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UN urged to intervene on behalf of abducted women's rights activist

January 28 - 2022 LONDON / KHARTOUM
The head of Sudan’s No to Oppression of Women initiative, Amira Osman (File photo: Supplied)
The head of Sudan’s No to Oppression of Women initiative, Amira Osman (File photo: Supplied)

UK justice organisation REDRESS has appealed to United Nations experts to urgently intervene on behalf of abducted Sudanese women’s rights activist Amira Osman, whose whereabouts remain unknown since she was allegedly taken by Sudanese security forces during a raid on her home last Saturday.

REDRESS, a London-based NGO that aims to deliver justice and reparation for survivors of torture, challenge impunity for perpetrators, and advocate for legal and policy reforms to combat torture, published a statement on their appeal yesterday.

In their statement, they explain that the current “deterioration in the human rights situation in Sudan, and particularly the grave human rights violations committed against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders, puts Amira at imminent risk of torture and ill-treatment”.

Osman’s detention has prompted condemnation from within Sudan and from the United Nations mission in the country.

The organisation also stressed that Amira faces an enhanced risk of further harm, as she was partially paralysed in an accident a few years ago, “but at the time of her arrest she was denied medication that she needs to treat her condition”.

REDRESS’s submission to the UN “urges the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the UN Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, to call on the Government of Sudan to provide information on Amira's whereabouts and the reasons for her arrest, and that they immediately release her or bring her before a judge”.

REDRESS also urges the UN experts to request that Sudan’s authorities protect Amira’s life and that they guarantee that she does not suffer torture and ill-treatment and that her medical needs are met.

Women's rights activist Amira Osman at a demonstration (REDRESS)

 

“The submission further highlights that the circumstances surrounding Amira’s arrest follow a pattern typical of sweeping arrests of both high-level political leaders and grassroots activists carried out since the military coup on 25 October 2021 by Sudan’s security and intelligence services”, the organisation wrote.

“Those arrested have been held in unknown detention centres by security forces using methods similar to those under the rule of former president Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown during an uprising in 2019.

'Those arrested have been held in unknown detention centres by security forces using methods similar to those under the rule of former president Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown during an uprising in 2019'

“Since the start of 2022, human rights organisations have also documented an alarming rise in violations against women. Amira campaigned for women’s rights in Sudan under the rule of al-Bashir. She was arrested in 2013 under public order laws for refusing to wear a headscarf and was convicted and fined in 2002 for wearing trousers.

“In 2019, Sudan’s pre-coup transitional government formally abolished some of the public order laws used to control women’s dress and behaviour, though women continued to be subjected to punishments under the repealed laws.

“REDRESS and Sudanese partners had long advocated for these critical reforms as well as the ratification of several major human rights treaties, such as the UN Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, which Sudan ratified in August 2021”, the statement read.

Amira Osman’s arrest

Amira Osman was detained during a raid by security forces in her home in Khartoum in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The No to Oppression of Women Initiative, that Amira is the head of, said in a statement on Sunday that a security force raided Osman’s home in the Riyadh neighbourhood just before midnight on Saturday, terrorised her family, and took her to an unknown destination.

Describing the raid on social media, her sister, Amani Osman Hamid, says that at least 30 people, armed with Kalashnikovs and batons, took part in the raid.

“We woke up to the sounds of banging on the doors and rooms in the house,” she says. The first member of the force she encountered – a masked man, identified himself as ‘drugs control’. “My mother had a breakdown and the children were screaming and terrified”.

Her abduction is part of a wider detention campaign carried out by the military leaders since the October 25 coup d’état in which many activists and lawyers have been arrested and detained.

Earlier this month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed “serious concern about the human rights situation in Sudan, with peaceful protesters killed or injured on a near-daily basis by security forces, as well as a clampdown on critics of the authorities and on independent journalists”.


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