelance Sudanese journalist Somia Ismail Ibrahim Hendusa, who was found abandoned and in extremely poor health on a Khartoum street on 2 November following her arrest by Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers on 29 October.

Ms. Hendusa, a 34 year old freelance journalist, was arrested from a street in Khartoum Bahri nearby her family home at 10pm on 29 October. She was apprehended by seven NISS officers and taken to the NISS office in Khartoum Bahri. Ms. Hendusa was subjected to physical and psychological torture and reported that nine NISS officers were involved. She was forced to remove her abaya (Islamic dress), beaten with water pipes and burned on her back, shoulders and stomach with an iron.

Ms. Hendusa was also subjected to racial abuse. The NISS officers shaved her head and told her that they did so because she appeared have "Arab" hair rather than "Darfuri" hair. She was also accused of being a prostitute and told that the Rizeigat are slaves.

Four days later, on the morning of 2 November, Ms. Hendusa was released and abandoned in extremely poor health on a street in the Khour Al Sumra neighbourhood of Al Drushab district, Khartoum Bahri.

Ms. Hendusa is a freelance journalist known for publishing political analysis for two online newspapers, Sudan Today and Al Rakouba. During her detention, she was accused of advocating against the Government of Sudan and interrogated about articles she had written which were critical of Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir.

Ms. Hendusa had been living in Cairo, Egypt but was visiting family in Sudan for Eid Al-Adha at the time of her arrest. She reported that on 25 October, a few days prior to her arrest, she had received a phone call from the NISS welcoming her to Sudan. She received a second call on 27 October asking her to report to NISS offices in Khartoum Bahri, which she did not do. Ms. Hendusa also reported that a car had been following her in the days leading to her arrest.

On 2 November, the day of her release, Ms. Hendusa sought medical treatment at Omdurman Hospital. However, the hospital refused to issue her the medical report form necessary to obtain treatment. She subsequently obtained a medical report from Khartoum Bahri Hospital which confirmed that she had burns on her body and that her head had been shaved.

On the day of her release, Ms. Hendusa also attempted to lodge a criminal complaint at Al Safia Police station in Khartoum Bahri. She obtained the required approval from the prosecutor of Al Safia police station to lodge a criminal complaint, but after waiting six hours at the police station the attending officer refused to conduct an interview in the absence of a senior officer. She subsequently succeeded to file a criminal complaint the next day against nine NISS officers including a high ranking NISS officer named Babiker al Fadni and eight others whose names are not known.

ACJPS calls on the Government of Sudan to uphold its domestic and international law obligations and immediately ensure an effective, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of arbitrary detention, torture and racist abuse.

Throughout 2012, ACJPS has documented a pattern of arbitrary arrest, torture and ill-treatment of individuals publishing material critical of the Government of Sudan, including journalists, political activists and human rights defenders. ACJPS is concerned that there has been a rise in the incidence of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment of women activists in recent months.

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