Urgent Interventions

Sudan: Arbitrary arrests of Mr. Paul Foreman and Mr. Vincent Hoedt


SDN 001 / 0605 / OBS 038
Arbitrary arrests and detention / Judicial proceedings

June 1, 2005

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Sudan.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT) of the arbitrary arrest of two senior officials of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF).

According to the information received, on May 30, 2005, Mr. Paul Foreman, country Director of MSF – Holland, which coordinates MSF operations in Sudan, was arrested in Khartoum by security forces and taken before the Prosecuting Attorney in charge of the crimes against State, Mr. Mohamed Farid. Mr. Foreman was charged under articles 66 (Publication of False News), 96 (Omission to Produce Document or Deliver Statement) and 53 (Espionage against the Country), which is punishable with death under the 1991 Penal Code.

The charges against Mr. Foreman would be related to a report published by MSF-Holland in March 2005 in celebration of International Women’s Day entitled The Crushing Burden of Rape: Sexual Violence in Darfur. Compiled by MSF doctors, it detailed some 500 cases of rape in the course of four and a half months in Darfur. The government reportedly requested through the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) for MSF-Holland to refrain from publishing the report on the grounds that the information contained in the report was “false” and that “these kinds of false reports damage the image of Sudan”. Before Mr. Foreman’s arrest, State authorities would have requested that MSF-Holland provide the medical documents used in the publication and evidence in support of its claims. But MSF-Holland refused to name its sources or share their medical files on the grounds of doctor-patience confidentiality.

After a warrant was issued for Mr. Foreman’s arrest and he was interrogated for three-and-a-half hours by the police, he was released on bail late on May 31, 2005, pending trial and on the grounds that he may not leave the country.

On May 31, 2005, MSF regional Coordinator for Darfur, Mr. Vincent Hoedt, was also arrested for what was probably the same reasons. Mr. Hoedt was transferred to Khartoum following his arrest in Nyala, in the southern part of Darfur. The charges against him are not yet known.

The Observatory strongly condemns the targeting of international humanitarian organisations working in Darfur. The Observatory further calls on Sudanese authorities to drop all the charges against Mr. Paul Foreman and Mr. Vincent Hoedt, as it is in contradiction with freedom of speech guaranted by the international provisions on human rights protection, and to ensure that humanitarian organisations and human rights defenders are able to conduct their invaluable work in Darfur in a manner that does not impede their work.

Action requested:
Please write to the authorities of Sudan urging them to:
i. guarantee in all circumstances the security and the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Paul Foreman and Mr. Vincent Hoedt, as well as that of all human rights defenders in the country as a whole, and put an end to all forms of harassment against them;

ii. release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Vincent Hoedt, as his detention is arbitrary for it aims at curtailing the exercise of his human rights activities hence his freedom of expression;

iii. ensure that Mr. Paul Foreman be brought before a competent and impartial tribunal without delay, so that the charges against him be dropped as they are arbitrary;

iv. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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”;

v. ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Sudan in accordance with international human rights standards.

  • His Excellency Lieutenant General Omar Hassan al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan, Presidential Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 783 223

  • Mr Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 788 941

  • Mr Mustafa Osman Ismail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan, fax : + 249 183 779 383

  • Advisory Council for Human Rights, Dr Yasir Sid Ahmed, PO Box 302, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: +249 183 770 883

  • Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha, Rapporteur, Advisory Council for Human Rights, PO Box 302, Khartoum (Sudan), Fax No.: + 249 183 77 08 83

  • His Excellency Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, First Vice-President, People’s Palace, PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 771025

  • Prof. Ali Mohamed Ali Shommou, The National Press and Publications Council, P O Box 11111, Khartoum, Sudan, Fax: + 249 183 77 19 25

  • His Excellence Ambassador Mr. Mohamed Elhassan Ahmed Elhaj, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, PO Box 335, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 731 26 56, Email:;

Please also write to diplomatic representations of the Republic of Sudan in your respective countries.

Geneva - Paris, June 1, 2005

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: E-mail:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
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