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Amnesty International: Sudanese Government Accuses Human Rights Defenders of being Spies to Silence Them
Khartoum, 22 March 2017
Amnesty International said the Sudanese government portrays human rights defenders as “spies” or agents of foreign governments, with the aim of silencing them.
“When arrested, they are usually charged with the offences of ‘undermining the constitutional system,’ ‘waging war against the state’ or ‘espionage,’ all of which carry the death penalty or life in prison”. Amnesty explained that the motive behind such hostility is to silence those who speak out against human rights abuses and that by doing so the Government of Sudan (GoS) is criminalizing human rights work.
The organization pointed to the release of three Sudanese human rights defenders, Khalafallah Al-Afif Mukhtar, director of the TRACKs center, Medhat Afifeldin Hamdan, trainer at the center and Mustafa Adam director of Alzarqa Organization, from prison on March 6, 2017 after each one of them paid a fine of 50,000 Sudanese pounds (about US $7,700).
The three were each sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay fines. They were released after spending nine months in prison and paying hefty fines. But what are the charges they were convicted of? Khalafallah and Medhat were convicted of publishing false information, whereas Mustafa was convicted of espionage.
The TRACKs center provides training on various topics including human rights and information technology for civil society organizations in Sudan, whereas Alzarqa Organization works on rural communities’ development and human rights training.
Amnesty International also cited the arbitrary detention of Mudawi Ibrahim for over three months as part of this pattern. Mudawi’s accountant Noora Osman and his driver Adam Elshiek were also detained along with Hafiz El Doma, an internally displaced person from Darfur. The organization said that Hafiz El Doma was tortured through electrocution and beatings as he was also forced to record confessions. It noted that none of these human rights defenders were made aware of the reasons behind their detention and remained in custody without charge. Additionally, the GoS prevented human rights defenders from attending international events and fora.
The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detained Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim (59 years old), a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Khartoum and winner of an award in 2005 from “Frontline Defenders”– the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders.
“We need independent human rights defenders to expose violations such as arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of detainees by the NISS,” Amnesty declared. “They ensure human rights violations are not kept secret and victims do not suffer in silence.”
Amnesty International affirmed that “Sudan has obligations under international law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights.” The GoS is obliged to stop human rights violations and that it should view the role of human rights defenders as one complementary to its own, rather than criminalizing their activities.
It called for the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees currently in detention for their work in the field of human rights and to drop all charges against them