African Commission: Sudan violated the African Charter in the Medani & Eissa Case

Amanuel Sileshi / AFP

The African Commission recently found that the 2014-15 arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention and denial of access to medical services of Sudanese activist Dr. Amin Mekki Medani and opposition leader Mr. Farouq Abu Eissa, was in violation of their rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. In a country in deep turmoil, FIDH believes it to be a very positive precedent in the fight against impunity.

Paris, Kampala, Nairobi, 14 September, 2023. In a decision rendered public in August 2023, the African Commission found that the arrest and detention of the two human rights leaders Farouq Abu Eissa and Amin Mekki Medani in 2015 was a means of reprisal, and served to silence views contrary to those of the government. The Commission described these facts as consistent with the trends observed over recent years in Sudan particularly with the pro-democracy movement since 2019. The long awaited decision of the African Commission was issued at its 73rd Ordinary Session and found that Sudan violated six provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights warranting reparations.

“This decision is a rare piece of good news because it affirms the rights of the people of Sudan, who have for decades been subjected to serious human rights violations by repressive regimes," said Alice Mogwe, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), before adding "This decision is important because it serves to underscore that these inhumane tactics used to silence views which difer from those of the government are not acceptable.”

Arbitrary arrests: a mean to silence civil society?

In February 2015, after repeated public calls for the release of the two human rights leaders from their incommunicado detention, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), REDRESS and OMCT filed a urgent communication at the African Commission on Human Rights, seeking immediate relief to address the situation. The African Commission issued provisional measures requesting Sudan to guarantee that the victims had regular and unhindered access to adequate medical attention including care provided through their families and to ensure that lawyers have regular and unhindered access to the victims.

In April 2015, after over four months of detention, and the commencement of trumped up charges on capital offences on “founding and running a terrorist organisation”, “undermining the constitutional system” and “waging war against the state”, Mr. Medani and Mr. Eissa were released and no further action was taken against them In recent years FIDH and ACJPS have received and responded to numerous reports of arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions by Sudanese government forces.

A good precedent in a country in turmoil

While this decision comes at a time when Sudan is in turmoil it sets a good precedent and guidance on what Sudan’s government ought to do in redressing harm suffered by the two human rights defenders, who sadly passed away before the decision.

“The reparations go beyond compensation to the families of the victims and require measures to be put in place to implement procedural safeguards for the prevention of torture and Ill-treatment, as well as strengthening of legislative provisions and administrative action procedures to be responsive towards protection of citizens from arbitrary misuse of power by security forces.” Said Mossad Mohamed, Executive Director at the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).

FIDH, ACJPS, Sudan Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) and REDRESS, with other partners continue to advocate for peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in Sudan, accountability and a return to civilian-led government in Sudan and will follow up to ensure enforcement of the decision in due course.

The decision can be accessed here.

For more information on the ACHPR and communication process, click here.

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