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ACJPS: ‘Review cases handled by dismissed Sudan judges’

September 2 - 2020 NEW YORK
People in front of the Omdurman court in August 2019 where the trial against the alleged tortureres of teacher Ahmed El Kheir began (RD)
People in front of the Omdurman court in August 2019 where the trial against the alleged tortureres of teacher Ahmed El Kheir began (RD)

The New York-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) said in a statement yesterday that all decisions taken by recently dismissed judges in Sudan must be reviewed.

The Empowerment* Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee was established by the Sudanese government at the end of last year to purge Sudan from the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. On August 23 2020, the committee dismissed 151 judges from service.

The committee, chaired by Sovereign Council member Lt Gen Yasir El Ata, is mandated among others to oversee the dissolution of the National Congress Party (NCP), through which Al Bashir’s regime ruled the country.

It is also responsible for seizing the party’s assets for the benefit of the government, and for dismantling all fronts and affiliates associated with the NCP or with any person or entity in a position of power with support of the party.

The judges were dismissed after the committee reviewed their performance and appointment documents on file. Those dismissed include: 35 high court judges, 38 appeal court judges, 30 general court judges, 18 first district court judges, four second district court judges, five third district court judges and 17 expert judges attached to judiciary on individual contracts, ACJPS stated.

Abuse of office

A reliable source has informed ACJPS that findings of the committee to dismantle the Al Bashir regime mentioned the abuse of office by the judges based on their affiliations with the past regime. Further, some of the dismissed judges were found to be security agents with the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS, now known as the General Intelligence Services, GIS).

The NISS is known for their active role in the suppression of dissent under the former regime.  Some dismissed judges were found to have attended military training related to the use of military weapons.

The committee further found out that some dismissed judges were involved in securing facilities owned by the NCP. Some judges were found to be corrupt or were appointed to their offices through corruption. For example, the committee found that expert judges were appointed because of their affiliations with the past regime and/or social relations with high-level judicial officers.

The past regime treated the judiciary like one of its political wings, and not as an independent arm of the state. Some judges occupied both ministerial and judicial positions based on their affiliation with the former regime.

Cases

Corruption and political influence within the Sudanese judiciary under the former regime was also reflected in how cases were handled. Political opposition, military movements and human rights defenders were subjected to unfair trials and harsh sentences. 

An example are the terrorism trials against members of the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM) in 2008 and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in 2009 that imposed the death penalty in trials that did not adhere to fair trial standards.

In 2017, three human rights defenders associated with the Tracks centre for Training and Development (TRACKs) were sentenced to one-year in prison and a fine amounting to over 7,000 Euros each. In 2015, the late Amin Mekki Madani and Farooug Abu Eisa were arbitrarily detained, and later charged with crimes against the state for attending Sudan Call negotiations.

During the 2019 uprising, judges were pressurized to implement emergency decrees that outlawed protests and provided for punishment for violations. Judges who refused to implement these decrees were banned from work.

Review

ACJPS calls on the Sudanese transitional government to establish a committee to review the cases and sentences issued by the dismissed judges, including cases against opposition leaders, human rights defenders, and members of the civil society, especially cases where the death penalty was imposed.

The centre also demands that the dismissed judges be investigated for abuse of office, judicial misconduct, and other administrative or criminal offences.

* The Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee was established by the new government in the end of last year, with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Al Bashir regime. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Omar Al Bashir supported its affiliates in state affairs by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions and the setting-up of various companies.


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