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UN demands to reveal the fate of a forcibly disappeared Sudanese activist and to release her immediately

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: 6 April 2022

UN experts express their serious concerns about the exposure of Sudanese human rights defender and women’s rights activist, Amira Osman, to arbitrary arrest in Khartoum, on 22 January, as she has been subjected to enforced disappearance since then without any information about her fate or whereabouts.

Arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance:

In their memorandum sent to the Sudanese authorities, on February 4, 2022, the experts explained that Osman has been the head of the “No to Women’s Oppression Initiative” since 2013, and has been at the forefront of women’s rights activists, especially with regard to imposing a dress code for women under the regime’s laws.

The experts said in their memo that a group of about 30 armed men wearing masks and civilian clothes raided the home of the Osman family, located in the Riyadh neighborhood of Khartoum, terrifying all members of her family, including children, adding that during her arrest, Osman was not informed of the reasons for her arrest, the authorities who ordered her arrest, and the affiliation of the forces that made the arrests, and she was not presented with an arrest warrant, and she was then transferred to an unknown location.

The experts pointed out that Osman suffers from a pre-existing medical condition that causes partial paralysis and limits her ability to move without a stick, and needs continuous treatment and medication.

Uncertainty about her place of detention:

The experts added that on January 23, Osman’s family filed a legal complaint with the Eastern Division prosecutor within the Sudanese Public Prosecution, who initiated a procedure under the provisions of the Sudanese Criminal Code related to crimes against personal freedom and invasion of privacy. On the same day, the family submitted another complaint to the police demanding that they search for her and reveal her fate and whereabouts.The police reportedly refused to register the case and instead advised the family to inquire at the General Intelligence Service, saying they might have more information. Following the request to the General Intelligence Service, Osman’s family was informed that she was not being held by the security apparatus, and cannot be found in their records.

Arrest in retaliation for her human rights activism:

The experts expressed grave concern about the arbitrary arrest and alleged enforced disappearance of the activist by official security forces or groups operating with state approval, which could endanger her physical and mental integrity, as well as her life. They are also concerned that Osman may have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and alleged enforced disappearance in retaliation for her women’s rights activism, expressing serious concerns that the arbitrary arrest and enforced disappearance of Amira took place in the context of a pattern of violence against women human rights defenders and activists in the country, which “had a chilling impact on civil society in the country.”

UN demands from the Sudanese authorities:

The experts called on the Sudanese authorities to provide information on the steps they have taken to investigate the alleged enforced disappearance of Ms. Osman in order to ascertain her fate and whereabouts and to ensure the protection of her human rights, including in particular her right to life, liberty, personal security, and physical and moral integrity.

The experts also called on Sudan to provide detailed information on the steps taken to determine Ms. Osman’s current health status, and any other measures expected to prevent any serious or irreparable harm to her personal safety, and to ensure that she has access to medicines and other medical treatments required by her health conditions.

They also called on authorities to provide information on the factual and legal reasons for her arrest and detention, and how the lack of information surrounding her arrest and detention, which amounts to incommunicado or secret detention since January 22, 2022, is consistent with international human rights obligations in Sudan.

In the event of her arrest, the experts requested clarification of why she was not brought before a judge immediately after her arrest to determine the legality of her arrest and detention, and the disclosure of where she was being held, with the authorities who ordered this, the authorities who carried out her abduction, and the expected measures to hold accountable those responsible for her abduction and arbitrary detention. and enforced disappearance.

The experts also requested the authorities in Sudan to provide information on the measures taken to ensure that Ms. Osman is immediately allowed to contact her family, lawyer or any other person of her choosing and receive visits, and submit her without delay to a judicial authority, so that the latter can decide the legality of her deprivation of liberty. They called for outlining the measures that have been taken to ensure that all human rights defenders in Sudan, particularly those working in the field of women’s rights, can carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without any fear of threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearance or any other restrictions.

Sudanese response to the UN memorandum:

The Sudanese authorities responded to that memorandum, denying that Ms. Osman had been arbitrarily arrested or subjected to enforced disappearance, stressing that the police had arrested Ms. Amira Osman Hamid, according to an arrest warrant issued by the North Khartoum Police Department in Case No. 75/2022, according to Article 26 of the Weapons and Ammunition Act, in which a total of 12 pieces of ammunition (9 mm) were found in her home, and she confessed to possessing them during the investigation.
In their response, the Sudanese authorities added that after her arrest and initial investigation, Osman was deposited in Omdurman Women’s Prison, then released on bail after the investigation ended on February 26, 2022, stressing that she was not subjected to enforced disappearance, as stated in the UN memorandum. Her family learned that she was being held in Omdurman prison, and she was bringing her personal supplies and medicine. Nor can the conditions of her detention be described as arbitrary, as she was arrested based on a criminal complaint against her and an arrest warrant issued by the Public Prosecution.

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