Khartoum death camps: Another face of war’s curse

Khartoum death camps: Another face of war’s curse
Sudan conflict- AFP

The cost of the Sudanese war is increasing as the fighting continues and expands. The civilians became the easiest target with the increased use of long- and short-range artillery by both sides of the conflict, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the constant flight of aircraft in the sky of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.


But this is not the only aspect of the humanitarian catastrophe. There is the terrible economic situation of those stranded in the cities that are witnessing continuous bombing in Khartoum, Al-Obeid, and Nyala, in addition to the deteriorating human rights situation, especially in areas controlled by the RSF.


“Both sides violated the laws of war and did not hesitate to arrest civilians, but the members of the RSF were the cruelest transgressors,” Mohamed Al-Amin, a young Sudanese man who recently fled Khartoum, told Jusoor Post.


In response to a question about the number of missing people since the outbreak of fighting on April 15, Al-Amin said that it is difficult to estimate the number due to both sides of the conflict using the issue of missing persons in their counter-propaganda.


“Each party uses the issue of missing and forcibly disappeared persons to demonize the other party. Each party posted video clips on social media of individuals saying that they were released from the prisons of the other party. In this way, the issue of missing people is politicized and rights are lost,” he added.


Emergency Lawyers, an independent body, recently issued a report titled “Khartoum Death Prisons”. According to the report, of which Jusoor Post obtained a copy, Khartoum has turned into a large prison for civilians, where arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and illegal detention have increased in the prisons of the RSF and SAF.


“Detainees are subjected to wide types of torture and cruel treatment, including starvation, sexual assault and even death inside detention centers,” the report said.


Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, applicable during non-international armed conflicts, requires that all persons in custody, including captured combatants and civilians, be protected against “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” No sentences may be handed down except by a “regularly constituted court” meeting international fair trial standards, said a recent publication by Human Rights Watch on Sudan. 


The Sudanese Penal Code 19991 also criminalizes crimes of murder, kidnapping, luring, unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, forced labor, torture and rape.


According to the Emergency Lawyers report, the number of documented detention centers within Khartoum State reached 44 centers affiliated with the RSF and eight centers affiliated with the SAF. Some of these centers are temporary and others are permanent.


The conditions and number of detainees vary. While most RSF detention centers are in the ground floors of residential buildings or university buildings, SAF detention centers are in hangars or abandoned buildings on the margins of military bases.


“Detainees on both sides are subjected to interrogation under horrific torture, such as hanging by the legs, electric shocks, and extinguishing cigarette butts. They are also forced to do hard work, such as digging graves. Starvation is used as a means of torture by both sides of the conflict, in addition to sexual assaults against males and females,” Al-Amin told Jusoor Post.


The Emergency Lawyers report confirmed that the two parties violated several international human rights treaties, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.