Rights groups concerned over 12 detained Sudan students

KHARTOUM: Global rights groups on Wednesday expressed concerns for the safety of 12 Sudanese student activists detained without charges after protests in Khartoum university.

The powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested 10 activists in a May 5 raid on the office of a prominent human rights lawyer while they were in a meeting, the groups said.

Another two were detained two days later in a village outside Khartoum.

Students from the University of Khartoum have held near daily protests in the past few weeks demanding the release of fellow pupils detained at previous demonstrations.

"There are serious concerns for the safety of the students who have been denied access to their families and lawyers," said a joint statement by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).

Urging the Sudanese authorities to release them, the organisations said the 12 activists were being "detained incommunicado and without charges by NISS".

Those detained had been recently dismissed or suspended from studies at the University of Khartoum following protests on the campus, the statement said.

"Sudanese authorities must immediately cease all arbitrary restrictions and abuses against human rights defenders, student activists and others," Mossaad Mohamed Ali of the ACJPS said in the statement.

Prior to the arrests of the 12 activists, three other students had also been detained and accused of attacking a police officer during a protest at the university, the rights groups said.

The "well-documented use by the NISS of torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees gives rise to serious concerns for their safety," the statement said.

NISS has wide-ranging powers and in recent days has cracked down on students holding protests in universities.

In April, two students were killed while they were holding protests. — AFP