Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1990

On June 30, 1989, in a bloodless coup d'etat, a group of
brigadiers and colonels in the Sudanese People's Armed Forces
(SPAF), led by Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, overthrew Sudan's
3-year-old democratic government, then headed by Prime
Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi . The Omar Governinent controls most of
Sudan, excluding large areas of the south controlled by the
Sudanese People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), led by
John Garang. The coup leaders formed a National Salvation
Revolution Command Council (RCC) of 15 military officers and
imposed a strict curfew, suspended Sudan's 1985 transitional
constitution, abrogated press licenses, and dissolved all
political and trade union institutions. The RCC justified the
coup by condemning Sadiq 's government for corruption and
ineffectiveness, especially in economic policies and in its
failure to end the civil war with the SPLA/M.
Numbering about 75,000, the SPAF is responsible for Sudan's
internal and external security. Martial law, in effect in
government-controlled areas of the south for some time, now
extends to the north as well. A state of emergency (SOE) that
permits various arbitrary government actions has been
periodically renewed outside the south since 1985. Although
government spokesmen promised removal of the SOE, it remained
in effect throughout 1990, jointly enforced by the military,
the police, and the Ministry of Interior. In particular, the
new Popular Defense Forces, which loosely incorporate
militia/tribal armed groups, committed many human rights
abuses in 1990.
Sudan's economy is primarily agricultural. Although the
country is trying to diversify its cash crops, cotton and
cottonseed still account for more than 50 percent of export
earnings. The economy has been devastated by the civil war,
which according to official government estimates costs perhaps
$1 million per day, as well as by high unemployment, up to
800,000 refugees from neighboring countries, and perhaps 3
million displaced persons among the Sudanese. Using
government-controlled prices as input, official estimates
placed inflation at 43.6 percent in the first 6 months of
1990, but international economic experts believe the real
inflation rate was about 115 percent.
Serious human rights violations in Sudan intensified in 1990.
The RCC continued its suspension of due process, using
arbitrary arrests and searches, imprisonment without charge,
and trial of civilians by military courts. Government
security officials often took harsh measures against
journalists. The RCC used summary justice in executing 28
military officers for participation in a coup attempt in
April. Government security services, often inadequately
controlled by higher authorities, as well as unofficial groups
of security personnel, detained and interrogated numerous
civilians, including academics, doctors, lawyers, judges,
trade unionists, and journalists, and tortured many. There
were no reported prosecutions in Sudan in 1990 for violations
of human rights. Some labor organizations were reconstituted
under government control. The continuation of Islamic law
(Shari'a) in Sudan remained a major cause of southern
disaffection, but the implementation of its more severe
punishments continued to be suspended, as it has been since
The civil war continued unabated in 1990, with many civilian
casualties. Government forces and government-armed militias
committed many human rights abuses, especially in the south,
as did the SPLA/M (although reports from SPLA/M-controlled
areas are more fragmentary) . Military operations by both
sides have left large areas of Sudan largely unpopulated and
plagued by banditry, especially along the Ugandan, Chadian,
and Zairean borders. Few of the 3 million displaced persons
(including 1 million near Khartoum) were resettled. Many
still lack proper food, clothing, shelter, and medical care.
During 1990 the SPAF, its affiliated militias, and the SPLA/M
interfered with relief efforts and attacked civilians.
Government suspension of relief flights into the south,
decreed in November 1989, continued until April 1990, greatly
hampering relief efforts. At year's end, relief flights were
still restricted. Both sides delayed resumption of relief
activities by extensive negotiations on the establishment of
Operation Lifeline Sudan, Phase II (OLS II). Government
customs regulations and actions by security forces also
hindered relief agencies. Despite a rec[uest from the French
Embassy, the Government did not investigate the shooting down
of a relief airplane in December 1989. In April both sides
agreed on an OLS II program, but movement of relief supplies
often was still blocked. At the end of 1990 the prospects for
mass starvation in Sudan loomed large.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Government and unofficial forces were implicated in some
instances of extrajudicial killing. In March Dr. Ali Fadl
Ahmed Fadl, an active member of the doctors' union, died in
the Omdurman military hospital. Although the official autopsy
found that Dr. Fadl died of cerebral malaria, he had also
suffered severe head injuries under torture in a safe house
operated by the "Security of the Revolution," an unofficial
security organization condoned by the Government and
reportedly supported by some RCC members. Unconfirmed reports
also suggested at least one other person died of torture in
May while in detention, and others interrogated or arrested by
security officers were threatened with death.
After an abortive coup in April, at least 28 military
officers, including 3 retired generals and a brigadier, were
executed within 24 hours after cursory trials. At least six
of these officers were in prison at the time of the coup, and
some human rights observers therefore questioned whether there
was a real coup attempt. The abolition of Sudan's formerly
vigorous press hampered reporting of human rights abuses.
      b. Disappearance
There were a number of reported disappearances. In one case,
a woman in Juba reportedly disappeared in May after being
detained by security officials, and the whereabouts of some
other detainees could not be established. Both tribal
militias and the SPLA/M were accused of abductions for forced
labor, and reports also indicated that militias forced
displaced Dinkas, especially children, into slavery. Other
reports were received of disappearances, in the civil war
zone, of southerners suspected of supporting the SPLA/M,
probably at the hands of government-sponsored militia.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Both government and SPLA forces were accused of ill-treatment
of civilians (see Section l.g.). In 1983 under President
Nimeiri, the Sudanese government adopted a version of Shari'a
(Islamic) law that prescribes harsh corporal punishments
called "Hudud, " also known as the "September laws," Similar
provisions were proposed to the former, constituent assembly in
1988 after the inclusion of the National Islamic Front (NIF)
in the Government. The assembly set aside the proposal
without rejecting it. Hudud punishments include amputation,
hanging, and beheading, and such sentences were handed down in
Although major Hudud punishments remained officially
suspended, in August two persons convicted in 1984 of multiple
murders were hanged and subsequently crucified in Darfur—
a punishment some authorities considered application of the
Hudud. Some of those sentenced to Hudud punishments still
remain imprisoned, although the Government announced a plan to
arrange for commutation of sentence on payment of "blood
money" and did free some prisoners. In a January 1, 1991,
address General Omar declared he would implement Shari'a, but
only in Sudan's largely Muslim northern provinces and only
after a federal system had been implemented. The SPLA/M
strongly rejected suggestions that national plebiscite on
Shari ' a be held.
By contrast, sentences of flogging were routinely passed and
carried out. Reports indicated that the standard sentence for
drinking alcohol was 40 lashes. Such punishments are often
inflicted summarily by police or security forces. Numerous
reports were also received of summary beating and jailing of
civilians for other minor offenses, such as brewing alcoholic
drinks (a common economic sideline for southern women) or
operating sidewalk businesses without a license.
Formerly uncommon in Sudan, torture and other forms of
physical mistreatment by official and unofficial security
forces were widespread in 1990, according to numerous highly
credible reports. Beginning in late 1989 and extending into
1990, the Security of the Revolution began using commandeered
safe houses (in Khartoum, often former union headquarters) to
hold detainees suspected of activity against the Government.
A similar organization, the "Youth for Reconstruction," also
reportedly operated in 1990. Those detained included union
activists, suspected Communists or other "leftists,"
university professors, civil servants, and medical
personnel—the latter especially after a doctors' strike in
late 1989. Detainees were subjected to varying forms of
torture, including whipping and clubbing; electric shock;
extraction of fingernails with pliers; the kicking and
breaking of ribs or infliction of head injuries; choking with
ropes; blindfolding for days at a time; deprivation of food,
water, sleep, and access to toilet facilities; confinement in
overcrowded and unsanitary quarters; deprivation of medical
care; and psychological torture, such as mock executions.
Some military officers and RCC members were identified as
supporters or members of the Security of the Revolution
group. However, other officials, especially prison
authorities, reportedly were shocked at these abuses and
protested to government leaders. Those held by the Security
of the Revolution were usually detained for several weeks
while being tortured and interrogated, then turned over to
regular prisons. Not all, however, were tortured, and some
were held only for a few days and released without questioning
as a form of psychological intimidation.
The Government announced a reorganization of the security
forces in June, but reports suggested that mistreatment by
security officers, including torture of detainees, continued
in numerous locations, including Khartoum, Kosti, and Juba.
Such mistreatment was also inflicted by some army personnel.
An army sentry in Khartoum was observed over a 30-minute
period beating two apparent curfew violators and forcing them
to assume painful positions.
Although reports agreed that prison officials did not in
general participate in mistreatment of prisoners, conditions
in some prison facilities, especially Shalla prison near El
Fasher in Darfur, were cruel. Political detainees and
suspected SPLA/M sympathizers were confined with criminals and
the mentally ill and subjected to overcrowding, deprivation of
water under conditions of extreme heat, unsanitary living
conditions causing typhus and other diseases, lack of medical
treatment, and denial of access to family and friends.
Detainees were also held on the roof of security headquarters
in Khartoum in overcrowded conditions in searing heat with
limited food and inadequate toilet facilities.
Security services, often operating with limited control by
higher authorities, also abused foreigners. Foreigners
working in Sudan were threatened with death or bodily injury,
forcibly held without charge, and beaten. In one case,
members of a Western diplomatic mission in Khartoum were
attacked by numerous security personnel and beaten.
Government officials apologized for the incident, blaming it
on a gang masquerading as security officers.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Sudan's Criminal Code continued substantially unchanged in
1990. Arrests must be followed by a statement of charges
within a prescribed time, and the accused is to be brought
before a court within 48 hours of arrest, informed of the
charges, and allowed legal counsel. Bail is permitted except
in some capital cases. But the state of emergency and martial
law after the coup permit the Government wide powers of arrest
and preventive detention for an indefinite period.
Although the Sadiq government held relatively few political
detainees, the situation changed rapidly after the coup on
June 30, 1989. The Omar Government suspended legal due
process and declared a nationwide state of emergency (SOE)
that gave the Government wide-ranging arbitrary powers. The
Government initially detained without warrants more than 300
people. Although many of these were freed by the end of 1989,
they were replaced by other detainees, especially academics,
alleged leftists, labor activists, and journalists, some of
whom were held incommunicado. Government officials made clear
that they believed unions had been a major source of Sudan's
problems and that the Government would brook no union
challenge to its authority. Military authorities in southern
and western areas reportedly incarcerated numerous persons
without charge on suspicion of cooperation or sympathy with
the SPLA/M.
General Omar announced in August that the Government would
review the cases of detainees and set free many of those
imprisoned. Despite this statement, which resembled earlier
commitments by government leaders, there were an estimated 300
to 500 political detainees in Sudan at year's end; some
reports placed the number of detainees as high as 1,000.
Among those in detention at the end of 1990 were approximately
22 physicians and other medical personnel. About 10 of these
had been imprisoned since 1989; the others since April/May
1990. In February, 36 detainees were released but placed
immediately under house arrest. Since August the Government
has released at least 70 detainees, including journalists,
lawyers, and physicians.
There were no known cases of involuntary exile from Sudan in
1990, although a report was received of a merchant suspected
of antiregime activity who was forced to leave Juba, his
hometown and place of business, and forbidden to return.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Under the Sadiq government, the Sudanese legal system involved
a variety of courts, including the Supreme Court, civil,
criminal, and Shari'a (Islamic) courts. The abolition in 1986
of the executive power to form special state security courts
ensured that the regular criminal courts would try all
prisoners. Such proceedings involved extensive guarantees of
due process, including arrest pursuant to a warrant, public
trials before a three-judge panel, the right of defendants to
speak and present evidence on their own behalf and to obtain
counsel, and appeals through a series of courts to the High
Court of Appeals. Tribal law continues to be important in
rural areas, where disputes largely involve land, water, and
family concerns.
Both the judicial system and the judiciary changed after the
coup. One of the RCC ' s first decrees on June 30, 1989
transferred all power over Sudan's constitution and laws to
the RCC. The same decree also provided that existing laws
remained valid and that nonpolitical constitutional
institutions continued in force, although the courts would be
required to enforce any changes in the laws approved by the
RCC. The judiciary was transferred to the Ministry of
Justice, and the Chief Justice, formerly elected by sitting
judges, was appointed by General Omar. The Criminal Code was
amended to include RCC decrees as well as the SOE law and the
1983 penal statutes (the September laws). Numerous judges
were removed and replaced by RCC appointees. In September, 60
judges, several of whom were Coptics, were fired and replaced
by supporters of Muslim fundamentalists.
The dual court system developed in 1989 continued to operate
in 1990. Civilian courts were short of staff and less
independent of the executive. They applied the 1983 Criminal
Code to try ordinary criminal offenses, including theft and
even some capital crimes; civil cases continued to be handled
largely according to previous laws, generally derived from
British colonial models. Other courts were established to
monitor conformity with government-established prices for
certain goods.
After experimenting with various forms of special courts, the
RCC in November 1989 passed the Special Courts Act, which
established the main form of alternative court. According to
this Act, the military governors of the regions and the
conunissioner of the national capital can form special security
courts to try persons accused of violations of constitutional
decrees, emergency regulations, and some sections of the penal
code, including drug crimes and currency exchange violations.
The special security courts may be composed of three military
officers or any three competent persons; those created have
both military and civilian judges. Attorneys can sit with
defendants as "friends of the court" and advise them but
cannot themselves address the court. Sentences are to be
implemented immediately, except that death sentences must be
approved by the Chief Justice and the Head of State.
Defendants may file appeal briefs with the Chief Justice. In
1990 the Government referred most security cases to these
The special security courts quickly became noted for their
severe sentences. Several defendants tried before these
courts for drug crimes or currency violations were sentenced
to death. Some of those given death sentences in 1989 were
executed in 1990, often under hasty and confused conditions.
In September a special court in Port Sudan convicted 16
defendants of attempted smuggling of rice and flour,
sentencing 3 to death (although the sentences were not carried
out) and the remainder to prison terms ranging from 1 to 14
years. In February a court in Omdurman had 226
currency-violation cases pending. These courts, however, did
acquit some defendants, including two defendants in the
smuggling case and most of those accused in a series of trials
for possession of antigovernment leaflets.
An RCC decree on June 30, 1989, allowed the seizure of land,
money, or commodities for the public welfare without
reimbursement and the seizure of the property of businesses
suspected of resisting the Omar Government (pending legal
determination of the case), as well as the imposition of
prison terms and fines. This decree was used to enforce price
controls with little due process. Many merchants convicted
under this decree received sentences considered unusually
severe for violations of commercial law.
In practice, the special courts applied a mix of precoup laws
and postcoup decrees. The Attorney General's office allegedly
monitors trials of political prisoners, but it appears to have
limited interest in or influence over the process.
In late 1990, the Government began to carry out a number of
unannounced executions, including at least one person
convicted of armed robbery in 1986. The circumstances
surrounding these executions were shrouded in secrecy, and it
was not known whether political prisoners were included.
Large areas of the south are controlled by the SPLA/M.
Reports indicated that a rudimentary system of justice based
on village leaders was being used in some of these areas, and
a similar system of justice was authorized by the Government
late in 1989 for the war-torn province of South Kordofan. In
SPLA/M-controlled areas, a trusted village elder is appointed
to adjudicate disputes, as well as to collect taxes and
recruit soldiers and labor for the SPLA/M. SPLA/M officials
can be tried and reportedly have been punished for criminal
offenses. Other portions of the south are outside effective
judicial procedures, and defendants often are not provided due
process. Some reports suggest that army units summarily try
and punish those accused of crimes, especially offenses
against civil order.

      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Government surveillance in Sudan, outside the combat zones,
was rare before the coup. After June 30, 1989, security
agencies considerably expanded both the scope and intensity of
their activities. Numerous credible reports were received in
1990 of petty harassment of civilians and surveillance of
church services by security officers. Mail is sometimes
opened and read, and express mail (formerly a common method of
transmission for journalists) must be read by government
officials before being sent. Credible reports indicated that
surveillance of persons, especially suspected dissidents,
became more widespread in 1990. After their release from
detention in February, Sadiq al-Mahdi and former Communist
Party head Mohammad Ibrahim Nugud were confined to house
arrest, their families were kept under surveillance, and all
visitors other than family rec[uired government permission.
After the coup, the Government instituted neighborhood
"Popular Committees." These groups of volunteers use their
control over the rationing system for basic commodities to
monitor household size and composition. They also furnish
documents essential for obtaining an exit visa from Sudan.
Searches without warrants, often in nighttime raids, became
common, particularly in cases of suspected political or
economic crimes. Security officers conducted a number of
warrantless searches of the homes of journalists, seizing
personal papers and money. In another case, the home of a
local employee of a U.S. -based nonprofit organization was
raided without warrant at 2 a.m. Property belonging to the
organization was seized, and the employee was detained.
Similar warrantless raids, including confiscation of property,
were conducted on the premises of foreign-owned companies
operating in Sudan, often with little or no explanation.
Security officers made efforts to prevent contact between
Sudanese and foreigners, including investigation of some
Sudanese suspected of "excessive" contact with foreigners. In
May the Government officially protested social contacts
between the wives of the U.S. and British ambassadors and the
wives of former politicians. In another incident, a western
researcher talking in a hotel with a Sudanese was approached
by a security officer, who told the Sudanese not to have
further contact with her. The officer then took the
researcher to a security office for a brief interrogation
about the conversation and her activities in Sudan, after
which she was set free. No confirmed reports were received of
forcible repatriation of refugees in 1990; one alleged
instance in January appeared to involve the expulsion of
economic migrants.
      g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
Both government forces and government-affiliated militias as
well as the SPLA/M used excessive force.
The Sudanese Air Force (SAF) indiscriminately bombed several
towns, killing civilians. In February the SAF bombed the town
of Moyo in Uganda, killing five civilians. Repeating a
similar incident in June 1989, SAF planes on June 5 dropped
some 20 bombs on the Eastern Equatoria town of Torit, an
SPLA/M headquarters and a center for humanitarian relief
activity. The Torit attack killed 17 civilians and wounded at
least 50, including patients in a hospital (which was badly
damaged) and primary school students. In late September and
again in November, the SAF bombed SPLA/M-held towns, including
Bor, causing civilian casualties and jeopardizing the
extensive U.N. and International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) relief activities in those areas. Reports of similar
bombings were received from Kajo Kaji after its fall to the
SPLA/M, from Mongalla (north of Juba), and from various towns
and villages in SPLA/M-controlled areas.
SPAF soldiers prevented civilians from leaving the besieged
town of Juba and killed several who attempted to do so,
effectively making the civilians prisoners in the town. SPAF
soldiers also took relief vehicles in Juba for military use.
Government forces and government-armed militias were accused
of attacking groups fleeing the widening area of the conflict,
preventing civilians from growing their own food through
indiscriminate planting of land mines and confiscating relief
supplies intended for civilians for sale on the black market.
The Popular Defense Forces (PDF) Act of November 1989 was
intended to place government-sponsored tribal militias under
military control as parts of the PDF. Senior military
officers, however, disclaimed responsibility for the
militias. Many militia enrolled in the PDF, and the
Government continued to arm and supply the militias. These
government-sponsored tribesmen (especially members of the
Misseria, Fertit, Taposa, and Ruzeigat tribes) frequently
attacked their longstanding tribal opponents, particularly the
Dinka, the most important source of support for the SPLA/M.
Such tribal conflicts reportedly killed hundreds of civilians
in 1990.
Some observers considered militia depredations, which often
included indiscriminate killing and looting, worse than in
1989. Particularly severe militia attacks on civilians were
reported from White Nile Province and Kordofan, especially in
the Nuba Mountains. In one instance, a priest in a Nuba
Mountain village reportedly was tortured to death in a militia
attack, local churches were burned, and the inhabitants were
killed. Instances of enslavement of displaced persons,
especially Dinkas, by militia members were reported (see
Section 6.c.). In a tribal clash at a camp for displaced
persons near Khartoum in March, Nuer tribesmen who had
received automatic weapons and anti-Dinka propaganda in the
PDF program used the firearms in a skirmish with Dinka
residents, killing 15. Expansion of the PDF to Khartoum and
other areas outside the civil war zone suggested establishment
of a politicized force parallel to the regular military and
No arrests for violations of humanitarian law were reported.
Some 69 persons, largely members of the Sabha tribe, were
arrested for involvement in the massacre of an estimated 1,000
'shilluks at El Jebelein in December 1989. All those arrested
were freed after a reconciliation agreement between the two
tribes was reached and payments of cattle and money were
made. Despite a request from the French Embassy, there was no
government investigation in 1990 into the downing of a light
plane belonging to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) France over
Aweil in December 1989, which killed three French citizens and
one Sudanese. As a result of this incident, MSF France left
Although information on its operations is more difficult to
obtain, the SPLA/M also reportedly committed numerous abuses.
On several occasions SPLA/M forces conducted indiscriminate
mortar and rocket attacks on the city of Juba, killing more
than 40 civilians and wounding many others. These attacks,
which were accompanied by radio broadcasts urging civilians to
flee, seemed intended to terrorize the inhabitants.
SPLA/M forces also were accused of planting antipersonnel
landmines near Juba in areas frequented by noncombatants . The
SPLA/M issued threats (never acted upon) to shoot down any
plane, including relief flights, attempting to land at the
Juba airport.
SPLA/M abuses were also reported from other locations. The
SPLA/M reportedly armed tribal militias in the Nuba
mountains. Reports indicated extensive pillaging and shooting
of civilians by SPLA/M forces along the Sudan-Ethiopia
border. An SPLA/M mortar and rocket bombardment of Kajo Kaj
in January killed at least five civilians and forced thousands
to flee on foot to Juba. When SPLA/M fighters entered Kajo
Kaji, they reportedly raped and robbed civilians and tortured
and killed suspected government informants. In February
SPLA/M raiders in Malakal kidnaped two physicians from MSF
Belgium and later released them unharmed. In the aftermath of
this incident and perceived government hostility, MSF Belgium
left Sudan.
Despite a July 1989 peace agreement in El Fasher between the
Fur tribe and government-armed groups that had been attacking
them, Darfur in the west was also the scene of humanitarian
abuses. Government-armed Zaghawa tribesmen reportedly
attacked the Fur in March, killing 69 people, and similar
attacks during the year reportedly resulted in the burning of
numerous Fur villages.
Both sides in the civil war took prisoners, although the SPAF
reportedly held only SPLA/M officers. The ICRC experienced
difficulties in visiting prisoners, and the number visited was
only a small portion of the prisoners reportedly held by both
Although both the Government and the SPLA/M interfered with
relief operations in 1990, government obstructions—often
using the pretext of security concerns—particularly hindered
movement of relief supplies. The Government ban on relief
flights into the south until April virtually suspended relief
operations for a long period. Even after resumption of relief
activities under OLS II in April, movements were held up by
lengthy negotiations between the Government and the SPLA/M
over apportionment of supplies and government concerns that
airlifts disproportionately benefited the SPLA/M. Heavy
mining on some southern roads greatly obstructed movement of
relief convoys by land. Civilians suffered mistreatment by
some local townspeople, attacks by armed militias, occasional
military harassment of relief workers, and lack of
humanitarian assistance from the army and SPLA/M themselves.
Movement of food supplies by land to Juba, the largest town in
the south, was blocked by the SPLA/M, forcing the 300,000
residents to rely on the uncertainties of an airlift.
While civilian deaths in the civil war and tribal fighting
were again high in 1990, interference or failure of both sides
in the civil war to cooperate with food relief efforts, the
closure of airspace to relief flights, government corruption
and inefficiency, and lack of medical treatment continued to
be the major causes of death in the areas affected by the
civil war in 1990. Reports of starvation were increasing at
year's end, and demonstrations in several cities because of
lack of food were suppressed by police, causing several
civilian deaths. The relief situation remains precarious and,
at the end of 1990, thousands of civilians were dependent on
intermittent cooperation by the Government and the SPLA/M with
each other and with donors and relief agencies.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
From 1986 to 1989, Sudan enjoyed substantial freedom of
speech, and a diverse and active free press, at least outside
the war zone, which often if not always reliably reported on
human rights abuses. Radio, television, and the Sudanese News
Agency (SUNA) were and remain under government control and
tend to reflect government policies. Since the coup, freedom
of speech has been more limited. In March a plainclothes
security officer reportedly overheard a woman in north
Khartoum grumbling about a lack of commodities in the shops.
He took her to the nearest security office, where she was
fined and given 25 lashes. In September taxi drivers in
Omdurman reportedly were beaten by police for declaring that
they had no fuel—a statement interpreted by the police as
opposition to the Government. Sudanese abroad who made
statements criticizing the Government were reportedly
blacklisted and their families threatened. Debate in
government-sponsored conferences on various issues, however,
was open and lively and at times at variance with government
The coup on June 30, 1989, radically changed the situation of
the print media. All newspapers except the Armed Forces
Journal were initially banned, and licenses for all
nongovernment publications were canceled. The Government
later authorized two government-controlled general daily
newspapers, Modern Sudan and National Salvation. They were
joined in 1990 by two other government-sponsored publications,
the weekly English-language newspaper New Horizon and the
revived English monthly Sudanow. Although these publications
usually present government views and do not criticize
government policies, they occasionally go beyond stated
government positions in their Islamic fundamentalist and
anti-Western attitudes. In May the Government banned four
specialized Arabic-language newspapers for going beyond their
permitted coverage of social and cultural affairs to cover
political and economic issues. Special courts in 1990
sentenced people to jail terms for possession of
antigovernment leaflets. Telex operators reportedly refused
to send press reports over their lines, fearing loss of their
licensed facilities. In all, about a dozen journalists were
detained in Sudan at year's end.
In 1990 several foreign journalists were able to visit and
report from Sudan. Some journalists, however, were refused
visas to enter the country, and security officials detained
several reporters in Khartoum. Alfred Taban, a part-time BBC
correspondent of Sudanese nationality, was detained in March
and remained imprisoned until October. Julian Ozanne, a
British national and reporter for the Financial Times, was
detained for 10 days. His hotel room was searched, and
personal and professional papers were seized. When he was
released, the Government banned him from Sudan. Nizar
Hindawi , an Egyptian and the local correspondent for Reuters,
was detained for 5 days and also left Sudan. For several
months after Taban's detention and Hindawi ' s departure, no
correspondents associated with Western media remained based in
The campaign against external media also extended to
forbidding the import or sale of some foreign newspapers and
magazines. Early in 1990 the Government accused several
Egyptian newspapers of conducting a campaign against the
Sudanese Government and banned them from Sudan. This action
was followed in September by the banning of all remaining
Egyptian newspapers and magazines after a number of attacks on
the Sudanese Government appeared in the Egyptian press.
Academic freedom in Sudan was generally respected in the past,
but several incidents in 1990 suggest much tighter government
control over academic activities. A professor of biology was
detained and tortured for his "leftist" views, reportedly
including discussion in class of the theory of evolution.
Another professor was detained for a month and interrogated
and beaten, apparently because of his secularist academic
views. Some academics allegedly were questioned by informal
security groups about their political opinions. In November
the Government dismissed numerous academics from their
positions, most on political grounds. The Goverment tightened
control over faculties by replacing elected administrators
with government appointees. These events made many professors
reluctant to expound their views.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Declaration of the SOE and of martial law on June 30, 1989,
effectively eliminated the right to protest, and some
demonstrations in 1990 were forcibly broken up by police.
Others, including a short protest by families of detained
persons and a funeral procession by Coptic Christians for a
deacon hanged for currency violations, were permitted. Before
the coup, Sudan had many political organizations and parties,
and professional and business organizations met regularly. On
June 30, 1989, the RCC dissolved all political parties and
effectively disbanded all nonreligious groups. Blamed by the
Government for most of Sudan's problems, political parties
remained banned in 1990, and RCC officials vowed Sudan would
never return to the multiparty system. Although
reregistration of nonprofit voluntary groups proceeded in fits
and starts, the continued ban on political activity kept such
organizations from resuming the active political role some had
played before the coup.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Sudan is a multireligious country in both fact and law. Islam
and Christianity have been formally recognized as religions of
Sudan, but adherents of other beliefs are not legally
restricted. Muslims are a majority in the five northern
regions and the capital, although the presence in these areas
of over 3 million displaced persons from the south (an area
predominantly Christian and animist) has altered this
balance. Foreign clergy may enter Sudan with certain
restrictions. They are most likely to be admitted if they
have certain technical skills, such as publishing, difficult
to obtain in Sudan. Clergy without special skills are less
likely to be admitted. In general, clergy are admitted to
serve their own religious communities. Proselytizing by
Muslims is allowed, as is proselytizing by Christians of
non-Muslims; but proselytizing of Muslims is discouraged and
can provoke reactions by the public and the Government.
Believers are free to engage in religious education and to
participate in religiously related charitable activities.
Despite these provisions, Islam has traditionally been favored
by the Government. Under the Foreign Missionary Society Act
of 1962, public Christian religious activity is subject to
close government supervision. Among other provisions, the Act
forbids the construction of churches without government
permits, none of which has been issued for more than 10
years. The Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference (SCBC) and the
Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) persistently protest against
the Act, whose broad provisions are often capriciously
interpreted by local officials.
Christian leaders also protested in 1990 the Government's
practice of making time on radio and television available for
Muslim religious programming while severely restricting
Christian use of broadcast media. In September General Omar
announced a program of government subsidies restricted to
Muslim religious leaders. Several incidents exacerbated
sectarian tension in 1990. Church services in several cities
were reportedly monitored by security officers. Religiously
related nongovernmental organizations, especially relief
associations such as Sudanaid, were repeatedly harassed bysecurity,
customs, and other government agencies, often to
force them to turn over equipment to the Government.
Increasingly rigid government control of alcohol reduced
access by some churches to communion wine. In March a local
mob in Dongola that included an off-duty policeman invaded a
church service, beating some parishioners. The policeman was
arrested but quickly released.
In April expatriate Catholic priests were ordered to leave
several towns in Kordofan. Although the move was allegedly
for their protection, several of the towns were not in the war
zone. Removal of the priests severely hampered relief and
religious services. Later that month, land in the Khartoum
area belonging to the Catholic Church was arbitrarily
expropriated by government authorities, apparently to prevent
construction of a school on the site. In July a Roman
Catholic priest in Khartoum was questioned about a church
publication for youth. Although the priest was not detained,
the publication was discontinued. In November security
officers canceled on very short notice a conference on peace
and development planned by the Sudan Council of Churches,
declaring that the existence of a government position on peace
made further discussions unnecessary.
Despite these incidents, most religious organizations
continued to function essentially as before the coup.
Although religiously related relief organizations experienced
difficulties in renewing their government registration,
churches and similar bodies were exempted from the 1989 law
requiring reregistration of voluntary organizations.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Freedom of movement in Sudan is hampered by the civil war, a
limited transportation infrastructure, and government
restrictions. Exit visas, required to leave Sudan, have been
used to restrict travel abroad. Authorities maintain lists of
Sudanese citizens not permitted to travel, and security
officials sometimes make arbitrary decisions on the issuance
or cancelation of exit visas. A married Sudanese woman must
have the permission of her husband or another male relative to
travel abroad, and regulations specify that unmarried Sudanese
women must travel with a family member or other sponsor. The
travel restrictions for women, generally ignored before the
1989 coup, have since been increasingly enforced. Reports
were received in 1990 of several women who were refused
permission to board at Khartoum airport because security
officials did not believe they had the required permission or
escort. Foreigners must register with the police on entering
the country, obtain permission to move from one location to
another, and register again at the new location within 3 days
of arrival.
After the coup, the RCC Government imposed additional travel
restrictions. A curfew was instituted in much of Sudan, and
suspected curfew violators are subject to detention or summary
floggings. Regulations also strictly limit the amount of hard
currency a traveler may carry out of Sudan. Death sentences
have been handed down for violators of these regulations.
Although in practice most Sudanese have experienced little
difficulty in leaving the country, numerous individual
citizens and some categories of persons (such as journalists
or security suspects) are often refused exit visas. Sudanese
may move about the country freely, although they are required
to carry identity cards and those found without them at one of
the numerous checkpoints may be summarily beaten. This
regulation appeared to be applied especially to southerners in
northern urban areas. The Omar Government tightened internal
travel restrictions on foreigners (especially diplomats),
principally by requiring travel permits that can be very
difficult to obtain.
Although information from SPLA/M-controlled areas is more
limited, some reports suggested greater freedom to travel in
SPLA/M-dominated Eastern Equator ia. One foreign observer who
traveled to several towns in that area discovered no security
checkpoints and found no difficulty in moving from one town to
The situation of most displaced persons and refugees changed
little in 1990, although the numerous obstacles to relief,
including the long suspension of relief flights, hampered
efforts to assist the displaced. Inability to resolve the
civil war left the number of displaced persons at about the
1989 level of some 3 million, many of whom were concentrated
in shantytowns and scjuatter huts in and around Khartoum. When
it became operational in late April, OLS II was able to move
relief supplies fairly regularly to several locations,
although it was hampered by both government and SPLA actions
throughout the year.
Groups of displaced persons were removed from the Khartoum
area from time to time, often involuntarily. In July
thousands of displaced were strongly encouraged by the
Government to leave Khartoum for the south, where they were
falsely promised that food would be available. In late 1990,
the Government began a campaign to move thousands of displaced
persons from Khartoum to areas further from the city. In
October, when authorities arrived to destroy a scpjatter
settlement near Khartoum, hundreds of displaced persons
resisted. The police responded by firing tear gas, then live
ainmunition, into the crowd, killing 1 girl and wounding 7 to
10 others. In November the Government forcibly relocated
several thousand displaced persons from Bentiu camp near
Khartoum to a poorly prepared site at Jebel Aulia, an hour's
travel from the city. The Government apparently has plans but
no resources to resettle large numbers of the displaced. Many
refugees and displaced persons existed on limited allowances
of food and lacked medicine and other necessities. Incidents
of starvation were rising at the end of 1990.
Sudan's refugee population (largely composed of Ethiopians,
Ugandans, and Chadians) was about 800,000 at the end of 1990,
of whom 386,000 are assisted by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) . Sudan has not forced the
repatriation of refugees and has generally accorded them good
treatment, although years of influx have nearly exhausted the
meager resources available for refugee assistance. There is
frequent harassment of Ethiopian refugees in Khartoum.
Resettlement of refugees to third countries proceeded more
smoothly in 1990 than in previous years.
Large numbers of refugees have settled in the cities,
especially the capital area. Like most non-Sudanese, refugees
are restricted in their freedom to travel, to own real
property, and to practice certain professions. They also are
not permitted to become resident aliens or citizens of Sudan,
regardless of the length of their stay. Urban refugees face
many problems. Reports are common of police harassment and
petty thievery against refugees, beatings for minor
infractions of the law, administrative obstruction and delays,
and the need for small bribes to obtain everything from work
permits to food-ration cards. Refugees seldom have recourse
to the legal system when attacked by policemen.
Ethiopian Jews (Falashas) are reluctant to identify themselves
as such when applying for refugee status with the Government,
probably because of Sudan's history of antipathy toward and
ill-treatment of Ethiopian Jews. In July the Government
approved a UNHCR-organized voluntary repatriation to Ethiopia
of the 54 publicly identifiable Falashas in Sudan. This group
had been interned in Umrakoba camp since 1984. In contrast to
the Falashas' previous conditions of internment, UNHCR
protection officers were allowed access to this group, and
their nutritional and health conditions were substantially
The Omar Government did not change the policy of the Sadiq
Government, instituted in 1987, of accepting genuine political
refugees but refusing refugees from famine. In January,
several hundred refugees determined to be economic migrants
were forcibly returned to Ethiopia.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
At the end of 1990, a military regime ruled, and the people of
Sudan had neither the legal right nor the ability peacefully
to change their government. Government spokesmen declared
that this situation will not change soon. In September 1989,
the RCC issued its "Third Constitutional Decree" establishing
a new governmental system for Sudan, featuring a head of state
(General Omar) with sovereign powers. The all-military RCC
continued as the legislative authority. A cabinet was
established, consisting of a Prime Minister and other
ministers, all appointed by the RCC. The Cabinet was given
essentially administrative authority, subject to the Head of
State and the RCC. The courts were brought under the Head of
State's supervision, and courts were specifically forbidden to
review acts of the RCC or the head of state.
Under the Sadiq government, Sudan enjoyed a multiparty
democratic system under which deputies were freely elected to
a unicameral constituent assembly. Most of the major parties
under this system were religiously based. When they assumed
power on June 30, 1989, the military leaders justified their
action largely by citing the ineffectiveness of the democratic
government. Claiming sectarian bickerirtg was harmful to
Sudan, they abolished all political parties, seized (and later
distributed) the parties' assets, and detained (albeit in
relatively mild conditions) the leaders of many precoup
parties. Most of the political leaders were released in late
1989 or 1990, but the RCC continued its ban on all political
activity and political parties, and General Omar and other
government leaders inveighed against any return to a
multiparty system. In October the RCC concluded a National
Dialogue Conference which rejected both a multiparty and
one-party system in favor of a political structure based on
ascending levels of nonpartisan assemblies. The
recommendations parallel ideas of the National Islamic Front.
Under both the Sadiq and Omar Governments, local and
provincial officials were appointed by the authorities in the
capital. Most local officials appointed since the coup have
been military officers.
The military Government initially publicly assigned a high
priority to ending the civil war. However, by the end of 1990
there had been little movement on the issue, and the
Government and the SPLA/M remained far apart on peace
proposals. John Garang, the leader of the SPLA/M, has called
for a "restructured, unified Sudan, a multinationality
country." The Government has also supported a unified Sudan,
but proposed a federal system of government. Major
differences revolve around the extent of Shari'a law and what
constitutes "legitimate political forces" in the country. The
Government insists that only it and the SPLA should
participate in negotiations; the SPLA wants the officially
banned political parties and trade unions also to take part.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The Government has traditionally been sensitive to local and
foreign criticism of its human rights performance. Local
human rights activists in Sudan have complained of being
regarded as subversive. Many of the relatively few activists
have been detained since the coup, often under very harsh
conditions. One activist, an American permanent resident of
Iranian nationality working as a U.N. volunteer, was
interrogated and threatened by security officials in March and
subsequently expelled from Sudan. The Government did not
institute any public investigations of alleged human rights
abuses in 1990. Before the coup, several organizations
monitored human rights in the country, including the Sudan
Human Rights Organization (SHRO), the Sudan Bar Association
(SBA), the SCBC, and the SCC. The SHRO was dissolved by the
Government after the coup, and the Sudan Bar Association was
brought under government control. Neither produced any
reports on human rights abuses in Sudan in 1990, although some
human rights activists operated clandestinely. The SCBC and
the sec still exist and monitor and publicize human rights
concerns, especially those involving religious
discrimination. Several Christian leaders in the SCBC and the
sec issued a statement in February condemning indiscriminate
attacks on southern towns by the SPLA/M and government forces.
Some international human rights groups, especially the ICRC,
work actively in Sudan. Two members of the RCC received an
Amnesty International delegation in November 1989, and the
Government permitted several groups of foreign human rights
activists to visit Sudan in 1990. Although these delegations
were able to visit some detainees, they were hampered by
government restrictions on their activities and were often
refused requests to visit certain persons or facilities.
On June 14, the European Parliament passed a "sense of the
parliament" resolution condemning human rights abuses by the
Government of Sudan and urging suspension of programmable
assistance from the European Commission to Sudan. Following
up on this resolution, a joint delegation from the European
Community (EC) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific
countries related to the EC by the Lome IV Convention
requested permission to visit Sudan in July to examine the
human rights situation. The Government reportedly placed
strict conditions on the visit, and in response the delegation
canceled the visit. Subsequently, in December a delegation
from the EC was allowed to study the human rights situation in
Sudan. Although the delegation did not receive full official
cooperation, its members were able to meet some human rights
activitists and were allowed to visit Kober prison in Khartoum.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
Sudan's population of 24.5 million (1989) is a multiethnic mix
of over 500 Arab and African tribes, with scores of languages
and dialects. In general, Sudan is composed primarily of two
cultures—Arab in the north and central areas and black
African in the south. Sudanese governments have historically
been dominated by northern Muslims (about 16 million). Some
southern tribal groups, especially non-Arabs and non-Muslims,
have demanded greater economic and political power and greater
recognition of Sudan's cultural diversity.
Discrimination in the north by the Muslim Arab majority
against displaced persons from the south is common. Many
reports were received of attacks by Arab tribes against
non-Arab southerners, especially members of the Dinka tribe.
Residents of Arabic-speaking areas who do not themselves speak
Arabic are discriminated against in education, jobs, and other
opportunities. The University of Khartoum's entrance
examinations also favor Arabic speakers, and impending
arabicization of instruction in higher education will add to
this advantage. Widespread popular attitudes in northern
areas also stereotype dark-skinned non-Arabs as inferior and
lazy, leading to much informal discrimination against them.
Sudanese laws continue to favor men, and men and women
traditionally have segregated roles. Islamic laws of
inheritance award additional property to men, while
concurrently assigning them the duty of caring for their
extended families. Government regulations in 1990 moved
toward greater segregation of the sexes, including mandatory
separate seating on public transport.
Discrimination against women in professional positions also
reportedly increased, and reports were received of police
harassment of women workers in the informal sector. Education
is open to both sexes, and many women obtain university
education, but women traditionally receive less education and
have fewer opportunities than do men. Some women, however,
have been active in the professions, the media, and education,
and government sources note that some 20 women are now serving
as judges. Although not numerous, women are found in both the
police and the military; in the military, several have reached
the rank of colonel. They are also increasingly visible in
the PDF. Labor laws allegedly do not adequately protect the
self-employed, who constitute the bulk of the female work
force. One of the relatively few women's rights activists in
Sudan noted at an international conference in 1989 that
Sudanese women often do not avail themselves of the rights and
opportunities available to them, including access to the court
Female genital mutilation (circumcision) is prevalent in
Sudan. Reports indicate that this practice, although illegal,
is widespread, especially in the north. Some reports suggest
that over 90 percent of northern women have been circumcised,
with consequences that include severe urinary problems,
infections, and even death. The so-called pharaonic
( inf ibulation) circumcision, the severest of the three types,
is the most common and is usually performed between the ages
of 4 and 7 years. Few physicians will perform the operation,
which is most often done by paramedical personnel in
improvised, often unsanitary conditions, and with severe pain
and trauma to the child. The operation is expensive—it costs
approximately $111 for a 10-minute procedure. Southern women
displaced to the north reportedly are increasingly visiting
circumcision on their daughters, even if they themselves are
not circumcised.
Women refugees are particularly vulnerable to harassment and
sexual abuse. Sexual favors are reportedly demanded of them
by some Sudanese officials in exchange for performance of
official duties. Stories of rape of women refugees by
policemen are common, and women refugees without a male
provider are sometimes forced into prostitution to earn a
Among certain southern tribes, forcible sexual intercourse is
common. No blame attaches to the practice, although the man
involved must pay a price (often in livestock) to the woman's
family if she becomes pregnant. In the same area, wives are
often received on a trial basis lasting up to 4 years. The
husband may dissolve the marriage during this time by
returning the wife to her family, although he must pay a price
for each child born during this time. Returned wives are
reportedly often able to contract further marriages and are
not stigmatized by having been returned.
Although the extent to which wife beating occurs is difficult
to document, the practice reportedly is common in Sudan,
especially in polygamous families. It is not, however,
discussed as a public issue, and police do not normally
intervene in domestic disputes. There were no court cases
involving either circumcision or violence against women in
1990. However, for a variety of reasons, many women would be
reluctant to file a formal complaint of such abuse. The
Government has not addressed the issue of violence against
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Sudan had a strong labor union movement during the Sadiq
government, with numerous highly active labor unions and
professional associations. Sudanese unions lobbied actively
and participated in international, African, and Arab labor
organizations. Except for some government employees, strikes
were legally permissible after exhausting other measures to
resolve disputes. Even technically illegal strikes were
common and usually tolerated.
The RCC's Constitutional Decree Number 1 of June 30, 1989,
abolished labor unions and forbade strikes. Stiff
punishments, including the death penalty, were prescribed for
violations of labor decrees. Union offices were closed, and
union assets frozen. Government officials condemned union
activists as "Communists," although most Sudanese unions were
resolutely anti-Communist. Many labor activists were
dismissed from their jobs or detained. Although some
unionists were freed during the year, others (including some
of those arrested immediately after the coup) remained in
detention, often in very harsh conditions in Shalla prison and
elsewhere. An estimated 200 to 300 unionists were detained at
year's end.
In September 1989, General Omar announced the legalization of
preliminary committees to manage union affairs, pending the
drafting of new laws on union organization. Under this
rubric, the Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation (SWTUF), the
leading blue-collar labor organization, was restored with its
leadership unchanged and its assets returned. Other steering
committees were established in 1990, often including many of
the precoup leaders. These committees remained under control
of the Government, which could and did dismiss their members.
In April security officers dismissed Mahjoub Zubair, a strong
advocate of worker rights, from his position as SWTUF Vice
President. No new labor law was enacted in 1990, and unions
continued to operate solely by government sufferance.
Although the Government pledged to respect all labor rights
required by the International Labor Organization (ILO), it
continued to forbid strikes, as well as all labor activity by
unreinstated unions. Many unionists detained in late 1989 and
early 1990 after a doctors' strike were tortured in safe
houses (often former union offices) before being confined in
regular prisons. There were some signs, however, in 1990 of a
more conciliatory government attitude toward unions. Two
doctors convicted by a special security court in December 1989
of organizing the strike, one of whom was sentenced to death
and the other to 15 years in prison, were pardoned and
released in May. Other detained unionists were also set free
during the year—in part because of interventions on their
behalf by steering committees.
Government response to labor unrest remained harsh in 1990 but
less so than in 1989. In May several leaders of the customs
officials' steering committee in Port Sudan were detained,
triggering a wildcat protest strike by customs officers.
After 3 days, the Government released the detained officials.
When members of the railway union steering committee presented
members' grievances to the Government in May, five committee
members were detained and the committee was disbanded. Union
members in the town of Atbara struck in response. The strike
broke up after the Government threatened to fire the strikers,
but the five committee members were released. Unions are
permitted to affiliate with international labor organizations
of their own type.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Under the 1985 transitional constitution—suspended on June
30, 1989—workers had the right to organize and to bargain
collectively, and unions did so actively. There were no
official constraints on union membership, and labor laws were
applied uniformly throughout the country (although with little
effect in the war areas).
On June 30, 1989, the RCC suspended the right to organize and
bargain collectively. These rights were restored to
organizing committees in September 1989. Government control
of the steering committees, and continued absence of labor
legislation allowing union meetings, filing of grievances, and
other union activity, reduced the value of these rights.
According to a complaint filed by the American Federation of
Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations in U.S. trade
proceedings, the Sudanese Government has arbitrarily suspended
many committee leaders, replacing them with individuals more
supportive of government policies. Although local union
officials raised some grievances with employers, few carried
them to the Government. A government labor office that
handled monthly hundreds of employer-employee reconciliations
before the coup mediated only a handful in 1990. There are no
export processing zones in Sudan.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Sudanese law prohibits forced or compulsory labor.
Allegations of slavery, however, persisted in 1990, and the
issue remained controversial. Slavery reportedly exists in
those remote areas where government control is weak and where
displaced persons fleeing the war zones come into contact with
armed groups. Informed sources suggest there could be some
thousands of slaves in Sudan, largely women and children doing
agricultural and domestic work and serving as concubines.
The revival of slavery is often blamed on economic pressures
and the civil war, especially the practice of arming tribal
militias. Many slaves allegedly are Dinkas abducted by Arab
militias, especially the Rizeigat and Misseriyah. Reports
have also been received of Dinka children sold into slavery by
their parents to prevent their possible starvation. A
Catholic priest in El Obeid spoke with several adolescent
Dinkas who said they had escaped from their masters, and a
Dinka network formed to recover children from slavery
reportedly has located over 100 enslaved Dinka children.
Reports suggested that the SPLA/M often forced southern men to
work as laborers or porters or forcibly conscripted them into
SPLA ranks. In disputed territories this practice was
implemented through raids, while in SPLA/M-controlled areas it
was done through the SPLA/M-appointed village leader.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The legal minimum age for workers is 16. This law is enforced
in the official or wage economy, but poverty in Sudan produces
widespread child labor in the informal economy. In rural
areas, children from a very young age assist their families
with agricultural work.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The workweek is currently limited by law to 6 days and 48
hours, with 1 day of rest on Friday. Although the Omar
Government announced it was considering adoption of a 5-day
week, no action on this idea was taken in 1990. The
legislated minimum wage remains at the 1988 level of $67 per
month at the official exchange rate. This salary is far from
sufficient for subsistence in urban areas, and workers often
must rely on farming, second jobs, or help from the extended
family. Salaries in private industry are generally higher
than those in the public sector. Laborers receive an extra
month's pay for each year's labor. Most workers are given
allowances for transportation, and some receive housing
allowances. Labor standards are enforced in the public and
private official economies but not in rural areas or in the
informal economy.
Although Sudanese laws prescribe health and safety standards,
working conditions are generally poor, and enforcement of
environmental standards minimal . Unemployment and
underemployment are major problems, especially among young
people. Even graduates of prestigious schools often have
difficulty finding employment.
Sudan limits the legal opportunities for employment for
refugees to menial or marginally skilled jobs. Fortunate
refugees find employment with an international organization,
but most are forced to take jobs far below their training or
abilities. Rural refugees often find work as field laborers,
earning the eqxiivalent of a few pennies a day. Urban refugees
find employment as day laborers or domestic help. The lack of
legal opportunities to earn a living wage forces many into
illegal activities such as smuggling, black-marketeering,
moonshining, and prostitution.