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Sudan parliament cool on law on subjecting civilians to military trials

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July 1, 2013, (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese parliament has declined to pass a bill containing amendments to the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) law calling it it an overt violation of human rights which imposes further restrictions on civil liberties.

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Sudanese defence minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein (REUTERS)

This week the Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein said that the amendments were introduced after reviewing similar laws in other nations including the United States and Britain as well as most Arab states.

Hussein said these amendments will help bolster security and the SAF grip over the country.

The head of the parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, security and defense Mohamed Al-Hassan al-Amin, said that his committee refused to pass three provisions regarding military crimes because they already exist in the criminal law.

These provisions allow military courts to prosecute civilians on several crimes including deserting military service, harboring a fugitive, disclosing military information, using military uniforms, undermining the constitutional order, inciting war against the state, dealing with an enemy state, spying on the state and allowing escape of prisoners of war among others.

Al-Amin further said that the new law represents a clear violation of human rights as well as international agreements and conventions signed by Sudan.

He expressed concern about passing the law in its current form and warned that it will impose more restrictions on civilians stressing that the law should be confined to the military personnel only.

The defense minister, for his part, defended the bill and said that the security situation and the conspiracies being hatched against the country along with the increasing numbers of armed groups necessitated these amendments.

He said that military crimes must be kept in the law in order to secure the country and pointed that he had the approval of the justice minister in this regard.

In a move to reconcile the conflicting views of the defense minister and al-Amin, the parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir returned the bill to the committee for further consideration.

In a separate issue, the parliament passed a new law for the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) despite few objections regarding provisions which stipulated remuneration for joining th eparamilitary group.

MP Al-Sayed Mahgoub, pointed that giving salaries to volunteers would undermine the idea of the PDF which is based upon rewards in the hereafter such as heaven and virgins, saying that passing such a bill would mean issuing a “death certificate” for the PDF.

The parliament deputy-speaker Hago Gasm al-Seed, considered that PDF’s new financial structure would increase the burden on the budget, proposing that those who seek remuneration should join the army, police, or security forces instead of the PDF.

The parliament speaker acknowledged the idea about distributing spoils of war such as tanks and vehicles among soldiers.

The head of the sub-committee on defense, foreign affair and security, defended the PDF law and stressed its impartiality, saying “it is open for all Sudanese people”.

(ST)

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