Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (14 March) on current developments in the Sudan:
I was very concerned to hear that the Sudanese journalist Osman Mirghani, who is editor‑in‑chief of Al‑Tayar newspaper, is being held in custody with more than five other people in a cold cell of only four square metres in size.
Osman Mirghani was arrested on 22 February, after giving an interview on Sky News Arabia. He is being held without charge and without access to legal advice. The arrest followed the declaration by President Omar Bashir – for whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant – of a state of emergency, and his replacement of all state governors in the country by army and police officers. Osman Mirghani’s family was not allowed to visit him until 12 March. He needs medication since being attacked by the security forces at his newspaper’s offices.
I call on the Sudanese authorities to immediately release Osman Mirghani and all other journalists and political representatives, as well as all those who are being held solely for exercising their right of freedom of opinion and for peacefully protesting against President Oman Bashir’s repressive regime. The use of cold cells constitutes torture. This serious human rights violation must be ceased immediately.
Peaceful protests calling for political change have been taking place in the Sudan for the past three months. These protests are contained by the security forces by use of violence. Many opposition politicians and activists are in prison. According to human rights defenders, almost 60 people have been killed and 800 detained. Protesters have also been sentenced to corporal punishment. The Sudan is currently in 174th place out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.