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U.S. renews concern over arbitrary detention of Sudanese protesters

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U.S. Charge d'Affaires Steven Koutsis paid a visit to Youssef Siddiq after his release on 31 March - (US Embassy photo)
March 31, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The United States on Sunday has renewed its concern over the continued use of extra-judicial detentions in response to the largely peaceful protests in Sudan.

On Sunday, U.S. Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis visited 88-year-old opposition leader and human rights activist, Siddiq Youssef, in his family home in Omdurman on the occasion of his release

In a press release on Sunday, U.S. embassy in Khartoum said Youssef was held in detention for 88 days without charges.

“No one should be subjected to this harsh treatment for merely holding and expressing views that differ from those of the government” read the statement

The embassy expressed concern over the detention of the Sudanese activists, saying “incarcerating opposition party leaders, civil society activists, and journalists contradict the Government of Sudan’s call for an open and inclusive dialogue on Sudan’s future”.

“The en masse and arbitrary detentions of peaceful protestors is a counterproductive response to legitimate grievances and the exercise of Sudanese’ constitutional rights to free expression that further undermine human rights in Sudan” further read the statement

The embassy urged the Sudanese government “to end the practice of broad detentions”, saying “any person who is detained deserves a quick judicial determination on whether criminal charges will be filed”.

“All detainees should be afforded immediate visits by family and legal counsel. We again call on the Government of Sudan to establish a productive, non-violent response to the protests and to pursue a constructive dialogue on political transition” said the embassy

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan since December 19, with demonstrators holding nationwide rallies calling on President Omer al-Bashir to resign.

The government said 31 people have died in the violence, while other credible reports including from Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed. Also, dozens of demonstrators have been injured and hundreds arrested during the protests.

Last November, Khartoum and Washington signed a framework agreement for Sudan removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism; accordingly, Khartoum has to ensure freedoms and fundamental democratic reforms.

Last February, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that calls by Sudanese people for regime change will be heard.

Also, during his visit to Khartoum last month, the Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC) and Special Assistant to the U.S. President Cyril Sartor called for the need to ensure freedoms in Sudan.

He pointed out that he understands that “Sudan is going through a complex transition”, calling on the government to “respect the right of people to express themselves peacefully”.

However, the U.S. official stressed that “there are no external solutions to be imposed on Sudan”.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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