KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Security forces raided the Sudanese Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday, just weeks after jailing its former leader, the monitoring group’s leader said, in what activists fear is a widening crackdown ahead of a presidential election in April.
The government has increased pressure on political parties and civil society organisations that have expressed sympathy with armed rebels that it considers traitors.
The former head of the Observatory was arrested this month after signing a largely symbolic unity deal with opposition parties and rebels.
Sudanese authorities did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment. A source from the group said the security forces confiscated computers and documents and detained a journalist who was not affiliated with the group but was attending a workshop in the building.
“The observatory has a licence from the state and operates in accordance with the law,” group head Nabil Adeb said by telephone after the raid.
He said the observatory was the only independent voluntary organisation monitoring violations of human rights in Sudan.
Sudan’s ruling party last month chose President Omar al-Bashir, wanted on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Court (ICC), as its candidate for the vote, making it almost certain that he will extend his 25-year rule.
Bashir has appeared emboldened after the ICC shelved its probe into war crimes in Darfur for lack of support at the UN Security Council. The charges against Bashir and others remain, although the prosecutor has said she will “hibernate investigative activities”, for the time being.