Home | Press Releases    Sunday 26 December 2010

Former chairperson of SUDO imprisoned following unfair trial

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The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies

Former Chairperson of SUDO Imprisoned Following Unfair Trial; Darfuri Human Rights Defenders Remain Detained Without Charges

Contact: Osman Hummaida, Executive Director
- Phone: +44 7956 095 738
- E-mail: osman@acjps.org

(25 December 2010) — On 22 December, Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam, the former Director of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO) and a prominent human rights defender was sentenced to one year in prison on embezzlement charges. He had previously been acquitted of the charges in March 2009, immediately following SUDO’s closure by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). The HAC appealed the judge’s acquittal of Dr. Adam, but did not present any new evidence of wrongdoing. Dr. Adam was called to appear in court in Khartoum in connection with the charges on the morning of 22 December, where he was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 3,000 SDG (roughly $1,250) by the same judge. He was not given a new trial. He was immediately taken to Kober prison, and transferred the following day to Soba prison.

This incident is a troubling reminder of the increase in targeting of human rights defenders and activists in recent months, and is a worrying signal that there may be further crackdown in the North following the referendum. On 14 December, Abdul Basit Margani, 60, was arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in relation to hosting a meeting in his capacity as director of the Al Finar Psychosocial Support Centre on the eve of the demonstrations coordinated by the No to Women’s Oppression Coalition in Khartoum. Prior to being released early last week, he was held incommunicado. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies also remains extremely concerned about the 13 Darfuri human rights defenders, including Abdelrahman Mohamed Al Gasim of the Darfur Bar Association, and staff members of HAND and Radio Dabanga detained in a wave of arrests in Khartoum between 30 October and 3 November. No charges have been presented, and, though some detainees have had access to their families, it is unclear where they are being held. As the International Convention of the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances enters into force, we urge the Government of Sudan to ratify the Convention and enforce legal guarantees to prevent against disappearances and ensure appropriate access and information for families and legal representatives.

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies sees Dr. Adam’s trial, as a breach of international standards on the right to a fair trial, particularly as there does not appear to be sufficient evidence against him. That he was denied a new trial and sentenced by the same judge that had previously acquitted him of the charges without any admission of new evidence represents an undue interference and violation of the principle of double jeopardy. The right to a fair trial is articulated in Article 34 of the Interim National Constitution of Sudan, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The African Centre calls on the government of Sudan and the Ministry of Justice to review the case against Dr. Adam, and present additional evidence of misconduct and order an appeal with all due process guarantees under international law, or release him. He should be allowed access to the legal counsel of his choice and independent observers given access to monitor his trial.

Further, the government of Sudan should take urgent measures to guarantee that fundamental civil and political rights necessary to a democratic society, such as the freedom of expression, assembly, and association, are respected in the critical remaining two weeks leading up to the referendum, and in the post-referendum period which will require constitutional renegotiation. If citizens are not guaranteed the right to participate in political affairs, the gains of the interim period and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in addressing the exclusion of citizens from the political process will be lost.

Background

SUDO was closed by the HAC in the wake of the International Criminal Court’s issuance of an arrest warrant against President Omar al Bashir in March 2009, alongside two other national and 13 international humanitarian and human rights organisations. SUDO appealed the HAC’s decision, and a court ruled in April 2010 that the decision had had no legal basis. The HAC was order to reimburse all damages since March 2009. However, SUDO has not been operational since the decision was overturned, and many of their staff have left Sudan. Dr. Adam was detained three times between 2003 and 2005, and periodically kept in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer or his family. He has won awards from Human Rights First and Frontline Defenders, and is an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience in connection with this case.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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