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Sudan: Amendment means protesters could now face five years in prison

January 25 - 2016 KHARTOUM
The Sudan Women Solidarity Movement organises a sit-in in down Khartoum against violence in Darfur, 17 January 2016 (RD)
The Sudan Women Solidarity Movement organises a sit-in in down Khartoum against violence in Darfur, 17 January 2016 (RD)

Sudanese human rights organisations and opposition parties strongly denounced the passing of an amendment to the Criminal Code by Parliament on Wednesday.

The amendment concerns an increased penalty for “rioting” to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment.

“This means that any demonstrator or protester can be considered a rioter and convicted to five years in prison,” Nabeel Adeeb, lawyer and head of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor commented to Radio Dabanga.

The lawyer expressed his surprise at the speed the amendment was passed. “It seems that the authorities accelerated the amendment in anticipation of an intifada. Does this mean that the government does not believe the National Dialogue will be successful?”

He said that instead, a law is needed to protect peaceful demonstrations and gatherings.

State terrorism’

Siddig Yousef, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, described the amendment to the article on riots in the Criminal Code as “state terrorism. The government intends to scare and intimidate the people in order to prevent a mass uprising”.

He attributed the urgency of the amendment to “the street protests staged in various parts of the country these days demanding the ending of the civil wars, the restoration of freedoms, and the provision of basic services such as clean drinking water or cooking gas”.

The opposition leader stressed that the new version of the article “will not stop the resistance in the country, which is expected to escalate soon”.

Deterioration

The National Consensus Forces (NCF) coalition of opposition parties said in a statement on Thursday that the new measure coincides with “a more than significant deterioration in the living conditions in the country, following increases in the prices of basic commodities such as bread, flour, sugar, and medicines, as well as the deterioration of the basic health and environment services”.

According to the statement, “there is no other way to overcome this situation than to change this regime through peaceful political means”.


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