Release of Messrs. Mahjoub Ourwa and Noureddine Madani - SDN 002 / 1107 / OBS 147.1

30/11/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) of the release of Messrs. Mahjoub Ourwa and Noureddine Madani, two independent journalists, after being detained for eleven days for denouncing the abusive arrests of four other journalists.

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Sudan.

New information:

According to the information received, on November 30, 2007, the Khartoum Court of Appeal reduced the sentence against Mr. Mahjoub Ourwa, Chairman of the independent newspaper Al-Sudani (published in Arabic), and Mr. Noureddine Madani, the editor of this newspaper, to 3,500 Sudanese pounds (around 1,000 Euros) in total or two months’ imprisonment. The two journalists agreed to pay the fine.

On November 17, 2007, a Khartoum court had sentenced Mr. Mahjoub Ourwa and Mr. Noureddine Madani to a fine of 10,000 Sudanese pounds (3,500 Euros) each or two months in prison.

The Observatory welcomes the release of Messrs. Ourwa and Madani and wishes to thank all the persons, organisations, and institutions that intervened in their favour.

Nevertheless, the Observatory expresses its deep concern regarding these judicial proceedings that seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

Background information:

These judicial proceedings were undertaken in the framework of a libel suit brought by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), which considered that the report published on July 20, 2007 by Messrs. Ourwa and Madani, in which they denounced the abusive arrests by the NIS of four journalists that took place in the framework of the June 13 protests against the construction of a dam in the northern Kajbar region1, was defamatory.

On November 17, 2007, Messrs. Ourwa and Madani had refused to pay the fine and had filed an appeal to challenge the court order. They had nonetheless been taken to Khartoum’s Obdurman prison. On November 18, 2007, their lawyers had requested the suspension of the sentence until the outcome of the appeal but no reply had been brought to this request.

Messrs. Ourwa and Madani therefore remained in detention during eleven days, until the appeal was brought to court.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Sudan, urging them to:

i.Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mahjoub Ourwa and Noureddine Madani;

ii.Put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Sudanese human rights defenders ;

iii.Comply 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”, Article 6.b (“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”) and Article 12.2, which provides 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.Comply with Article 39 of the Sudanese Interim National Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and of the media;

v.More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Sudan.

Addresses

- His Excellency Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, Presidential Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 783 223 / +249 183 782 541
- His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice-President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 11 779977 / 771025
- His Excellency Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Vice-President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 77 10 25
- Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Khartoum, Sudan; Fax: + 249 183 78 07 96
- Mr. Deng Alor, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs/External Relations, PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 77 93 83
- Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Interior, PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 77 93 83
- Dr Yasir Sid Ahmed, Head of the Advisory Council for Human Rights PO Box 302, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 770 883
- Dr Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha, Advisory Council for Human Rights, Rapporteur, PO Box 302, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 77 08 83
- Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: +41 22 731 26 63, Fax: +41 22 731 26 56, Email: mission.sudan@bluewin.ch / mission.sudan@ties.itu.int
- The Embassy of Sudan in Brussels, 124 avenue F:D: Roosevelt; 1050 Brussels. 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 missions or embassies of Sudan in your respective country.

***
Geneva - Paris, November 30, 2007

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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New information
SDN 002 / 1107 / OBS 147.1
Release / Hindrance to freedom of expression
Sudan

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