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North Darfur lawyers demand release of human rights defenders

July 27 - 2020 EL FASHER
Kutum in 2013: Army soldiers guard the market of Kutum as policemen are absent (File photo)
Kutum in 2013: Army soldiers guard the market of Kutum as policemen are absent (File photo)

On Sunday, dozens of lawyers protested in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, against rampant insecurity and arbitrary detentions in the region.

The vigil was held in front of the El Fasher Courts complex. Protestors condemned the recent attacks in Fata Borno, Kutum, Gereida, Misterei, and elsewhere in Darfur, in which dozens of people were killed. They also called for the release of people arrested after violent incidents in Kutum and Fata Borno.

Banners called for justice and accountability, including the dismissal of the North Darfur government secretary-general and abolition of the State of Emergency.

They called for an end to arbitrary detentions, and urged the release of lawyer Madani Abdelrahman, member of the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), who was held, together with others, in Kutum last week.

The DBA said in a press statement on Sunday that Abdelrahman, along with 15 others detained in Kutum, were transferred to the Police Department in the North Darfur state capital.

Members of the DBA were allowed to visit their colleague in El Fasher. Abdelrahman told them that the detainees were subjected to physical and mental abuse. They were beaten with electric batons and gas pipes, kicked, and insulted.

Violation of law

The measures taken by the North Darfur state Security Committee constitute “a violation of the law”, the DBA states. “Torturing people to extract legal confessions against themselves, was practised by the deposed regime, to obscure the facts.”

The Darfur lawyers called for the immediate release of the detainees “based on the fact that the reports filed against them are based on invalid and illegal procedures”.

Militia attacks

On July 12, demonstrators in Kutum torched the town’s police station in protest against the inability of the authorities to stop the recurrent attacks by gunmen in the area. The next day, militiamen stormed the sit-in at the Fata Borno camp for the displaced near Kutum. Ten people were killed.

The North Darfur government sent extra military and police forces to Kutum locality to contain the situation.

On 22 July, a delegation from Khartoum, headed by Sovereign Council member Lt Gen Ibrahim Jabir, arrived in Fata Borno for a visit to the camp.

After hearing the demands of the sit-in, the delegation told the displaced 23 July that a federal commission will investigate the militia attack on the camp’s sit-in.

The delegation members further promised the camp residents yesterday to deploy “a force of 50 vehicles headed by a major general”, to protect the people in the locality, as well as the farmlands during the rainy season.

The force will also be tasked with the removal of illegal settlers from the farms of the displaced, and collecting weapons, motorcycles and four-wheel drive vehicles from the many former militiamen in the area.

The spokesperson for the Fata Borno camp told reporters after the meeting on 23 July, that the two parties also agreed to restore the police station and appoint a public prosecutor in Kutum. Furthermore, two water stations will be constructed, in addition to a building for the Women’s Development Centre.

A committee with members from the Sudan Armed Forces, the prosecution, and people from the area will follow up the implementation of the agreement. The sit-in will only be lifted after the demands have been met on the ground, the spokesperson concluded.

Troops deployed

Yesterday Sudan’s Prime Minister announced that a joint force of army soldiers, members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, and security officers will be deployed in Darfur following a spike in violence in the region. The forces will be sent to all five Darfur states to protect the public from attacks and secure the current agricultural season.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Security and Defence Council discussed imposing Rule of Law by force to preserve lives and property, stopping attacks by outlaws, and implementing a plan to protect civilians. The need to activate the role of joint security forces in carrying out security measures and strengthen the role of law enforcement agencies to prevent impunity for crimes committed was also stressed.

 


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