Re: Salih Mahmud Osman, lawyer; Adel Abdallah Nasr al-Din
To: H.E. Lt. General Omar Hassan al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan
From: Catherine, A. Morris, BA, LLB, LLM
LRWC has written several letters during the past year to express concern about the wellbeing of lawyers and human rights defenders in Sudan. We are increasingly disturbed that the violence and widespread human rights violations in the Darfur region are not improving, and that there are now international fears of a major humanitarian catastrophe. We join with other non-governmental human rights organizations worldwide in the continued hope that your government will begin to take effective measures to stop authorities and government sponsored militias from committing human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the current conflict.
We are writing today to express our continuing concerns about human rights violations against lawyers and human rights defenders, many of whom have been arrested and detained without charges since January, 2004. In particular, we are concerned about Mr. Salih Mahmoud Osman, a member of the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) lawyers network in Nyala, Darfur. He has been in detention since his arrest on February 1, 2004. He has not yet been charged with any offence nor has he been allowed to see his wife since April, 2004. While the grounds of his arrest and detention are not known, it is believed he is being detained because of legal activities in Darfur providing legal aid to those who face capital punishment or human rights abuses. We have learned that Mr. Salih Mahmoud Osman, began a hunger strike in protest on June 30, 2004, and we are, therefore, now gravely concerned for his health which is complicated by high blood pressure and diabetes.
We also understand that Mr. Adel Abdallah Nasr al-Din, another SOAT lawyer in Nyala, was arrested by security forces on June 16, 2004 at 1 pm., taken to security forces offices in Nyala, and has been held incommunicado since then. We understand he has not been formally charged with any offence. Mr. Adel provides legal aid to persons sentenced to death or amputation, and it is believed that Mr. Adel’s arrest is based solely on his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities including his participation with other lawyers in an April 2004 appeal to Southern Darfur security forces that all detainees in the Security Forces Detention Center be formally charged and brought to trial or else released.
These situations contravene the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998. Article 1 of the Declaration states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.” Article 12§2 provides that “[t]he 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.”
We are requesting your urgent attention to these matters. We urge your immediate steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the above named individuals, and to order their immediate release unless they are immediately charged with a valid legal offence and brought before an impartial court for a fair trial without delay. We also request your urgent attention to ensure that all relevant authorities comply with the above-mentioned Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders and all international human rights conventions and instruments.
We urge you to do your utmost to ensure that all persons acting on behalf of your government respect the international human rights standards to which Sudan is legally and morally bound.