November 14, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Two Sudanese political activists charged last month with indecent behaviour after they were found travelling in the same car together remain at risk of flogging, Amnesty International (AI) said in a statement this week.
Najlaa Mohammed Ali and Amin Senada faced court on Wednesday following their arrest on 21 October in Port Sudan.
According to AI, Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist, had arranged to meet with Senada, also an activist, to discuss the planning of a workshop.
They were approached by police and security forces following the meeting after the driver of the amjad (private taxi) they were travelling in pulled over to answer a phone call.
The officers accused Senada of placing his hand on Ali’s shoulder, ordering the pair to accompany them to the Police Public Order Department. The arresting officers later claimed they had found them kissing in the car, charging both with ‘indecent behaviour’ under Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Code.
Both could face up to 40 lashes if convicted.
AI has called on the Sudanese government to drop the charges against the pair, also urging it to repeal Article 152.
Sudan’s public order law (POL) governing morality has come under increased scrutiny recently following a high profile case against female activist Amira Osman Hamed, who is facing a flogging sentence after being charged with dressing indecently for not covering her hair with a headscarf.
Hamed has remained defiant and is refusing to cover her hair.
Last week, UN independent experts urged Sudan to end flogging punishments for women accused of so called moral crimes, stressing that the practice amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that goes against international law.
In a joint statement, special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Rashida Manjoo and Frances Raday, the chairperson of the working group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, said women disproportionally face the punishment as a result of rampant gender discrimination.
Under the POL, premarital sex, adultery, failure to prove rape, dressing ‘indecently’ or other behaviour deemed immoral, are all grounds for flogging in Sudan.