Obstacles to the freedom of assembly - SDN 004 / 1209 / OBS 194

Press release

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the termination of a symposium organised in Kosti on voter education and the arrest by National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers and subsequent release of one of the organisers, Mr. Hatem Salah, member of the secretariat of the Sudanese Youth Union, a political movement.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Sudan.

According to the information received, on December 16, 2009, in city of Kosti, White Nile State, Mr. Hatem Salah was arrested 15 minutes before the beginning of a symposium organised by the Sudanese Monitor for Human Rights (SMHR) in coordination with the Sudanese Youth Union in Kosti in the Club of Kosti. This symposium, entitled "elections and democratic transition", was constituted by a training program on voter education, and several human rights defenders were due to participate in the training, including Messrs. Adel Bakhit, Elshafee Eldao, who is also a media expert, and Amro Kamal Khalil, SMHR Secretary. At 8.45 pm, NISS officers and the police broke up the symposium and dispersed the crowd in front of the club. The troops blocked the area and deployed forces across the city. Mr. Hatem Salah was subsequently released following interrogation. Bags, publications and logos used for the symposium were confiscated.

Mr. Hatem Salah was targeted for no other reason than stopping his human rights activities. The Observatory deeply condemns the arbitrary arrest of M. Hatem Salah, which contradicts Article 39(1) of the Sudan Interim National Constitution, which provides that every "citizen shall have an unrestricted right to the freedom of expression, reception and dissemination of information". The Observatory is also concerned about the situation of freedoms of assembly, expression and association in Sudan.

The Observatory further urges the European Commission Delegation as well as the European Union (EU) Member States embassies in Sudan, to call upon the Sudan authorities to comply with the relevant international standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and take action, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Actions required:

Please write to the Sudan authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Sudan;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Sudan and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their human rights activities freely without any hindrances;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and its Article 12.2, which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Sudan.

Addresses :

· Mr. President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, Office of the President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 783223

· Mr. Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 771025

· Mr. Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Vice-President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan; Fax: + 249 183 771025

· Mr. Abdel Bassit Sabdarat, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, PO Box 302, Khartoum, Sudan; Fax: 249 183 764 168 / +249 183 770 883; Email: moj@moj.gov.sd

· Mr. Deng Alor, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs/External Relations, PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: 249183772941

· Mr. Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed, Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Interior, PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 779383 / +249 183 776 554; Email: ministry@mfa.gov.sd

· Dr Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha, Advisory Council for Human Rights, Rapporteur, PO Box 302, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 77 08 83

· Dr Priscilla Joseph, Chair of the Human Rights Committee, National Assembly, Omdurman, Sudan, Fax: +249 187 560 950

· Ambassador Mr. John Ukec Lueth Ukec, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 51-53 (3rd Floor), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: +41 22 731 26 63, Fax: +41 22 731 26 56 / +41 22 716 19 70, Email: mission.sudan@bluewin.ch

· The Embassy of Sudan in Brussels, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 124, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Tel.:0032 (2) 647 51 59 / 0032 (2) 647 94 94, Fax: 0032 (2) 648 34 99, Email: sudanbx@yahoo.com

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Sudan in your respective countries.

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