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Sudan: UN Rights Experts condemn Charges of Death Penalty Crimes for Human Rights Activists

Tracks

A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on the Sudanese authorities to drop charges carrying the death sentence brought against six people linked to a prominent Khartoum-based organisation, Training and Human Development (TRACKS).

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 31, 2016 -A group of United Nations human rights experts today called on the Sudanese authorities to drop charges carrying the death sentence brought against six people linked to a prominent Khartoum-based organisation, Training and Human Development (TRACKS).
The six*, who were detained some three months ago but are yet to face trial, have been charged with criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the State, espionage, and terrorism by the Sudanese State Security Prosecution Office. All these charges carry the death penalty.

“The death penalty is an extreme form of punishment. lf used at all, it should only be imposed after a fair trial that respects the most stringent due process guarantees as stipulated in international human rights law,” said UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard. “I am seriously concerned that any trial of these six people would not uphold such principles.”

The six individuals have faced constant targeting by agents from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) over the past two years. Their offices have been raided twice, and their documents, equipment and passports confiscated. In addition, they say they have been summoned, detained and tortured several times at the NISS office, where they were questioned about the organisation’s activities.

“The charges brought against them appear to be directly linked to their work in the defence of human rights, while exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.

“Sudan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a binding instrument, which enshrines the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association and this sentence is likely to have a chilling effect among activists and human rights defenders in Sudan,” he added.

The human rights experts have already jointly raised their concern to the Sudanese authorities about the ongoing harassment of TRACKS members and, more broadly, about the increasing targeting and prosecution of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, in Sudan for undertaking their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

“This action is part of an increasing trend to threaten, harass, or intimidate key members of Sudanese civil society, and to curb freedoms of expression and association, which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights of the Interim National Constitution of the Sudan,” said Aristide Nononsi, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, who visited the country in April 2016. Mr Nononsi had already expressed concern about this case to the relevant Sudanese authorities. ”Human rights defenders play an important role in the country, and there is an urgent need for the Government of the Sudan to allow them to carry out their activities in an open, safe and secure environment,” he stressed.

*The six facing charges are Mr. Khalafalla Mukhtar, Director of TRACKS; Ms. Arwa Elrabie, Mr. Midhat Hamadan, and Mr. Alhassan Kheiri, TRACKS’ employees; and Mr. Mustafa Adam and Ms. Raye Imany Leyla who are affiliated to the organisation.

The experts’ appeal to the Sudanese Government has been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr. Michel Forst.

Press Statement: Inaccuracy, and biased positions of Troika would not help innocents in South Kurdofan and Blue Nile (08.06.2016)

Unbroken Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, June 7, 2016 –  The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan expresses its deep regret for the latest statement issued by the Troika  (USA – UK – Norway) on 27th of May 2016, on the situation in South Kurdofan. – The biased and unbalanced statement by the group has just repeated the old positions that don’t help bring peace to the people of the two areas, and only send the same negative signals to the rebels to continue their barbaric behavior in attacking innocent civilians without facing any consequences.

The Government of the Republic of the Sudan while confirming its commitment to the negotiations and dialogue as the only way for peace settlement in the two areas, expects clearer position from Troika towards the Road Map  by applying pressure on rebel movements who refused to sign it, sparing no efforts to impede peace process and dialogue in Sudan.
The Troika statement mentioned the Road Map but still there is a lack for strong position and firm commitment towards it.

The claims mentioned in Troika’s latest statement about the expulsion of the Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan  is completely inaccurate. The acting official was granted his work permission in January 2014 on the basis of transitional period, the Government has renewed his stay permit for extra period ends in June 2016 waiting for a new nomination for the position and still waiting for that.

The Government of Sudan while reiterating its keenness to work with the UN agencies in the humanitarian field has the full right to evaluate the performance of UN officials and their level of cooperation.
The Humanitarian Aid Commission in Sudan (HAC) has presented in its recent statement a brief assessment for the work period of the  UN official that witnessed tension in the relations and lack cooperation.

The official concerned was requested to be issued a provisional stay permit in his capacity as ACTING head of OCHA Mission in Sudan. Though the said status remained as is up to date, the Sudanese authorities  fully cooperated with him and secured renewals of his  tentative stay permit. However, ahead of the upcoming renewal , OCHA was advised of the situation. That step should in no way construed as rejection of the presence of this UN organ in Sudan or the appointment of a new resident head of it.

Sudan: UN expert calls for a positive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue (29.04.2016)

Sudan Newspapers

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 29, 2016The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, urged the Sudanese Government “to enable a conducive environment for a free and inclusive national dialogue by respecting the basic fundamental rights of Sudanese people, including the rights to freedoms of expression and association, and of the press.”

“I remain concerned about a number of human rights issues in the country,” Mr. Nononsi said at the end of his second mission to the Sudan. “I continue to hear about cases of arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and travel ban on human rights defenders and political activists by security forces, including the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).”

The Independent Expert raised concern with the relevant authorities about the arrest and detention without charges of four pastors in Khartoum since mid-December 2016 as well as those of five students from the University of Khartoum since 13 April 2016.

“I was informed that the first case was transferred to judicial authorities who have charged the four pastors with criminal offenses. I was also informed that the case of the students will be shortly handed over to the relevant judicial authorities for prosecutions,” he noted. “I call on Sudanese authorities to ensure that the right to a fair trial and due process is guaranteed to these individuals.”

Mr. Nononsi also drew attention to the ongoing censorship of newspapers, and increased restrictions on journalists from freely expressing their opinion. “I raised the suspension since mid-December 2015 of the Al-Tayar newspaper with the authorities, and I strongly recommended that the appeal of Al-Tayar newspaper against NISS’ decision to suspend its operations is guaranteed an independent judicial review along with provision of adequate compensation,” he added.

The Independent Expert recalled that, in recent weeks, the authorities prevented four Sudanese human rights defenders from attending the pre-briefing session of the Universal Periodic Review* in Geneva

“I would like to emphasize the important role played by human rights defenders and journalists, and stress the need for the Government of Sudan to allow them to carry out their activities in an open, safe and secure environment,” the human rights expert said.

(*) NOTE TO EDITORS: The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur.

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