Re: Gazi Suliman, Lawyer
To: Omar Hassan al-Bashir, President Of The Republic Of Sudan
From: Monique Pongracic-Speier Of LRWC
LRWC is distressed by information received from the Sudan Organization Against Torture (“SOAT”) and Geneva-based Observatoire indicating that Sudanese lawyer Gazi Suliman was arrested on July 2nd 2003 and then disappeared while in police custody. LRWC is gravely concerned about Mr. Suliman’s current whereabouts and his physical and psychological integrity.
Mr. Suliman was arrested at his home at approximately 8:00 am by several Sudanese National Security (NSA) members. He was then transported to the NSA Political section near Al-Faroq cemetery and questioned about the Khartoum Declaration (E’laan El Khartoum), the Machakos Protocol, the Cairo Declaration, and a press conference scheduled to take place at Mr. Suliman’s office the same day concerning the official signing of the Khartoum Declaration.
At approximately 10:00 am on July 2nd 2003, following two hours of interrogation, Mr. Suliman was briefly returned to his home to collect a few personal belongings and to inform his family that he was being taken to Kober Prison. He was then taken away again by NSA personnel and has not been heard from since. Mr. Suliman’s family members have attended at Kober Prison and NSA headquarters, but have been told that Mr. Suliman is not being held at either location.
Further, following the questioning of Mr. Suliman on July 2nd, NSA members went to, and surrounded, Mr. Suliman’s office in an attempt to prevent the press conference regarding the Khartoum Declaration from proceeding. NSA members detained those present for the press conference for one hour before transferring them to NSA headquarters and eventually releasing them later in the day.
Your Excellency, LRWC requests that the Government of the Republic of Sudan take all measures to determine the whereabouts of Mr. Suliman, release him and guarantee his physical and psychological safety. We also request that you order an immediate investigation into Mr. Suliman’s disappearance with a view to identifying those responsible, bringing them to trial and applying the relevant penal, civil and administrative sanctions.
LRWC also strongly urges the Government of Sudan to put an end to the repression of Sudanese human rights lawyers. In this regard, we entreat Sudan to conform with national and international law concerning protection of lawyers and the rule of law, including:
- The Constitution of the Republic of Sudan, and especially Articles 11 and 30 which provide, respectively, that the Republic of Sudan “shall guard justice” and that everyone shall enjoy security of the person, free from arrest or detention, “except in accordance with law which shall prescribe the charge, the maximum time limit that one may be held without charge, the means of release and the conditions of treatment while in detention”;
- The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. We especially note Article 16, which provides, “Governments shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and Article 17 which imposes a duty of member states to protect lawyers as follows: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities”. We also note that Sudan, as a member of the United Nations General Assembly, is bound by the Basic Principles, which was welcomed by the General Assembly in 1990.
- The Declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and especially Articles 1 and 12(2), the latter of which provides: “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration”.
LRWC also expresses the hope that the Government of Canada will exercise all available influence to persuade the Republic of Sudan to respect established and emerging international law protecting the rights of Sudan’s lawyers and human rights workers.
Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax, of the actions that the Government of Sudan is taking in relation to the matters discussed above. LRWC awaits your response.