The draft of Sudan’s new Voluntary and Humanitarian Work Act aims to control the civil society organisations in the country, says Dr El Bagir El Afif Mukhtar, head of the El Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development.
Mukhtar said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that “the draft text of the bill on voluntary work which the government intends to pass this year is a bad law. Both the old law of 2006 and the one proposed this year pose a threat to the Sudanese civil society as they aim to curb its independence.
“The draft act has an undemocratic intent. It does not consider the civil society a partner and a guardian and observer of the government's actions. On the contrary, it monitors the civil society as a guard.”
The well-known civil society activist said that the civil society forces in the country will present an alternative version of the law text.
“The Civil Society Confederation has conducted a study of the 2006 Act and the 2017 draft. It identified the shortcomings in the texts, and proposed alternative articles for the new act,” he said.
The El Khatim Adlan Centre was closed on 31 December 2012 by officers of the governmental Humanitarian Aid Commission, supported by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The Centre used to be Khartoum’s leading pro-democracy think-tank. Now operating from the Ugandan capital of Kampala, it aims to establish long-term peace and stability in Sudan through human rights and human development projects.
On 31 December 2012, the Nuba Mountains-based ARRY Organisation for Human Rights and Development, was also shut by the authorities. The closure of the centres came a week after the Sudanese Studies Centre, legally registered as a civil society organisation working to promote dialogue on culture and democracy, was closed by the Ministry of Information and Culture. The Cultural Forum for Literary Criticism had been closed earlier in 2012.
In March 2013, the Sudanese authorities closed the Aslan English language teaching centre in Khartoum. The Centre for Civil Society Development was shut in the Sudanese capital on 10 September 2014. In June that year, the Ministry of Justice revoked the registration license of Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre in Khartoum.
The Sudan Human Rights Monitor in Khartoum , founded by the well-known human rights defender Dr El Amin Mekki Madani, was raided and closed by security agents on 21 December 2014. In January 2015, the Ministry of Culture cancelled the registration of the Mahmoud Mohamed Taha Centre and the National Civil Forum. On 26 March 2015, security agents stormed the Tracks Training and Human Development Centre in central Khartoum without an explanation and confiscated the Centre’s belongings. Tracks was definitely closed in March 2016.
In January 2015, the Ministry of Culture cancelled the registration of the Mahmoud Mohamed Taha Centre in Omdurman, the National Civil Forum, and the Sudanese Writers’ Union, without citing reasons or relevant legislation.
Dr Mudawi Ibrahim, the founder of the Sudan Social Development Organisation (Sudo) closed by the authorities in 2009 is still in detention in Kober prison in Khartoum North. He was held in December last year by NISS officers without charges.
The Writers’ Union was allowed to reopen in December last year.