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Call for Sudan’s Public Order Law to be reinstated sparks public outcry

March 26 - 2021 KHARTOUM
(Hala Y Alkarib)
(Hala Y Alkarib)

Yesterday, the Sudanese Interior Ministry distanced itself from remarks by the Director of Khartoum State Police, Lt Gen Eisa Ismail, calling for the Public Order Law to be reinstated “to combat crime”.

In a press statement, Ismail expressed dissatisfaction with what he called the “Sudanese feeling of increased freedom after the Revolution”. He said that society demanded the return of the law in a new form, stressing its importance and necessity for preserving society's traditions, customs, and the protection of families.

He stressed the need to enforce the law according to a new approach that won’t impact personal freedoms, including dress code. He also said that it will derive from criminal law.

The Interior Ministry “is committed to the requirements of the [transitional period] and supportive of the popular will to achieve change and lay down the foundations of the civil state," said the Ministry of the Interior in a statement on Thursday.

Ismail has also denied any criminality or involvement regarding the death of 13-year-old student, Samah El Hadi, in the El Salha neighbourhood of Omdurman last Friday.

El Hadi was shot three times and run over by a car, reports said. Neighbours have taken to social media to blame her father, who was briefly questioned by the authorities but released. No postmortem was carried out on her body.

Ismail said in press statements that the “procedures taken by the police are legal and professional,” explaining that the investigations have proven that all the circulating accounts about what the student was exposed to and her circumstances are incorrect.

The police were accused by activists of colluding with the family of the victim to open a report under Article 51, which meant that there was no need for an autopsy. Activists on social media called this a violation of the rights of girls and women, using the hashtag “killing me”.

Public outcry

The statements of the Director of Khartoum State Police sparked widespread reactions on social media. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, the leader of the No to the Oppression of Women initiative, Amira Osman, expressed her regret at his demand for the restoration of the Public Order Law.

She said that the statements mean that the former regime is still present in the corners of Sudan’s judicial institutions, stressing the importance of carrying out a campaign to remove members of the police associated with the former regime under Omar Al Bashir. She said that the police are trying to regain immunity and return to using whips. “Because of this,” she said, ‘‘the revolution is not yet complete.”

The No to Women's Oppression initiative organized a protest in front of the Public Prosecutor, on Thursday, in response to the case of student Samah and domestic violence. Activists and Resistance Committees have demanded Ismail’s dismissal on social media.

Prosecution of case

The Violence Against Women Unit said that it has communicated with the Public Prosecutor's Office about the case of Samah and are preparing a memorandum calling for a correction of the legal course of the case.

The unit requested that the report be transferred to the Family and Child Protection Unit, following the jurisdiction, exhumation, and autopsy of the body. They said that the public need to find the cause of death, stressing that in such cases it is the core responsibility of the Public Prosecution.

They also affirmed their endeavours to ensure the protection of women and girls from violence and said they would provide psychological and legal support services for survivors of gender-based violence.

They called on the transitional government to expedite the law to combat violence against women and to strengthen the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence, especially those that are within the family framework. They also stressed the need not to tolerate incidents of domestic violence that occur to women and children and that kinship or blood ties should not constitute immunity to anyone.

In November 2019, the Sudanese government repealed the Public Order Law, which disproportionately affected women. Women groups continue to call on the transitional government to do more and ratify important international instruments related to women’s rights including the Maputo Protocol and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).


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