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Civilians Could Face Unjust Prosecution Under Sudan Armed Forces Act
Freedom House condemns new amendments to Sudan’s Armed Forces Act which will allow for civilians to be prosecuted in military courts for committing crimes against the “state’s security.” The amendments – which were passed on July 2, 2013 by the Sudanese Parliament but have yet to be signed by President Omar al-Bashir – would allow the government to further clamp down on civil society in Sudan. We urge President Bashir to send the amendments back to Parliament for revisions, as the current amendments fail to comply with Sudan’s international legal obligations.
Military courts would be free to try civilians for crimes under Sudan’s 1991 criminal code which include “leaking classified information,” “publication of false news” and “undermining the constitutional systems,” all of which are thought to be measures to suppress the opponents of the National Congress Party and to curb freedom of expression.
Sudan, ruled by military strongman Omar al-Bashir since 1989, ranks among the world's most repressive regimes. Following South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. Tensions reached a boiling point in 2012 between Sudan and South Sudan when South Sudan halted oil production and subsequently took over Sudan’s main oil field. In July 2012, the military attacked students who were demonstrating in Nyala, Darfur, firing live ammunition at the crowd. The Khartoum government is embroiled in a conflict with the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) - North in the regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and in the area of the Nuba Mountains, which started in 2011. Attempts to find peace in Darfur are failing. In June 2013, the National Consensus Forces, an umbrella of opposition organizations, announced that they would start a 100-day campaign to mobilize people with the aim to change the regime peacefully.