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Sudanese minister briefs U.S. official on religious freedom situation

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May 23, 2107 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Ministry of Justice Tuesday has briefed the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Ian Turner, of ongoing efforts to amend some articles of the Penal Code to comply with the constitution and the international conventions.

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Sudan’s foreign ministry building in Khartoum (SUNA)

On Tuesday, Turner met with Sudan’s State Minister of Justice Tahani Tour al-Daba as part of his visit to Sudan to assess the situation of religious freedoms in the country to include it in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.

The official news agency SUNA quoted the Sudanese minister as saying the rights of religious minorities are preserved according to the law and the constitution, stressing that all people practice their beliefs freely.

She pointed to continued efforts to reform the national laws to comply with the constitution and the international conventions including the including the article on dress code and article (8) on religious and worship rights in the Penal Code.

Commenting on the recent demolition of churches in Khartoum, Tour al-Daba said the move comes within the framework of the urban planning; pointing the authorities also demolished some mosques which indicate the move has nothing to do with religious affiliations.

Khartoum State authorities on 7 May demolished a church in Soba Al-Aradi suburb, 19 km from Khartoum, despite pledges by Sudanese government officials to stop Churches’ demolition.

Sudanese authorities earlier this year delayed a plan to demolish some 27 churches including Soba Al Aradi church, pointing they are not officially recognised as churches.

However, church leaders say the authorities refuse to give them building permits when they submit an application for the construction of a church. They stress this situation force them to resort to these houses of prayer in the far suburbs of Khartoum.

The minister underscored the government maintains rights of Christians through the Department of Church Affairs in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, which oversees all Christian charitable and religious activities in Sudan.

She stressed that government positions are not linked to any religious conditions, pointing that large numbers of Christians are holding government and legislative posts.

According to SUNA, the American official said his visit comes within the framework of promoting bilateral relations between the two countries according to the five-track dialogue.

He stressed that the U.S. States Department doesn’t dictate what Sudan should say or do, adding the two countries are engaged in consultations to avoid any future shortcomings in relations.

Last January, former President Barack Obama eased the 19-year economic and trade sanctions on Sudan. The decision came as a response to the collaboration of the Sudanese government on various issues including the fight against terrorism.

Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. Several agencies, including the State Department, have to present to President Donald Trump next June their findings and recommendations over the fate of the sanctions.

(ST)

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