September 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The trial of Amira Osman who was arrested on August 27 while conducting business in Jabal Awliya area, in the suburbs of the capital Khartoum will resume today, her lawyers said.
- Sudanese Amira Osman Hamed speaks with an AFP journalist during an interview in Khartoum on September 8, 2013 (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Osman was arrested for not covering her head and charged with wearing "indecent" clothing under Article 152 of the Public Order Law (POL).
The first session of her trial was on September 1. It was attended by almost 100 regular citizens, civil society members and women rights activists. The trial was postponed when the judge did not show up due to sickness.
Her defense team which is headed by Kamal Algizouli, issued a statement saying that trial will resume today.
Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that the French Ambassador to Khartoum showed great interest on the trial and met with the defense team to discuss the details of the case.
In 2009, France granted residency to the Sudanese journalist, Lubna Hussein, who was charged with public indecency after she was arrested along with 12 other women who were wearing trousers at a Khartoum restaurant.
The Sudanese government at the time suffered a major PR blow after Hussein’s case swept the world media.
Hussein resigned from her post at the then United Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to waive her immunity bestowed upon employees of the world body and face trial to use her case to draw attention to the Public Order Law (POL) which allows flogging as a punishment for any acts or wearing clothing that are viewed as offending morals.
Following international pressure, the Sudanese judge did not impose a flogging sentence and instead ordered Hussein to pay a fine of 500 pounds ($200) or else be jailed for 30 days after being convicted of indecent dressing.
She refused to pay the fine but was released well before her one month jail sentence expired after the head of the pro-government Journalist Syndicate went ahead and paid it.
Liberal activists and women’s rights groups denounced the trial and accused the police of deliberately harassing and abusing girls who hold opposing political views, calling for writing off the indictment and offering an apology to the accused.
Authorities claim that the POP is enforcing the POL which will prevent the negative behaviors in the society even though the law was denounced by politicians and activists who say that it violates citizen’s fundamental rights.
Journalist and columnist, Faisal Mohamed Saleh, who is a recent winner of the Peter Mackler award for courageous and ethical Journalism has described the POL as “the worst law on earth”.
“The regime is insisting on enforcing the POL in order to harass ordinary people unduly”, said Salih.