REDRESS and Partners Welcome Acquittal of Sudanese Protestors in Trial Marred by Torture and Fair Trial Violations

REDRESS, the Missing Initiative, and the Sudanese Defenders Centre for Legal Aid welcome the acquittal and release of eight pro-democracy protestors in Sudan. They were released on 6 March.

The activists were charged last year with killing a Sudanese military intelligence sergeant and faced a trial marred by serious allegations of torture, fair trial violations, and witness intimidation. However, the proceedings collapsed after the presiding judge found that there was insufficient evidence to convict the activists and that there had been “many errors” and “abuses” in the investigation process.

Last year, our human rights organisations raised their case before the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, highlighting in our submissions that these activists had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and urging the UN experts to act to prevent further torture and ill-treatment, and to ensure their fair trial.

REDRESS, the Missing Initiative, and the Sudanese Defenders Centre for Legal Aid will now be urging the UN experts to call on the Sudanese authorities to:

  • conduct a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into the serious allegations of torture and the procedural irregularities during their detention and trial;
  • provide reparations to these individuals in accordance with international standards; and
  • address the continued detention and ill-treatment of other activists who have been maliciously charged with unfounded offences, including ‘Tupac’ and the three other young men charged with killing a police brigadier general.

Since the 2021 military coup, REDRESS, the Missing Initiative, and the Sudanese Defenders Centre for Legal Aid have repeatedly denounced the targeting of activists, protestors, journalists, and political figures, carried out by the Sudanese authorities to quash dissent. The eight activists were arrested without warrant in March 2022, after a military intelligence officer, Sgt. Mirghani al-Jilly, was found dead following a civilian protest in Khartoum. They were all charged with alleged involvement in the sergeant’s killing.

Consistent with this pattern of targeted arrests, the individuals are active members of Khartoum-area neighbourhood resistance committees – local grassroots groups which regularly organise pro-democracy protests in Sudan. All were denied access to legal counsel for up to three months after their arrest. All were subjected to torture or ill-treatment during detention.

During the trial, none of the prosecution witnesses presented credible or independent evidence linking any of the activists to the sergeant’s death. Instead, one prosecution witness testified that he had been blackmailed, tortured, and coerced into testifying against the eight protestors. Another witness’ testimony was deemed unreliable as he was found to be an ex-colleague of the sergeant.

For more information, please contact: Eva Sanchis, Head of Communications at REDRESS, at [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7793 1777.

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Photo credit: David Rose/Panos Pictures