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Sudan’s legislature endorses constitutional amendments on freedoms

April 24, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s National Legislature on Monday passed by majority draft constitutional amendments on freedoms on the Third Reading stage but the final approval was delayed due to lack of quorum.

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The Sudanese Parliament building

In February, Sudanese presidency deposited new amendments to the 2005 transitional constitution with the parliament providing to restrict the powers of the security services and to guarantee political freedoms.

The new amendments propose that the role of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) be reduced to the collection of information and to not be able to detain someone without an arrest warrant issued by a judge. Also, it ends press confiscation and censorship.

However, the National Assembly last week passed, in the First Reading stage, the report of the parliamentary emergency committee for constitutional amendments retaining powers of the NISS.

According to the National Assembly’s regulations, any draft bill must be passed by the National Legislature including the upper and lower chambers (National Assembly and the Council of States) in the Third Reading stage while the final approval must be voted separately by the two chambers.

On Monday, the National Legislature decided to delay the final approval of the constitutional amendments on the “Freedoms” document to Tuesday’s session due to lack of quorum.

It is noteworthy that the emergency committee retained NISS’s powers considering the agency “a national regular force” that works to combat terrorism, money laundering and organised crime through bilateral, regional and international cooperation.

The committee justified its decision to retain NISS’s powers by saying “the exceptional circumstances of the country which required granting broad powers to the security apparatus in the January 2015 amendments still exist and continue to threaten national security”.

(ST)