The Sudanese authorities have deported 30 Eritreans, including at least 6 registered refugees, to Eritrea, Human Rights Watch said today. Sudan did not give the UN refugee agency access to the group. Unknown numbers of detained Eritreans recently convicted of immigration offenses in Sudan also risk deportation.
“Sudan is forcibly returning Eritreans to serious risk of detention and abuse at the hands of a brutal government,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Sudan should immediately end these deportations and protect Eritreans.”
Eritrea, ruled by an extremely repressive government, requires all citizens under 50 to serve in the military for years. Anyone of draft age leaving the country without permission is branded a deserter, risking five years in prison, often in inhumane conditions, as well as forced labor and torture. In 2012, 90 percent of all Eritreans claiming protection in other countries were recognized as refugees or given other forms of protection.
On May 1, 2014, Sudanese authorities in eastern Sudan handed 30 Eritreans over to Eritrean security forces, according to two advocates in close telephone contact with the group at the time. Human Rights Watch also obtained further credible information confirming that the deportation took place and that six members of the group were registered refugees.
Sudanese security forces arrested the group of 30 in early February near the Libyan border and detained them for three months without charge and without access to the UN refugee agency, the two advocates said.
International law forbids countries from deporting asylum seekers without first allowing them to apply for asylum and considering their cases. This right applies to asylum seekers regardless of how they enter a country or whether they have identity documents. International law also prohibits the deportation, return, or forced expulsion of anyone to a place where they face a real risk to their life or of torture or ill-treatment.
On May 3, two Eritreans from a different group told a third advocate that a few days earlier Sudanese security forces had intercepted them and about 600 Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis, and Sudanese nationals attempting to cross the border to Libya. They said the police had taken them to the town of Dongola, about 500 kilometers north of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, where they were charged and convicted of immigration offenses.
On May 4, Sudanese media reported that a court in Dongola had convicted 600 people and ordered all the Eritreans in the group to be deported to Eritrea.
In October 2011, Sudan unlawfully deported over 300 Eritreans to their country.