Thursday, February 23, 2017

Czech FM Visits Sudan Seeking Release of Jailed Filmmaker
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lubomír Zaorálek (Photo Czech FM)

February 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek will visit Khartoum next Sunday for talks on bilateral relations. Also, he is expected to seek a presidential pardon for a journalist sentenced to life in prison last January.

According to a press statement released Thursday Zaoralek will hold talks with the Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour. Also, he is will "meet senior officials and visits some investment sites".

Further, a Sudanese official who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Sudan Tribune that the visiting minister will request an amnesty for the Christian filmmaker Jasek who is accused of espionage.

On 29 January, a Sudanese court sentenced Jacek to life imprisonment for spying against the Sudan and disseminating reports - via an "American organisation hostile to Sudan" - including alleged persecution of Christians in the country, and the bombardment of civilian populated areas in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State.

The Czech foreign ministry swiftly rejected the ruling of the Sudanese court, pointing that there was no evidence to support his conviction or sentence, according to the Associated Press.

At the time, the Czech foreign ministry said a deputy foreign minister would travel to Sudan in the coming days to try to negotiate Jasek’s release and if necessary, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek is ready to go there, too.

Earlier this month, the Sudanese authorities released a British filmmaker, after a presidential pardon granted by President Omer al-Bashir. Philip Cox who is the first journalist to report the Darfur crisis to the world had been captured in Darfur region as he entered the country illegally.


UN expert urges Sudan to release civil society activists

February 22, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - UN independent expert on human rights Aristide Nononsi Wednesday has called on the Sudanese government to release civil society activists put under arbitrary arrest without charge or trial.

Nononsi made his call in a press conference held at the end of his third mission to Sudan from 10 to 22 February where he discussed with the Sudanese officials and rights activists the efforts of the government to improve human rights situation in line with the international obligations and standards.

The expert said that in his meeting with the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) legal official he raised the cases of Mudawi Ibrahim, Tasneem Taha and Hafiz Idriss and called to respect "the rights and fundamental freedoms as provided in the Sudanese constitution".

"I urge the Government to release without delay all civil society actors who have been arbitrarily detained," he emphasised.

He further added that NISS pledged to allow him after the press conference to visit some detained activists "whose cases have been recently transferred to the Office of the Public Prosecutor".

During the recent weeks, the family of the right defender, Ibrahim, reported that he had gone again on hunger strike to protest his detention without charges and trial since the 7th December 2016.

The pro-ruling National Congress Party website Sudan Safari, two days ago, for the first time disclosed that he was involved in the elaboration of a report on the use of chemical weapons in Darfur released by Amnesty International last year. However, no formal charges were made public until now.

The independent expert told reporters he was informed that the Sudanese parliament will amend the National Security Act and the Criminal Act to bring them in line with international human rights standards.

The Sudanese lawmakers are expected to vote a number of constitutional reforms in line with the resolutions of the government-led national dialogue conference held last October in Khartoum.

However, the government and the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) still diverge on the magnitude of NISS powers.

The PCP says the conference agreed to reduce the attributions of the security apparatus to the collection of information and intelligence, and to not detain people without an arrest warrant issued by a court for a very limited time.

However, Sudanese President Tuesday Omer slammed the position of the Islamist opposition PCP saying it cannot impose its point of view. "If it should be the case why we proposed the dialogue process?" he wondered.

On his visit to Darfur region; Nononsi described the security situation as "calm, but unpredictable".

He pointed to the continuation of banditry attacks, armed robbery, assault, killing, rape, abduction of locals and IDPs, inter-communal clashes over farmland and Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

He said that these "major concerns" "impact (negatively) on the peace, safety, security and co-existence of local communities".

He further stressed that "the underlying causes of (inter-communal) conflicts related to access to land, water and other resources, have not been addressed and the situation has been exacerbated by the overall impunity, a weak rule of law and justice institutions".


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