On May 5, 2016, National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers reportedly attacked and detained a group of student activists who were meeting with lawyers to discuss appealing disciplinary proceedings launched by the University of Khartoum as a result of their political activism.
Reports indicate that on May 3 university officials ordered the dismissal of as many as 17 students in connection to their involvement in recent student-led demonstrations regarding the selling of university property. On May 5 a group of students named in the dismissal order went to the office of prominent human rights lawyer Nabil Adib to seek his assistance in appealing the university’s decision. During their meeting, as many as 15 plain-clothed NISS officers raided Mr. Adib’s office, claiming that he was holding an illegal meeting. The officers reportedly beat and detained nine students, as well as Hamid Omar Digno, a family representative of one of the dismissed students, and four of Mr. Adib’s employees. In addition, the officers reportedly confiscated equipment and legal files during the raid, including those belonging to the students.
As of this report, nine of the detained students remain detained incommunicado without charge. They include Hassan Alday Mohammed, Mohammed Almahjoub Otaiba, Mudasir Tayseer Mudasir, Mai Adil Ibrahim, Hussein Yahya Haran, Badr Alddin Salah Mohammed, Wifag Gurashi, Ahmed Abdel Hakam, and Mohamed Adam Hassan Abuzarga. The four employees detained in the raid were released later that evening after an interrogation by NISS officers. Mr. Digno and a tenth student detained during the raid, whose name remains undisclosed, have since been released.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence, incommunicado detention, and related attacks on students and their lawyers and representatives, in retaliation against their peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Higher education leaders and state authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association, and to refrain from retaliating against the exercise of those rights. Disciplinary proceedings, physical violence and imprisonment aimed at limiting the rights to free expression and association by students undermine academic freedom, university autonomy and democratic society generally.
On May 7, 2016, NISS officers reportedly detained students Muafaq Mohamed Abdul Hafiz and Mohamed Omer Hamid, both of whom were named in the above-mentioned disciplinary proceeding from the University of Khartoum. The students were reportedly en route to Al Gadarif state when they were intercepted by NISS officers. As of this report, their location remains unknown.
On June 19, 2016, the NISS released without charge Wifag Gurashi, Mai Adil Ibrahim and Mudasir Tayseer Mudasir. On June 21, NISS officers released on bail of 1,000 Sudanese Pounds (roughly $164 USD) Badr Alddin Salah Mohammed, Hussein Yahya Haran, Hamid Omar Digno, Mohammed Almahjoub Otaiba and Hassan Alday Mohammed. Those released on June 21 have reportedly been charged under Article 142, with ‘hurt’, Article 162, with ‘kidnapping’ and Article 180, with ‘criminal misappropriation,’ according to the 1991 Sudanese Criminal Law.