Sudan: Darfuri journalist released

English PEN welcomes the release of Darfuri journalist Al-Ghali Yahya Shegifat on 22 July 2008 after more than two months in detention.


Al-Ghali Yahya Shegifat, President of the Association of Darfur Journalists and freelance journalist for a variety of publications, including the privately-owned daily Ray Al-Shaab,  was arrested in Khartoum on 14 May 2008 as part of a government crackdown in which over 200 individuals were detained. He had previously been briefly detained and reportedly ill treated by national security agents on 12 May. Following his second arrest, he was held incommunicado for two weeks, a lawyer reportedly managing to visit him at the end of May.


Shegifat was finally released two months later on 22 July following international pressure, including from the USA where a relative of Shegifat’s is resident. During his detention, Shegifat was reportedly beaten, shackled in stress positions in overcrowded cells, deprived of medical attention, food and sleep, and burned with cigarettes during interrogations.


English PEN did not report on Shegifat’s release previously as he was receiving death threats and feared for his safety in Sudan. In October he travelled to the USA, where he is now receiving medical treatment and has claimed asylum.



The individuals arrested at the same time as Shegifat were reportedly accused of supporting the armed opposition group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which has been fighting Sudanese government forces in Darfur since 2003 and launched an attack on Khartoum for the first time on 10 May. The arrests were understood to have been arbitrary, made on the basis of people being or appearing to be from the Darfur region or on suspicion of having sheltered JEM members. Shegifat and the other detainees were feared to be at risk of torture and extra judicial killing. One of the detainees reportedly died in detention on 19 May as a result of internal bleeding caused by severe injuries.


To read Amnesty International’s alert on this case, please click here.



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