Press release, 06/10/2005
Amnesty International has learnt today that the Sudanese Government has
launched legal proceedings against one of the country's leading human rights
groups Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) in apparent attempt to
silence the organisation.
According to local press reports, Sudan's Bureau of Crimes Against the State
began proceedings against SOAT for spreading false information at the end of
August but did not inform the organisation. If found guilty, members of the
organisation could face more than 5 years in prison.
"The Government seems intent upon silencing an organization which has done
so much to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Sudan," said
Kolawole Olaniyan, Director of Amnesty International's Africa programme.
This latest development must be seen in the wider context of continued
harassment of and attacks on human rights activists in Sudan as well as
severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly."
SOAT, which has offices in Sudan and the UK as well members worldwide, is
being charged under articles 59 (Disclosure of Military Information), 66
(Propagation of False news), 69 (Breach of Public Peace), 77 (Public
Nuisance) of the 1991 Sudanese Penal Code.
The charges came after the publication of a press release by the
organisation on the arrests that took place during riots on 1-3 August. The
riots occurred in Khartoum and other major southern cities such as Juba and
Malakal following the death of First Vice President Dr John Garang de Mabior
in a helicopter crash.
Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) is an independent non-governmental
human rights organisation. established in 1993 working in Sudan and UK and
has members worldwide. SOAT primary objective is preventing torture and
SOAT works to rehabilitate Sudanese survivors of torture; provides legal assistance to survivors and individuals threatened with inhumane and degrading punishments; human rights education; researches, documents and campaigns against human rights abuses in Sudan on a national and international level.