Protection against summary executions, arbitrary detention, disappearances and torture
In each of the Darfur States, civilians have reportedly been arbitrarily arrested, subjected to ill treatment, denied access to legal counsel, held without being informed of the reasons for their arrest, and detained for extended periods of time without appearing before a judicial authority. Targeted individuals have included community activists who work in the field of human rights; Sudanese who work for international organizations or who have been perceived as cooperating too much with the international community; individuals from the predominant ethnicities of various rebel groups; and Sudanese who have been perceived to hold opposition political views of the political opposition. Arrests by Government security forces also took place in the aftermath of clashes between warring parties. In South Darfur, for example, following the attacks in the Katila area in May 2007, UN staff documented the arrest by PDF soldiers of at least 24 people, who were accused of supporting and being affiliated with an opposition rebel faction. Some of the detainees were transported to the NISS facility in Eddal Fursan, west of Nyala, while others were held at the military intelligence facility. Detainees interviewed described accounts of severe ill treatment, including of strangling with ropes for extending periods of time. When presented with these allegations, on 11 June 2007, the Director of NISS in Nyala confirmed that the arrests had taken place, but denied the occurrence of ill treatment.
In another incident, which took place after the fighting in Guldo in West Darfur (reported above), two Fur male villagers who were fleeing the fighting were caught by Sudan Armed Forces in Shaw Fogo village, located between Guldo and Nertiti town, on 14 August 2007. The two detainees, one of whom was a 14 year old boy, were detained at the military intelligence detention facility in Zalingei. During interrogation, reportedly, military intelligence officers forced them to “confess” that they were rebels and to provide information on rebel movements in Jebel Marra. UN personnel attempted to visit the detainees on 18 August 2007, but were denied access. On 19 August 2007, the case was raised with the prosecutor in Zalingei. The prosecutor stated that he had no power over NISS and military intelligence detentions. He further added that he could only act if the detainees complained. On 29 August 2007, relatives of the detainees reported that the detainees had been removed to another location and their whereabouts were unknown.
In the western part of West Darfur, during the reporting period, there were seven documented cases of arbitrary arrest and detention. Length of detentions varied from nine hours up to 49 days. None of the detentions were registered with the West Darfur State Prosecution Office. All detainees were arrested and questioned about their alleged affiliation with rebel groups. In two instances, the arrests were connected to investigations on carjacking incidents, while in the other five cases the individuals seem to have detained for no reason either ethnic background or suspected political activities. The seven cases involved a total number of 14 adult male victims: five Massalit tribe, one Erenga, one Daju, one Rashedi, two Tama and one person unknown. Two other persons were Chadian nationals and one person was a French national. In none of the cases were the victims charged with a criminal offence.
Military intelligence has a detention facility in Geneina. In other parts of western West Darfur, detainees arrested by military intelligence officers have been held in Sudan Armed Forces bases. Three cases of arbitrary detention were documented to have been carried out by Sudanese Armed Forces personnel since 20 June 2007 in western West Darfur. Detainees complained about threats and physical assault. In none of these cases did military intelligence present detainees before a prosecutor. This is consistent with the previously documented practice of military intelligence. Given that military intelligence detention powers do not appear to have been clearly codified, the incidence of arbitrary detention remains high and open to abuse.
The West Darfur NISS headquarters and a NISS local office are located in El Geneina. NISS has offices in all localities in west West Darfur, except in Sirba. All the offices based outside Geneina have detention facilities. In the NISS detention facility in Geneina, there were four documented cases of arbitrary arrest and detention.
In eastern West Darfur, there were five documented cases of torture and ill treatment by military intelligence, NISS and Police. One of the most serious cases involved the detention of two international NGO local staff by Zalingei police on 8 September 2007. The two staff reported that while in detention they were severely beaten with fists and sticks, including on the soles of the feet, while being forced to confess having stolen money from the organization for which they worked. Both men suffered serious bruises as a result of the ill treatment and were unable to walk properly afterwards. The men were released after three days, when the police identified other suspects.
In South Darfur, there were 15 documented incidents of arbitrary detention, including incommunicado detention, or detention in unofficial places of detention. Mostly targeted during the reporting period were men suspected to be affiliated with rebel movements, such as JEM/PW or SLA/AW, or for belonging to a particular tribe. Among the more prominent cases documented in the reporting period was a raid by Government police on Kalma camp, the biggest IDP camp in Darfur, which resulted in high numbers of arrests of IDPs, coupled with ill treatment of detainees. On 21 August 2007, Government police in Nyala mounted an action on Kalma camp in an attempt to arrest armed men suspected of planning and orchestrating attacks on two police stations near Kunduwa (five kilometers of Nyala) and in Al Salaam camp, on 14 and 19 August, respectively. At least 35 people were arrested during the police operation. During the swoop, riot police blocked the road between Nyala and Kalma camp. NISS officers turned away a joint AMIS/UN patrol, which had gone to investigate the incidents. The majority of the arrestees were not informed of the grounds for their arrest, charges were not brought against them, nor were they brought before a judicial authority, and they were not afforded access to legal representation. Interviewed detainees reported the use of excessive force during their arrest, including beatings with butts of guns and sticks. Several detainees reported that they were beaten with their hands tied behind their back during interrogation by NISS officers, continuously insulted and forced to eat mud. Only one of all people detained had charges laid against him. Even these charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence in a court hearing by the Nyala Specialized Court on 18 September 2007.
In North Darfur, four cases were documented of arbitrary detention by rebel forces, three of them by SLA/MM, nine cases of ill treatment in detention, of which eight were by SLA/MM and one by Government military authorities; three cases of abduction, one by militia and two by non signatory rebel factions. Civilians in areas under SLA/MM control have also been arbitrarily detained, subjected to ill treatment, denied minimum legal guarantees and exposed to abuses under the SLA/MM criminal justice system. Commonly documented cases involved civilians having been detained over civil matters, held for crimes committed by family members or short of a proper investigation, on the mere suspicion of having committed an offense. In a SLA/MM police station in Zamzam, North Darfur, a 78 year old male was detained on 11 July 2007 for failing to pay compensation related to a homicide case. The detainee had acted as a mediator and guarantor for the suspected offender, but he was not directly involved in the case in any other way. The detainee, who had been in custody for nearly a month when interviewed by UN staff, had not had the opportunity to appear before a judicial authority.
Also, in North Darfur, in Tawila, a prominent community leader was arrested and detained by SLA/MM for 29 days without being charged with an offense. He was first arrested on 30 May, placed in an SLA/MM detention facility near Tabit for two days, where he was severely beaten. On 27 June 2007, he was brought to another prison in Zamzam and released the next day. The SLA/MM accused him of organizing a violent demonstration in Tawila and also collecting money from the IDPs on behalf of SLA/AW. The man, however, indicated to UN interviewers that he believed he was arrested because of his stance against SLA/MM abuses in IDP camps.
Of equal concern has been the practice of mistreatment of detainees in SLA/MM facilities for example as regards the aftermath of an incident which occurred on 13 June 2007. A man accused of stealing livestock died in Shangil Tobayi as a result of severe ill treatment by SLA/MM soldiers. The man was detained with two other people, who were severely beaten. The men had their hands tied behind their back with rope, while they were beaten with sticks all over their bodies until becoming unconscious. Initially, the SLA/MM representative at the AMIS/Shangil Tobayi and the SLA/MM legal adviser confirmed the death, but alleged that the deceased had been killed by Zaghawa herdsmen. At a subsequent meeting, on 26 June 2007, an SLA/MM representative provided UN staff with a copy of the death certificate, issued by SLA officials in Thabit. The SLA/MM representative further informed UN staff that four to five police officers had been detained and were pending an investigation over the murder. However, a later attack on Thabit in July forced the SLA/MM presence to evacuate, and it then became unclear whether the case was still being investigated by SLA/MM authorities. On 11 July 2007, an SLA representative informed UN staff that the family of the deceased and SLA/MM officials were negotiating an agreement, which would most likely lead to the family receiving compensation, and the case was no longer under investigation.
Another three cases of ill treatment by SLA/MM were documented during a UN visit to the detention facility in Dar al Salaam, the SLA/MM central sector headquarters in North Darfur, on 14 August 2007. Out of the nine civilians detained in the facility, five were interviewed: two soldiers from a non signatory rebel faction detained for over ten days; a civilian detained since November 2006, accused of theft of animals; and two cattle herders detained for over 40 days for allegedly stealing a vehicle. All detainees reported very poor detention conditions, lack of sufficient food, and of being prevented from leaving the cell to visit a washroom. One interviewee reported that he had not been allowed to take a shower since his detention on 5 August 2007, and that he was forced to urinate inside the cell because the guards rarely allowed them out. All interviewees alleged having been ill treated upon arrest during their detention in SLA/MM facilities. Three of them, in two separate incidents (one on 5 August and the other on 27 June), were ill treated in another detention facility in Wada’ah, before their transfer to Dar al Salaam, reportedly as a result of orders by the same SLA/MM Area Commander. In two of the reported cases, there was a stated intention of extracting confessions from the detainees. From the accounts provided, the methods used during the ill treatment were similar. Victims reported having been tied by their feet and hands and hung from the ceiling facing the ground, and being knocked around. Other techniques involved beatings with sticks and whipping, and being splashed with cold water at night. The two rebel faction soldiers reported having been shackled since their arrest on 5 August 2007, although they were rarely allowed outside the cell.