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Lawyers denounce police brutality against Sudanese youth artists

Minister Elboushi (2d L) meets imprisoned artists including Duaa and Hajooj besides her at Omdurman prison on 19 September 2020 (ST photo)
September 22, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese lawyers denounced police brutality and unlawful use of force against youth artists and called to reform the police and justice systems in the country.

Last week, a Khartoum court sentenced five artists to two months in prison, and a fine of 5,000 Sudanese pounds on the grounds of public nuisance and disturbance of public peace.

The artists had been arrested last August for causing noise to the neighbours as they were rehearsing a play.

But very quickly, the police took part against them and turned blend eyes on the assaults against them. Also, a policeman slapped a female artist when she protested photographing her from his cell phone when they were at the police station.

In a press conference held in Khartoum on Tuesday, Osman Mubarak a lawyer member of the defence team said the police purposefully deviated the procedures and violated others in the case against the artists.

"The members of the art collective Civic Lab "were subjected to procedural violations committed against them by the police, including the slapping of Duaa Tariq, threatening others with torture and refusing to record a complaint, in addition to violations that accompanied the filing of complaints against them and procedures for their release on bail," said Mubarak

Regarding the court sentence on the artists, he said that his clients were subjected to a judicial violation stressing that the punishment is inconsistent with the deed.

The artists chanted the Sudanese revolution slogan “Freedom, Peace and Justice” inside the police detention facility centre to protest against ill-treatment.

Walaa Salah, a member of the defence committee and a human rights activist, criticized trying the artists just for chanting the slogan of the revolution inside a police station to protest mistreatment and denial of their rights.

"These violations require immediate accountability for all police officers involved in the case," said Salah before to call on the ministries of interior and justice, the Attorney General and Chief Justice to undertake the needed reforms to prevent the repetition of such violations inside police facilities.

"The case underscores how police, prosecutors, and judges are still operating as they did under former president Omer al-Bashir, using vague provisions that give wide discretionary powers for authorities to restrict basic rights and freedoms," wrote Mohamed Osman a Human Rights Watch Assistant Researcher in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The case also highlights the abusive tactics used by police and security officials," Osman added.

Another lawyer Osman Al-Hussein stated that the defence team is about to appeal the verdict against the five artists.

Sudanese activists say the case should encourage Hamdok government to accelerate reforms to prevent authorities from committing such abuses.

In a statement issued on 19 September from Omdurman Prison, the five imprisoned artists stressed they will follow the legal procedures and appeal the sentences "in a manner that achieves justice for them and contribute to the process of legal and institutional reforms".

They also expressed their determination to take legal action towards those who committed violations against them, alluding to the police officers

(ST)