Saleh Mahmud Osman

Re: Saleh Mahmud Osman

To: Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Vice President

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier of LRWC

Date: 2004-02-09

LRWC is a committee of Canadian lawyers that provides support to lawyers and human rights defenders around the world. We also promote the enforcement of human rights standards and the rule of law internationally.

LRWC is distressed by information indicating that Sudanese lawyer Saleh Mahmud Osman was arrested on February 1, 2004 and is now being held incommunicado and without charge at an unknown location.

LRWC has received a report from Amnesty International that Mr. Osman was arrested at his home in Wad Medani in Gezira State by members of the National Security Agency at 11:00 pm on Sunday, February 1, 2004. Mr. Osman was apparently held for one day at National Security Headquarters in Wad Medani. Then, on February 3, Mr. Osman’s wife was told that Mr. Osman had been transferred to Khartoum. His current place of detention is unknown. No charges have been announced against Mr. Osman. Mr. Osman’s wife has been denied access to him, and Mr. Osman has had no recourse to legal counsel.

LRWC is deeply concerned that Mr. Osman is being held as a prisoner of conscience, for reasons relating to his work providing legal aid to detainees, those facing capital punishment and victims of human rights abuses in Darfur. We call on you to order the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Osman. However, so long as Mr. Osman remains in custody, we seek your solemn assurances that Mr. Osman will have access to his family, medical care and will not be mistreated or tortured.

LRWC also strongly urges the Government of Sudan to end repression of Sudanese human rights lawyers. In this regard, we entreat Sudan to conform with national and international law concerning protection of lawyers, the detained 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 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and especially Articles 9 and 10, dealing with liberty, security of the person, and the right to humane conditions while in detention. We note that Sudan became a State Party to the Covenant in 1986 and that the obligations articulated therein are binding on the Republic of Sudan, as a matter of international law;
  • 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”. 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”.