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UN expert urges Sudan to release civil society activists

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February 22, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - UN independent expert on human rights Aristide Nononsi Wednesday has called on the Sudanese government to release civil society activists put under arbitrary arrest without charge or trial.

Nononsi made his call in a press conference held at the end of his third mission to Sudan from 10 to 22 February where he discussed with the Sudanese officials and rights activists the efforts of the government to improve human rights situation in line with the international obligations and standards.

The expert said that in his meeting with the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) legal official he raised the cases of Mudawi Ibrahim, Tasneem Taha and Hafiz Idriss and called to respect "the rights and fundamental freedoms as provided in the Sudanese constitution".

"I urge the Government to release without delay all civil society actors who have been arbitrarily detained," he emphasised.

He further added that NISS pledged to allow him after the press conference to visit some detained activists "whose cases have been recently transferred to the Office of the Public Prosecutor".

During the recent weeks, the family of the right defender, Ibrahim, reported that he had gone again on hunger strike to protest his detention without charges and trial since the 7th December 2016.

The pro-ruling National Congress Party website Sudan Safari, two days ago, for the first time disclosed that he was involved in the elaboration of a report on the use of chemical weapons in Darfur released by Amnesty International last year. However, no formal charges were made public until now.

The independent expert told reporters he was informed that the Sudanese parliament will amend the National Security Act and the Criminal Act to bring them in line with international human rights standards.

The Sudanese lawmakers are expected to vote a number of constitutional reforms in line with the resolutions of the government-led national dialogue conference held last October in Khartoum.

However, the government and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) still diverge on the magnitude of NISS powers.

The PCP says the conference agreed to reduce the attributions of the security apparatus to the collection of information and intelligence, and to not detain people without an arrest warrant issued by a court for a very limited time.

However, Sudanese President Tuesday Omer slammed the position of the Islamist opposition PCP saying it cannot impose its point of view. "If it should be the case why we proposed the dialogue process?" he wondered.

On his visit to Darfur region; Nononsi described the security situation as "calm, but unpredictable".

He pointed to the continuation of banditry attacks, armed robbery, assault, killing, rape, abduction of locals and IDPs, inter-communal clashes over farmland and Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

He said that these "major concerns" "impact (negatively) on the peace, safety, security and co-existence of local communities".

He further stressed that "the underlying causes of (inter-communal) conflicts related to access to land, water and other resources, have not been addressed and the situation has been exacerbated by the overall impunity, a weak rule of law and justice institutions".

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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