Detention of Activists May Link to Efforts in Defense of Human Rights in Sudan

Mohammed Othman, appointed as an independent expert by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR), called on the Sudanese Government to release before a court of law 11 human rights and journalists who are being detained.

The 11 were arrested by Sudan’s National Security Service between October 30 and November 3, 2010, and have been reportedly held incommunicado since then.

In a news release, Othman said that the Sudanese Government has not specified the charges brought against the 11 detainees. The 11 being detainees have never been granted access to a legal counsel nor have they appeared before a judge to review the lawfulness of their detentions.

“I am concerned that the arrests and detentions of these 11 persons may be linked to their legitimate activities in defense of human rights,” said Othman. “Sudan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Covenant’s guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention are an integral part of the Bill of Rights of the Interim National Constitution of the Sudan.”

Othman undertook his first fact-finding mission to the country in January and stressed the increasingly difficult situation for human rights defenders across the country, particularly during this crucial period in which Sudan prepares for its historic referendum on self determination for the people of Southern Sudan.

The vote is scheduled to take place on 9 January 2011 and is among the provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended two decades of war between the north and the south.