Filmmakers Probing Sudan Weapon Report Were Tortured, Group SaysBy
British, Sudanese nationals were captured in Darfur last year
Two were probing Amnesty claims of chemical weapon use
Sudanese security forces tortured a British filmmaker and a local translator captured while investigating claims authorities used chemical weapons in the African country’s Darfur region, Amnesty International said.
Filmmaker Phil Cox and Darfuri translator Daoud Hari were abducted in late 2016 and imprisoned for six weeks before being freed, the London-based rights group said Wednesday in a statement. Cox had been commissioned by British broadcaster Channel 4 to investigate an Amnesty report that chemical weapons had been used against civilians in Darfur’s Jebel Marra area between January and August last year.
“They were beaten, subjected to electric shocks, deliberately deprived of oxygen and subjected to mock executions,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, said of Cox and Hari’s treatment. “If no chemical weapons were used, then why not let the journalists get on with their job?”
Phone calls to Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman didn’t connect. Sudan’s mission to the United Nations said the country doesn’t own any kind of chemical weapons and described allegations of their use by Sudanese armed forces as “baseless and fabricated.”
Amnesty in September said it had gathered “credible evidence” of at least 30 likely chemical attacks in Jebel Marra that may have killed as many as 250 people. It cited testimonies from caregivers and survivors. The United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that month that it wasn’t possible to draw any conclusions from the Amnesty report without further evidence.
Amnesty said the two were abducted by members of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces and, after spending a week chained to a tree in North Darfur, were moved to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. There, they spent six weeks with other detainees, “dozens of whom were being held without charge,” the group said.