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Sudan
08.04.21
Urgent Interventions

Sudan: Sentencing of women's rights defender Waad Bahjat

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
SDN 001 / 0121 / OBS 007.1
Sentencing /
Judicial harassment
Sudan
April 8, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Sudan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Ms. Waad Bahjat, women's rights defender, blogger and member of the Umbda Resistance committee, an organisation that promotes civil and economic rights in Sudan.

On March 31, 2021, the Khartoum Criminal Court sentenced Ms. Waad Bahjat to a 6-month suspended prison sentence and to a fine of 10.000 Sudanese pounds (approximately 22 Euros) on charges of "public annoyance" and "use of criminal force" (art. 77 and 143 of the Sudanese Criminal Act). Ms. Bahjat was subsequently detained at the police station attached to the court for several hours after the judgement and released the same day following the payment of the fine. Ms. Bahjat will appeal the decision.

The Observatory recalls that Waad Bahjat was arbitrarily arrested and detained on November 8, 2020 by a police officer and an officer of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), subjected to threats and ill-treatment and released the next day pending trial. Ms. Bahjat was arrested while she was broadcasting on her personal Facebook account the discrimination and acts of harassment perpetrated by members of the police and SAF officers against a group of women in a petrol station in Al-Amarat neighbourhood, Khartoum.

On December 3, 2020, Waad Bahjat's first hearing was held before the Khartoum Criminal Court. On January 10, 2021, in her secong hearing, the Court dismissed the charges of "defamation", "insulting a public servant exercising judicial proceedings" and "publishing false news". However, the Court maintained the charges of "public nuisance" and charged Waad Bahjat with "using criminal force". Ms. Bahjat pleaded not guilty and refuted the accusation.

The Observatory expresses its concern over the judicial harassment of Waad Bahjat, which seems to be connected to her legitimate activities as a women’s rights defender.

The Observatory urges the Sudanese authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her and all human rights defenders in Sudan, including Ms. Khadeeja Aldewaihi.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Sudan asking them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Waad Bahjat, as well as of all human rights defenders in Sudan;
  1. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Waad Bahjat and all human rights defenders in Sudan so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
  1. Carry out an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into alleged acts of ill-treatment against Ms. Waad Bahjat in order to bring all those responsible before a competent tribunal in accordance with international standards.


Addresses:

  • H.E. Mr. Mr. Ali Ibn Abi Talib Abdelrahman Mahmoud, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan United Nations in Geneva, Email: mission.sudan@bluewinch.ch,
  • Embassy of Sudan in Brussels, Email: sudanbx@yahoo.com

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Sudan in your respective country.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 8, 2021

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
· Tel FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

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