Source: US Department of State
Date: 30 Jan 1998
          Sudan Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
January 30, 1998.

The 1989 military coup that overthrew Sudan's democratically
elected government brought to power Lt. General Omar Hassan
Al-Bashir and his National Salvation Revolution Command Council
(RCC). Bashir and the RCC suspended the 1985 Constitution,
abrogated press freedom, and disbanded all political parties and
trade unions. In 1993 the RCC dissolved itself and appointed Bashir
President. In March 1996 Bashir won highly structured national
elections as President, while a National Assembly with 275 of 400
members popularly elected in a deeply flawed process replaced the
transitional national assembly. The opposition boycotted the
electoral process. Despite promulgation of national institutions and
an interim constitution through constitutional decrees, the
Government continues to restrict most civil liberties. Since 1989
real power has rested with the National Islamic Front (NIF),
founded by Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi, who became speaker of the
National Assembly in 1996. NIF members and supporters continue
to hold key positions in the Government; security forces; judiciary;
academic institutions; and the media. The supreme political
institution, the National Convention, which sets national policy
guidelines, is also under NIF control. The judiciary is subject to
government influence.

The civil war, which has resulted in the death of more than 1.5
million Sudanese, continued into its 15th year. The principal
insurgent faction is the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM), a body created by the Sudan People's Liberation Army
(SPLA). The SPLA remains the principal military force in the
insurgency. In April the South Sudan Independence
Movement/Army (SSIM/A), which broke away from the SPLA,
and several smaller southern factions concluded a peace agreement
with the Government. These former insurgent elements then formed
the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF). However, the
SPLM, its armed wing, the SPLM/A, and most independent
analysts have regarded the April 21 Agreement as a tactical
government effort to enlist southerners on its side. The SPLM/A
and its northern allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
carried out successful military offensives in areas along the borders
with Ethiopia and Eritrea and in large parts of the south during the
year. Neither side appears to have the ability to win the war
militarily. There was some progress toward peace during the year.
At a July meeting of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on
Development (IGAD), President Bashir accepted the 1994 IGAD
Declaration of Principles as "the basis for discussions and
negotiations" for peace. The Government had rejected that
document in 1994, while the SPLM/A had accepted it. Government
and SPLM/A delegations met with the IGAD in September and
participated in IGAD-mediated peace talks.

In addition to the regular police and the Sudan People's Armed
Forces (SPAF), the Government maintains an external security
organ, an internal security organ, a militia known as the Popular
Defense Forces (PDF), and a number of police forces, including the
public order police whose mission includes enforcing proper social
behavior, including restrictions on alcohol and "immodest dress." In
addition to the group of regular police forces, there is the Popular
Police Force, which is made up of nominees from neighborhood
popular committees for surveillance and services, and acts with
police powers for political and social ends. Members of the security
forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses.

Civil war, economic mismanagement, over 4 million internally
displaced persons in a country of an estimated 27.5 million persons,
and, to a lesser extent, the refugee influx from neighboring
countries have devastated Sudan's mostly agricultural economy.
Exports of gum arabic, livestock, and meat accounted for more
than 50 percent of export earnings. Reforms aimed at privatizing
state-run firms and stimulating private investment failed to revive a
moribund economy saddled with massive military expenditures and
a huge foreign debt of approximately $16 billion. Per capita national
income is estimated at $900 per year.

The human rights situation remained extremely poor, and the
Government committed serious human rights abuses. Citizens do
not have the ability to change their government peacefully.
Government forces were responsible for extrajudicial killings and
disappearances. Government security forces regularly tortured,
beat, harassed, arbitrarily arrested, and detained opponents or
suspected opponents of the Government with impunity. Prison
conditions are harsh, and the judiciary is largely subservient to the
Government. The authorities do not ensure due process, and the
military forces summarily tried and punished citizens. The
Government still does not fully apply the laws of war to the
southern insurgency and has taken few prisoners of war.

The Government continued to restrict freedom of privacy,
assembly, association, religion, and movement. The Government
eased restrictions on freedom of the press in May; however, all
journalists continue to practice self-censorship. There are no
independent human rights organizations. In the context of the
Islamization and Arabization drive, pressure--including forced
Islamization--on non-Muslims remained strong. Fears of
Arabization and Islamization and the imposition of Shari'a (Islamic
law) fueled support for the civil war throughout the country.
Discrimination and violence against women and abuse of children
continued. Discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities
persisted, as did government restrictions on worker rights. Child
labor is a problem. Slavery remains a problem. Government security
forces were responsible for forced labor, slavery, and forced
conscription of children.

On a less negative note, the Government continued cooperation
with international human rights monitors. The U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Sudan twice visited areas under the Government's
control, although his first visit was aborted when he left the country
after the Government stated that it could not ensure his security.
The Government also invited the Working Group on Contemporary
Forms of Slavery; it had not visited as of year's end.

Cooperation with U.N.-sponsored relief operations was mixed.
Government forces periodically obstructed the flow of humanitarian
assistance. Problems with relief flights in the south centered on the
Government's denial of aircraft clearances to both the U.N.
Operation Lifeline Sudan and the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC). The Government failed to resolve the problem
of false accusations that it had made against the ICRC in November
1996 in which it alleged that the ICRC transported of arms and
ammunition. As a result, the ICRC undertook only severely limited
operations during the year.

Insurgent groups continued to commit numerous, serious abuses.
The SPLM/A continued to violate citizens' rights, despite its claim
to be implementing a 1994 decision to assert civil authority in areas
that it controls, and in many cases, has controlled for many years.
The SPLM/A was responsible for extrajudicial killings, beatings,
arbitrary detention, forced conscription, and occasional arrests of
foreign relief workers without charge. The SPLM/A again failed to
follow through on its promise to investigate a 1995 massacre.
SPLM/A leaders were guilty of, or complicit in, theft of property of
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) and U.N. agencies
operating in the south. The ICRC reported in 1996 that the SPLA
had begun to observe some basic laws of war; it takes prisoners on
the battlefield and permits ICRC visits to them. However, the
SPLA did not allow the ICRC to visit prisoners accused by the
insurgent group of "treason" or other crimes.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom From:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In their attacks on insurgent forces, government troops killed
civilians (see Section 1.g.).

Insurgent forces committed political and other extrajudicial killings;
however, details are generally unavailable. There are reliable reports
that rebel forces that captured villages along the border with
Ethiopia in January carried lists used to identify leading government
figures whom they summarily killed.

Rebels also killed civilians during their attacks on government
forces (see Section 1.g.).

b. Disappearance

There were continued allegations that the Government was
responsible for the arrest and subsequent disappearance of those
suspected of supporting rebels in government-controlled zones of
the south and the Nuba Mountains.

In June the Government's Advisory Council on Human Rights
released the results of an independent judicial commission's
investigations into the fate of some of the scores of persons arrested
by government forces in Juba in 1992 who had disappeared. The
commission's report lacked details, and its description of the
"confessions" of five citizens was not credible. These confessions
formed the basis for the execution of these persons after a trial by a
military tribunal, which reportedly was conducted under the law
with the approval of the Attorney General.

In 1996 the Government established a Special Commission to
Investigate Slavery and Disappearances in response to a resolution
passed by the 1995 U.N. General Assembly.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or

The Government's official and unofficial security forces continued
to torture and beat suspected opponents. In March the U.N. Special
Rapporteur on Torture described torture as a fairly extensive

Torture victims included youth and student leaders and those
deemed opponents of the Government. In March armed security
personnel with handheld radios detained Ahlia University student,
Magdi Abdelmoniem Hassan, chairman of the student union of the
university. They took him to two locations where they severely beat
him. Photographs show weals on his back and his medical report
also indicated a ruptured ear drum. Senior political prisoners
released in May after being held since January stated that fellow
detainees who were youths and students and those allegedly
affiliated with the rebels were beaten badly while in custody. In
mid-September security forces arrested and beat Osman Zein
Al-Abdin Issa, an independent student activist from Khartoum
University. There were credible reports in September that security
forces in Juba severely beat a Sudanese Protestant Christian
clergyman. In December security forces beat approximately 50
women who attempted to deliver a petition to the U.N. office in
Khartoum (see Section 2.a.). Security forces also beat defendants in
the 1996 coup attempt (see Section 1.e.).

There were reports that security forces tortured persons in "ghost
houses," places where security forces detain government opponents
incommunicado under harsh conditions for an indeterminate time
with no supervision by the courts or other independent authorities
with power to release the detainees. The use of ghost houses
increased in the first part of the year, then generally declined due to
increased government control, which reduced the incidence of such
abusive measures.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention remain problems. Legal provisions
under the 1992 and 1995 National Security Acts and Criminal Code
effectively set a fairly simple process to detain anyone for 3 months.
A presidential determination, supported by a magistrate, may serve
to detain a person for an additional 3 months. Allegations continue
that some individuals are detained indefinitely.

The law allows for bail, except for those accused of crimes
punishable by death or life imprisonment. In theory, the
Government provides legal counsel for indigent persons in such
cases. However, reports continue that defendants do not always
receive this right, and that counsel in some cases may only advise
the defendant and may not address the court.

Authorities continued to detain political opponents of the
Government during the year.

In December security forces beast and arrested approximately 50
women who had tried to deliver a petition to the U.N. offices in
Khartoum (see Section 2.a.).

In the wake of January attacks into Sudan from across the
Ethiopian border north and south of the Blue Nile river, authorities
arrested many persons. The Government released prominent
political figures by the end of May, but still held a number of
student leaders and those said to have been accused of contacts
with the insurgents at year's end.

The Government does not use forced exile; however, some
prominent political leaders fled into exile.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is not independent and is largely subservient to the
Government. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, formerly
elected by sitting judges, is now appointed. As the senior judge in
the judicial service, he also controls the judiciary.

The judicial system includes four types of courts: Regular courts,
both criminal and civil; special mixed security courts; military
courts; and tribal courts in rural areas to resolve disputes over land
and water rights and family matters.

The 1991 Criminal Act governs criminal cases, and the 1983 Civil
Transactions Act applies in most civil cases. Military trials, which
are sometimes secret and brief, do not provide procedural
safeguards, have sometimes taken place with no advocate or
counsel permitted, and do not provide effective appeal from a death
sentence. Other than for clemency, witnesses may be permitted to

Trials in regular courts nominally meet international standards of
legal protections. For example, the accused normally have the right
to counsel, and the courts are required to provide free legal counsel
for indigent defendants accused of crimes punishable by death or
life imprisonment. In practice, however, these legal protections are
unevenly applied.

In 1989 the Special Courts Act created special three-person
security courts to deal with a wide range of offenses, including
violations of constitutional decrees, emergency regulations, some
sections of the Penal Code, as well as drug and currency offenses.
Special courts, on which both military and civilian judges sit, handle
most security related cases. Attorneys may advise defendants as
"friends of the court" but normally may not address the court.
Lawyers complain that they are sometimes granted access to court
documents too late to prepare an effective defense. Sentences are
usually severe and implemented at once. Death sentences, however,
are referred to the Chief Justice and the Head of State. Defendants
may file appellate briefs with the Chief Justice.

In December authorities convicted 35 women on charges of
"disturbance" and "raising riots" in an apparently rigged trial (see
Section 2.a.).

The Government dissolved the respected Sudanese Bar Association
in 1989 and reinstated it with an NIF-controlled leadership.
Lawyers who wish to practice must maintain membership in the Bar
Association. The results of the September election of officers of the
Bar Association, marked by blatant irregularities, were nullified
under widespread suspicion of fraud by supporters of the NIF. Bar
Association elections were conducted again in December. The
NIF-associated group won overwhelmingly, again amid accusations
of blatant fraud. Human rights monitors report that the Government
continued to harass, detain, and torture members of the legal
profession whom it viewed as political opponents.

The Government officially exempts the 10 southern states, whose
population is mostly non-Muslim, from parts of the Criminal Act.
However, the Act permits the possible future application of Shari'a
law in the south, if the state assemblies so decide. No reports cited
court-ordered hudud punishments, other than lashings, in
government-controlled areas of the south. Fear of the imposition of
Shari'a law remained a key issue in the rebellion.

Parts of the south and the Nuba Mountains fell outside effective
judicial procedures and other governmental functions. According to
credible reports, government units summarily tried and punished
those accused of crimes, especially for offenses against civil order.

Sentences were announced during the year for persons accused in
the 1996 coup attempts. Reports of the secret trials indicated that
12 defendants were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for
up to 7 years for the March coup attempt. Seven civilians and nine
soldiers were convicted in the April coup attempt and sentenced to
up to 5 years' imprisonment. Many defendants from both cases
were acquitted, including cameraman Osama Ghandi. According to
Human Rights Watch, Ghandi retracted his confession in court and
showed scars that resulted from beatings used to obtain his

Magistrates in SPLM/A-held areas follow a Penal Code roughly
based on the 1925 Sudan code. In rural areas outside effective
SPLM control, tribal chiefs apply customary laws. In 1996 the
SPLM proclaimed a civilian structure to eliminate the secret and
essentially political trials conducted by military commanders in
previous years, but at year's end there was still no evidence to
indicate that any such civilian trials had been held.

The Government maintains that it holds no political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or

The Government routinely interferes with its citizens' privacy.
Security forces frequently conducted night searches without
warrants. They targeted persons suspected of political crimes, and
in the north, persons suspected of making alcoholic beverages,
which are illegal.

Security personnel routinely opened and read mail and monitored
telephones. The Government continued to restrict the ownership of
satellite dishes by private citizens through use of its licensing

A Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim, but a Muslim woman
cannot marry a non-Muslim, unless he converts to Islam. However,
this prohibition is not universally observed, particularly in the south
and among Nubians. Non-Muslims may adopt only non-Muslim
children; no such restrictions apply to Muslims.

Various government bodies have decreed on different occasions
that women must dress according to modest Islamic standards (see
Sections 1.c. and 5.).

The Government razed thousands of squatter dwellings in
Khartoum during the year. Most inhabitants knew that their homes
were slated for destruction but not when it would occur. Bulldozers
typically arrived unannounced in a neighborhood and carried out
the razing the same day. Although the Government promised to sell
the inhabitants a plot of land for approximately $145, many were
made homeless temporarily. Usually, the inhabitants established
temporary shelters on the site of their razed dwellings until they
could gain title to a plot of land. Muslims who did not have
sufficient money to purchase the land and construct a dwelling
could obtain assistance from Islamic charities; others could not. By
September the Khartoum state government had begun to implement
procedures to grant title and move squatters in advance of

A wide network of government informants conducted pervasive
surveillance in schools, universities, markets, workplaces, and
neighborhoods. The Government disbanded political parties and
prevented citizens from forming new political groups. The
Government continued to summarily dismiss military personnel and
other government employees whose loyalty was suspect. The
government committee set up in August 1995 to review cases of
persons summarily dismissed since the 1989 coup in theory
continued to function. However, no results have been released since
May 1996.

Government-instituted neighborhood "popular
committees"--ostensibly a mechanism for political
mobilization--served as a means for monitoring households'
activities. These committees caused many citizens to be wary of
neighbors who could report them for "suspicious" activities,
including "excessive" contact with foreigners. The committees also
furnished or withheld documents essential for obtaining an exit visa.
In high schools, students were sometimes pressured to join
pro-regime youth groups.

Both the Government and rebel factions continued to conscript
forcibly, including high school age children (see Section 6.c.).

The insurgent SPLM/A is not known to interfere with privacy,
family, home, or correspondence in areas that it controls, although
correspondence is difficult in war zones.

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law In
Internal Conflicts

Since the civil war resumed in 1983, more than 1.5 million people
have been killed as a result of fighting between the Government and
insurgents in the south. The civil war continued unabated, and all
sides involved in the fighting were responsible for abuses in
violation of humanitarian norms. At year's end, the Government
controlled virtually all the northern two-thirds of the country, but
had lost significant areas of the southern third to the SPLA. In
January insurgents operating under the NDA moved from small
scale activities in the areas that border Ethiopia and Eritrea to
larger scale attacks. Government aircraft and helicopter gun ships
bombed or attacked civilian areas in the south and, according to
African Rights, in the Nuba Mountains. The NGO Christian
Solidarity International reported government bombing of villages in
Blue Nile province.

Government aircraft dropped bombs near Moyo and Koboko in
Uganda. The Government admitted that the Moyo bombing was in
error, but did not comment on the Koboko bombing.

Government forces routinely killed rebel soldiers captured on the
battlefield. Only a small group of prisoners captured before the
1989 coup are reported held as prisoners of war in
government-controlled areas. These persons are believed to be held
in Juba and were visited by the ICRC in past years.

Government restrictions in practice limited or denied travel by relief
nongovernmental organizations to many areas long controlled by
insurgents. The U.N.'s Operation Lifeline Sudan, a coalition of
relief/aid NGO's, was allowed to operate in the south.

Rape of women is committed by members of both parties to the
conflict in the south. Both sides routinely displaced and often killed
civilians or destroyed clinics and dwellings intentionally during their
offensive operations.

Insurgent forces along the border with Eritrea laid land mines,
which caused casualties to civilian travelers as well as to military

Northern Muslim opposition groups under the 1995 NDA umbrella
structure, which includes the SPLA, took military action against the
Government. The NDA attacked government garrisons and
strategic points near the Ethiopian and Eritrean borders and seized
a number of villages during attacks in January. Its forces also
indiscriminately laid land mines on roads and paths, which killed
and maimed both soldiers and civilians. The SPLA has taken a
number of prisoners over the years, many during its offensive from
October to December 1995. The ICRC regularly visited many of
these prisoners, but was refused permission to visit SPLA criminal
and civil prisoners. The SPLM/A has returned some prisoners of
war to the Government under parole.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Government severely curtails freedom of speech and press.
Government intimidation and surveillance, fostered in part by an
informer network, continued to inhibit open, public discussion of
political issues.

Journalists practice self-censorship.

On December 1, security forces severely beat 50 women who
attempted peacefully to deliver a petition to the U.N. offices in
Khartoum. A total of 36 women were subsequently arrested and
charged with "disturbance" and "raising riots." The women were
tried that night in a public order proceeding whose outcome
apparently was predetermined by the authorities. All except one of
the women were fined approximately $6 each; the other woman
was lashed 40 times. Of the five defense lawyers, the male lawyer
was fined approximately $300, and the four female lawyers were
sentenced to 10 lashes each, on undetermined charges. The
Government failed to condemn, investigate, or discuss the action,
and both the brutal attack and the rigged trial apparently were
intended to intimidate and humiliate opponents of the regime.

The Government strictly controlled the print media, including
government dailies, but eased its restrictions in May. It modified the
November 1996 Press and Publications Law. It changed, among
other things, the composition of the Press Council, which overseas
journalism and media affairs. Some lively discussions of domestic
and foreign policy have taken place in the press since then.
However, in mid-May police detained and released on bail Alwan
reporter Ishraga Al-nour for writing that the inadequate training of
the Popular Police resulted in injuries, threatening public safety.
The Popular Police eventually withdrew the charges against her. At
least five privately owned daily newspapers operated as of year's
end. Al-rai Al-akher resumed publishing in June, having won a
court case against the Government dating to its closure the
previous year. A wide variety of Arabic and English publications
are available, but they are subject to censorship. All journalists,
even in the privately owned Arabic daily press, still practice

Radio and television are controlled directly by the Government and
are required to reflect government and NIF policies. Sudan
television has a permanent military censor to ensure that the news
reflects official views.

The Government often charged that the international, and
particularly the Western, media have an anti-Sudan and anti-Islam
bias.  In spite of the restrictions on ownership of satellite dishes,
citizens have access to foreign electronic media; the Government
does not jam foreign radio signals. In addition to its own domestic
and satellite television services, Sudan television offers a pay cable
network of six channels, which directly rebroadcasts uncensored
Cable News Network (CNN), the London-based, Saudi-owned
Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Dubai TV, and
Kuwait TV. Rebel movements have provided relatively few
opportunities for journalists to report on their activities.

Academic freedom does not exist. Public and most private
universities, closed since January largely as a result of NIF students'
efforts to influence by violence the outcome of student government
elections, reopened in October. The closure effectively ended
academic debate, which had included a vigorous campus polemic
with pro-NIF and anti-Government sentiments prominently
displayed and heard. Before the January closure, the Government
had used political criteria whenever possible in appointing new
faculty members.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The declaration of the state of emergency and of martial law on
June 30, 1989, effectively eliminated the right of assembly, and the
Government severely restricted this freedom. The authorities
permitted only government-authorized gatherings. The Government
dispersed several unapproved demonstrations during the year. In
December security forces beat and arrested approximately 50
women who had tried to deliver a petition to the U.N. offices in
Khartoum. Thirty-six women were charged with "disturbance" and
"raising riots" (see Section 2.a.). The Government dissolved all
political parties in 1989, and prohibits citizens from forming new
political groups or other associations. In 1989 the Government
dissolved the Bar Association and reinstated it under NIF leadership
with highly controlled elections. All lawyers who wish to practice in
Sudan must maintain membership in the organization (see Section

Professional association members accused the Government of
manipulating the elections in many associations. In November,
journalists severely criticized the Government's manipulation of
Journalists' Union elections in November to ensure victory by
progovernment candidates. In Bar Association elections held in
December, the NIF-associated group won overwhelmingly amid
accusations of blatant fraud.

c. Freedom of Religion

Although the Government has stated that all religions should be
respected and that freedom of worship is ensured, in practice the
Government treats Islam as the state religion and has declared that
Islam must inspire the country's laws, institutions, and policies. The
1994 Societies Registration Act replaced the controversial
Missionary Societies Act of 1962. It theoretically allows churches
to engage in a wider range of activities than did the missionary act,
but churches are subject to the restrictions placed on nonreligious
corporations. The Government permits non-Muslims to participate
in services in existing and otherwise authorized places of worship.
The Government continued to deny permission to build Roman
Catholic churches. Some makeshift structures have been permitted.
In March authorities began to demolish multi-use Roman Catholic
church buildings in the Kalakala area of Khartoum state. This is
believed to be the first attack on legally owned church property in
Sudan. The Khartoum state government publicly claimed that the
demolitions were part of village planning. The church's attorney
discussed rebuilding the structures with the authorities. While
non-Muslims may convert to Islam, the 1991 Criminal Act makes
apostasy (which includes conversion to another religion) by
Muslims punishable by death.

Authorities continued to restrict the activities of Christians,
followers of traditional African beliefs, and other non-Muslims, and
there continued to be reports of harassment and arrest for religious
beliefs and activities.

Muslims may proselytize freely, but non-Muslims are forbidden to
proselytize. Foreign missionaries and religiously oriented
organizations continued to be harassed by authorities, and their
requests for work permits and residence visas are delayed.

Children who have been abandoned or whose parentage is
unknown--regardless of presumed religious origin--are considered
Muslims and can only be adopted by Muslims. Non-Muslims may
adopt only other non-Muslim children. No equivalent restriction is
placed on adoption by Muslims. Foundlings or other abandoned
children are considered by the State to be Sudanese citizens and
Muslims and therefore can only be adopted by Muslims. In
accordance with Islamic law, Muslim adoptees do not take the
name of their adoptive parents and are not automatic heirs to their

PDF trainees, including non-Muslims, are indoctrinated in the
Islamic faith. In prisons, Government-supported Islamic NGO's
offer inducements to, and pressure on, non-Muslim inmates to
convert. Islamic NGO's in war zones are reliably reported to
withhold food and other services from the needy unless they
convert to Islam. Children, including non-Muslim children, in camps
for vagrant minors are required to study the Koran, and there is
pressure on non-Muslims to convert to Islam (see Section 5).

In rebel-controlled areas, Christians, Muslims, and followers of
traditional African beliefs generally worship freely.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel,
Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government restricted freedom of movement by denying exit
visas to some categories of persons, including policemen and
doctors. The Government also kept lists of political figures and
other citizens not permitted to travel abroad. A leading lawyer and
advocate of human rights, Ghazi Suleiman, was not permitted to
travel to the West because the Government includes him on such a
list. Because of tensions with Egypt, the authorities denied many
requests for travel to that country.

Women may not travel abroad without the permission of their
husbands or male guardians. Some former political detainees were
forbidden to travel outside Khartoum. Movement was generally
free for other citizens outside the war zones, but those who failed
to produce an identity card at checkpoints risked arrest. Foreigners
needed permits, which were difficult to obtain and often refused,
for domestic travel outside of Khartoum. Foreign diplomats,
however, could travel to many locations under government escort.
Foreigners must register with the police on entering the country,
seek permission to move from one location to another, and
reregister at each new location within 3 days of arrival.

Foreign NGO staff sometimes had problems obtaining entry visas or
work or travel permits once they had entered the country.

Insurgent movements also required that foreign NGO personnel
obtain permission before traveling to areas that they control,
although they generally granted such permission. In July the SPLM
detained a Roman Catholic priest who sought to enter one of their
zones without a valid permit and returned him to the aircraft in
which he arrived for dispatch back to Kenya.

Tens of thousands of persons, largely southerners and westerners
displaced by famine and civil war, continued to live in squatter
slums in the Khartoum area. According to the Khartoum state
government, a master plan seeks to upgrade conditions in some
camps, requiring movement of populations to other areas so that
roads may be built or enlarged and services established. The
Khartoum state government is in contact with foreign NGO's and
U.N. agencies concerning this effort. During the year, the
Government razed thousands of squatter dwellings in Khartoum
(see Section 1.f.).

The Government cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian assistance
organizations and accorded refugees relatively good treatment.
UNHCR statistics for 1996 estimated that there were 1 million
refugees, with 148,000 in camps and 750,000 scattered in urban
areas throughout the country.

The Government provides first asylum, although no figures are
available for 1997.

There were no reports of forcible repatriation of refugees,
regardless of their status. Some reports cited mistreatment of
refugees, including beatings and arbitrary arrests. Refugees could
not become resident aliens or citizens, regardless of their length of
stay. The Government allowed a large number of refugees to work.
SPLA military gains in the areas across the Uganda border enabled
a number of Sudanese refugees to return to Sudan. According to
the UNHCR, as many as 223,720 Sudanese refugees remained in
Uganda; some left camps and returned to Sudan in the wake of
SPLM/A seizure of areas north of the Sudan-Uganda border.
Refugees fled from Sudan to Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya.

On September 22, Action Contre le Faim's humanitarian activities
were abruptly halted by the SPLM/A without explanation on
undefined security grounds. The organization was forced to leave
SPLM-controlled areas within 72 hours.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to
Change Their Government

Citizens had no genuine opportunity to change their government
peacefully. The NIF retains control of the Government and seeks to
ensure that its vision of national institutions including, ultimately, a
new constitution would prevail.

The Government established a committee to draft a constitution in
July, under the leadership of widely respected legal figures.

In 1989 the RCC abolished all political parties and temporarily
detained the major party leaders. In 1990 the RCC rejected both
multiparty and one party systems, establishing 2 years later an
entirely government-appointed transitional national assembly, based
on a Libya-style political structure with ascending levels of
nonpartisan assemblies. The essentially powerless appointed
legislature was replaced following the 1996 elections by an elected
National Assembly, in which 125 of its 400 members were
appointed from the National Convention. Opposition parties
boycotted the election.

The federal system of government was instituted in 1995, and is
slowly developing a structure of 26 states, which the Government
sees as a possible inducement to the insurgents for accommodation
through a principle of regional autonomy.

Women are underrepresented in government and politics. The
Minister of Health is the only woman in the Cabinet. Women have
the right to vote. Seats in the National Assembly are set aside for
representatives of women's organizations and for female student
representatives. Twenty-five women are members of the
400-person National Assembly.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human

Due to government restrictions on freedom of association (see
Section 2.b.), there are no independent domestic human rights
organizations; however, individual human rights activists operate in

The Human Rights Advisory Council, a government body whose
rapporteur is the Solicitor General for Public Law, continued its
active role in addressing human rights problems within the
Government. The Advisory Council issued two reports in June. One
detailed the inadequate results of a judicial commission inquiry into
events in Juba in 1992 (see Section 1.b.). The other was a report of
the special commission charged with the investigation into
allegations of slavery (see Section 6.c.).

The Government continued efforts begun in 1996 to implement
international conventions and basic human rights practices. U.N.
Special Rapporteur on Sudan Gaspar Biro visited in January and
again in September. However, his January visit coincided with
insurgent attacks north and south of the Blue Nile, and the
Government stated that it could not ensure his security. He left the
country immediately. The Government's invitation to the U.N.'s
Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery remains open.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability,
Language, or Social Status

A governmental decree prohibits discrimination based on religion or
sex. Redress is provided through the administrative courts or the
Labor Office. The 1992 General Education Act stipulates equal
opportunity in education for the disabled. Mechanisms for social
redress, especially with respect to violence against women and
children, are particularly weak.


Violence against women continues to be a problem, although
accurate statistics on violence against women do not exist. Many
women are reluctant to file formal complaints against such abuse,
although domestic violence is a legal ground for divorce. The police
do not normally intervene in domestic disputes. Displaced women
from the south were particularly vulnerable to harassment, rape,
and sexual abuse. The Government did not address the problem of
violence against women, nor was it discussed publicly.

Some aspects of the law and many traditional practices discriminate
against women. Gender segregation is common in social settings. In
keeping with Islamic law, a Muslim woman has the right to hold
and dispose of her own property without interference. Women are
ensured inheritance from their parents. However, a daughter
inherits half the share of a son, and a widow inherits a smaller
percent. It is much easier for men to initiate legal divorce
proceedings than for women. These rules apply only to Muslims
and not to those of other faiths, for whom religious or tribal laws
apply. Although a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim, a Muslim
woman cannot marry a non-Muslim unless he converts to Islam.
Women cannot travel abroad without the permission of their
husbands or male guardians (see Section 2.d.).

A number of government directives require that women in public
places and government offices and female students and teachers
conform to what it deemed an Islamic dress code. This, at the least,
entailed wearing a head covering. However, enforcement of the
dress code regulations was uneven.

Credible but unconfirmed reports continued that women held in
special camps in the south were sold to northerners to work as
domestic servants (see Section 6.c.).


A considerable number of children suffered serious abuse, including
enslavement and forced conscription in the war zones. There
continued to be credible but unconfirmed reports of the existence of
special camps in the south in which people from the north or from
abroad came to purchase women and children for work as domestic
servants (see Section 6.c.)

Education is compulsory through grade eight. The Government
forcibly conscripted young men and boys into the military forces, as
did the insurgents. In June the Government decreed that young
men, typically of ages 17 to 19 must enter military service to be
able to receive a certificate on leaving secondary school. Such a
certificate is a requirement for entry into a university, and the
decree effectively broadened the conscription base. In September
the Government attempted to send a number of such youths to
combat zones for advanced military training, presumably for
ultimate incorporation into the SPAF. A number of youths fled at
the airport, which resulted in considerable public attention and
press criticism.

The Government has operated camps for vagrant children. Police
periodically patrol the streets of Khartoum and other major cities,
taking children whom police personnel deem homeless to these
camps, where they are detained for indefinite periods. Health care
and schooling at the camps are generally poor; basic living
conditions are often primitive. All the children, including
non-Muslims, must study the Koran, and there is pressure on
non-Muslims to convert to Islam (see Section 2.c.). Teenagers in
the camps are often conscripted into the PDF.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by
international health authorities as damaging to both physical and
psychological health, is widespread, especially in the north. An
estimated 90 percent or more of females in the north have been
subjected to FGM, with consequences that have included severe
urinary problems, infections, and even death. Infibulation, the most
severe type of FGM, is also the most common type. It is usually
performed on girls between ages 4 and 7. It is often performed by
traditional practitioners in improvised, unsanitary conditions,
causing severe pain and trauma to the child. No form of FGM is
illegal under the Criminal Code. However, the health law forbids
doctors and midwives from performing infibulation. Women
displaced from the south to the north reportedly are increasingly
imposing FGM upon their daughters, even if they themselves have
not been subjected to it. The Government has neither arrested nor
prosecuted any persons for violating the health law against

Two local NGO's with funding from the U.N. and a government
agency are actively involved in efforts to eradicate FGM, which
they describe as a "harmful practice." A small but growing number
of urban, educated, families are completely abandoning the practice.
A larger number of families, in a compromise with tradition, have
adopted the least severe form of FGM as an alternative to

People With Disabilities

The Government does not discriminate against disabled persons but
has not enacted any special legislation or taken other steps, such as
mandating accessibility to public buildings and transportation for
the disabled. The 1992 General Education Act requires equal
educational opportunities for the disabled.

Religious Minorities

Muslims predominate in the north, but are in the minority in the
south, where most people practice traditional African religions or
Christianity. There are 1 to 2 million displaced southerners in the
north who practice traditional African religions or Christianity.
About 500,000 Coptic Christians live in the north.

Government and SPLM/A delegations met with IGAD in
September and participated in IGAD-mediated peace talks in
Nairobi in October and November. The delegations discussed the
role of religion in national affairs and the predominantly
non-Muslim Southern region's right to self-determination. Further
meetings are scheduled for 1998.

In government-controlled areas of the south, there continued to be
credible evidence of an unwritten policy of Islamization of public
institutions. In the past, some non-Muslims lost their jobs in the
civil service, the judiciary, and other professions. Few non-Muslim
university graduates found government jobs. Some non-Muslim
businessmen complained of petty harassment and discrimination in
the awarding of government contracts and trade licenses. There
were also reports that Muslims receive preferential treatment for
the limited services provided by the Government, including access
to medical care.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Sudan's estimated population of 27.5 million is a multiethnic mix of
over 500 Arab and African tribes with scores of languages and
dialects. The Arab, Muslim culture in the north and central areas
and the non-Muslim, African culture in the south are the two
dominant cultures. Northern Muslims, who form a majority of
about 16 million, have traditionally dominated the Government. The
southern ethnic groups fighting the civil war (largely followers of
traditional African religions or Christians) seek independence, or
some form of regional self-determination, from the north.

The Muslim majority and NIF-dominated Government continued to
discriminate against ethnic minorities in almost every aspect of
society. Citizens in Arabic-speaking areas who do not speak Arabic
experienced discrimination in education, employment, and other
areas. The use of Arabic as the medium of instruction in higher
education discriminated against non-Arabs. For university
admission, students completing high school are required to pass
examinations in four subjects: English Language; Mathematics;
Arabic Language; and religious studies. Even at the university level,
examinations in all subjects except English Language were in
Arabic language, placing non-native speakers of Arabic at a

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The RCC abolished the pre-1989 labor unions, closed union offices,
froze union assets, forbade strikes, and prescribed severe
punishments, including the death penalty, for violations of its labor
decrees. The Government dismissed many labor leaders from their
jobs or detained them, although most of those arrested were later

The Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation is the leading
blue-collar labor organization with about 800,000 members. In
1992 local union elections were held, after a delay to permit the
government-controlled steering committees to arrange the
outcomes. The elections resulted in government-approved slates of
candidates voted into office by prearranged acclamation.

The U.S. Government in 1991 suspended Sudan's eligibility for
trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences because
of its violations of worker rights.

Unions remained free to form federations and affiliate with
international bodies, such as the African Workers' Union and the
Arab Workers' Union. 

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

A 1989 RCC constitutional decree temporarily suspended the right
to organize and bargain collectively. Although these rights were
restored to labor organizing committees in 1996, government
control of the steering committees meant in practice that the
Government dominates the process of setting wages and working
conditions. The continued absence of labor legislation allowing for
union meetings, filing of grievances, and other union activity greatly
reduced the value of these formal rights. Although local union
officials raised some grievances with employers, few carried them
to the Government.

Wages are set by a tripartite committee comprising representatives
of the Government, labor unions, and business. Specialized labor
courts adjudicate standard labor disputes.

In 1993 the Government created two export processing zones
(EPZ's); it later established a third at Khartoum international
airport. During the year, only the EPZ at Khartoum International
Airport was open. The labor laws do not apply in the EPZ's.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Although the law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, slavery
persists. According to the report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur,
reports and information from a variety of sources after February
1994 indicate that the number of cases of slavery, servitude, slave
trade, and forced labor have increased alarmingly. The taking of
slaves, particularly in war zones and their export to parts of central
and northern Sudan continued. There also continued to be credible,
but unconfirmed, reports continue that women and children were
sold and sent to the north or abroad to work as domestic servants,
agricultural laborers, and sometimes concubines. The national
government did not take any action to halt these practices. Credible
reports persist of practices such as the sale and purchase of
children, some in alleged slave markets. In 1996 representatives of
Christian Solidarity International arranged the purchase of children.
The average price per child was reportedly about $300 worth of
cattle, or $500 if the purchaser was a Westerner.

Reliable reports indicate the direct and general involvement of the
SPAF, the PDF, and government-supported armed militias in the
abduction and deportation of civilians from the conflict zones to the
north. These practices all have a pronounced racial aspect, as the
victims are exclusively black southerners and members of
indigenous tribes of the Nuba Mountains.

In some instances, local authorities took action to stop slavery; in
other cases, the authorities did nothing to stop the practice. In
response to a resolution of the 1995 U.N. General Assembly, the
Government in May 1996 established a Special Commission to
Investigate Charges of Slavery (see Section 1.b.), including the
reported use of Nuba children as house servants by military officers.
In a preliminary report issued in June, the Commission concluded
that Nubans are not working as forced labor on ranches given to
government supporters; and that house servants of military and
civilian government officials are paid fixed salaries in accordance
with the relevant statute.

Both the Government and rebel factions continued to forcibly
conscript men of military age into the fighting forces (see Sections
1.f. and 5). For example, in February a group of national service
trainees was unexpectedly taken to Khartoum and flown to Juba,
where the trainees were expected to serve in combat. Conscripts
face significant hardship and abuse in military service. The rebel
factions continued to force southern men to work as laborers or

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for

The law prohibits forced child labor; however, the Government
does not effectively enforce it (see Section 6.c.). The legal
minimum age for workers is 16 years, but the law is loosely
enforced by inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and in the official
or wage economy. Children as young as 11 or 12 years of age
worked in a number of factories, particularly outside the capital,
including the factories at Um Ruwaba that produce edible oils. In
addition severe poverty has produced widespread child labor in the
informal, unregulated economy. In rural areas, children traditionally
assist their families with agricultural work from a very young age.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The legislated minimum wage is enforced by the Ministry of Labor,
which maintains field offices in most major cities. Employers
generally respect the minimum wage. Workers who are denied the
minimum wage may file a grievance with the local Ministry of
Labor field office, which is then required to investigate and take
appropriate action if there has been a violation of the law. The
minimum wage continues to be approximately $8.25 (14,000
Sudanese pounds) per month, which is insufficient to provide a
decent standard living for an average worker and family. The
workweek is limited by law to six 8-hour days, with a day of rest on
Friday. Although the laws prescribe health and safety standards,
working conditions were generally poor, and enforcement by the
Ministry of Labor minimal. The law does not address the right of
workers to remove themselves from dangerous work situations
without loss of employment.

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