Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on independence of judges, lawyers, and other mandate holders

REDRESS and the Sudanese Human Rights Monitor submitted a request for action to various UN special rapporteurs and independent experts, particularly the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, to the Chairperson of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights) and the EU Special Representative for Sudan, raising concerns about the amendment to Sudan’s Armed Forces of Law, 2007, adopted by Sudan’s parliament on 2 July 2013. Its coming into force depends on the President’s assent but will be automatic within 30 days in case the President remains silent on the matter.  

The amendment envisages, inter alia, that civilians who commit crimes considered to be against the state’s security are subject to the jurisdiction of military courts. This category of crimes covers a number of broad and vaguely worded offences, such as “publication of false news”. These offences have over the last years been used to prosecute journalists, political opponents, human rights defenders and others for their peaceful activities, particularly for the exercise of their freedom of expression. Subjecting civilians to the jurisdiction of military courts raises serious concerns of further militarisation of civil life in Sudan that strips away the remaining vestiges of defendants’ rights and further weakens civil society.

Subjecting civilians to the jurisdiction of military courts, and particularly for the types of offences mentioned, violates international fair trial standards that are also guaranteed under Sudan’s Interim National Constitution. In addition, the proposed measure risks adversely impacting on, if not violating a series of rights, particularly freedom of expression, the right to liberty and security, the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life in cases where defendants face the death penalty.

REDRESS and the Sudanese Human Rights Monitor called on the mandate holders mentioned above to urgently raise the matter with the Government of Sudan with a view to ensuring that any reform undertaken does not include any provisions subjecting civilians to the jurisdiction of military courts.

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