During the third week of January 2018, a team of human rights lawyers submitted an appeal on the ongoing detention of journalist and human rights defender, Amel Habbani, and others, to the constitutional court in Khartoum.
The appeal was submitted on behalf of Amel Habbani and others against the Government of Sudan, represented by the Minister of Justice, as the first defendant and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) as the second defendant and filed under article 16(1) of the 2005 Constitutional Court Law, which provides for a writ inquiring into the lawfulness of the group’s detention.
The appeal seeks to contest the detention of Habbani and others and argues that the arbitrary arrest and the conditions of arrest and detention oppose Sudanese laws and the national constitution and asks the court to look at the constitutionality of the detention circumstances.
It should be noted that the initial consultation meeting to draft this appeal focused on the case of Amel Habbani, however, further communications with families of another journalist and other human rights defenders saw them expressing interest to be part of the appeal. The committee of lawyers saw this as an advocacy opportunity. Moreover, two constitutional appeals were submitted by human rights lawyers on behalf of other groups of HRDs in Khartoum and outside Khartoum during the last two weeks.
On Monday, the 5th of February 2018, lawyers were informed by the court that this appeal has been accepted and will now be processed by the court. This is a victory for the legal team and the defenders represented in this appeal as such appeals are usually rejected by the constitutional court as it often refuses to confront the NISS.
Below we will summarize the body of the appeal which was submitted in the Arabic language:
-The circumstances of detention: the plaintiffs represented in this appeal were arrested in January 2018, kept in locations unknown to their families and even out of reach to judicial assessment which is a priority in all legal detention processes under Sudanese law. Moreover, the plaintiffs were prohibited from communication with their families to understand their circumstances and their personal needs. Finally, none of the plaintiffs have been charged and they have yet to appear in front of the court of law.
-The lawyers gave an overview of the Bill of Rights as worded in the national constitution of Sudan and argued that the arrest and detention by the defendants are in violation of the constitution as per Articles 29, 31, 40(1) and 48. It also violates Articles 2, 7 ,8 ,9 and 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 2, 5 , 9 ,17 and 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 2, 4 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Articles 2, 3 (A), 4, 8 and 28 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which the constitution acknowledges in its bill of rights as it vows to uphold all international documents, conventions and treaties that Sudan is a signatory to or is part of.
-The plaintiff have the right to take part in any general assembly and thus, as the defendants have violated their constitutional rights, they should be immediately released, be given the right to seek compensation and the defendants should remunerate the legal team (an amount equivalent to 100,000 SDG, or approximately $5,000) for their efforts.
To read the full text of the constitutional appeal in Arabic, click below: