Sudan Organisation Against Torture
Human Rights Alert: 19 July 2006
Arbitrary Detention and Seizure of Humanitarian organisation Assets in East Equatoria
On 4 July 2006, police officers in Ikotos in Torit, Eastern Equatoria arrested Charles Locker, Executive Director of Manna Sudan, a non governmental organisation working on reconciliation and conflict prevention in Southern Sudan.
The officers initially visited the premises of Manna Sudan in Ikotos to arrest Mr. Locker. When the officers were informed that Mr. Locker was not present, the officers arrested several of the staff and confiscated a number of the organisation’s assets including a vehicle.
In the evening of the same day, 4 July 2006, police officers visited Mr. Locker’s home where they arrested him. Following the arrest of Mr. Locker, the officers released the staff of Manna Sudan without charge.
On 6 July 2006, Mr. Locker was transferred to Torit where he is detained under house arrest and is facing no official charges, allegedly under the orders of the governor of Eastern Equatoria.
No reason was given for the arrests of the Manna Sudan staff and the arrest and detention of Mr. Locker. However it is believed Mr. Locker was arrested solely for his articles published on the internet criticising the role of the Eastern Equatoria governor and other local authorities’ role in the tribal clashes following cattle raiding.
Manna Sudan is a non-governmental organisation working on peace building, food security and human rights awareness and education through the promotion of dialogue and understanding within local communities to reduce violence in the region.
SOAT is seriously concerned about the arrest of Mr. Locker and calls on the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) to immediately investigate the detention of Mr. Locker, ensure that he has access to medical treatment, to legal counsel and to give assurances that he will not be subjected to torture or ill treatment.
SOAT recalls article 29 of the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan and article 39 (1) which states that “Every citizen shall have an unrestricted right to the freedom of expression, reception of information, publication, and access to the press without prejudice to order, safety or public morals as determined by law”.
SOAT calls on the Government of Southern Sudan to:
i. Order the immediate release of Mr. Charles Locker in the absence of valid legal charges or if legitimate charges exist, bring him before an impartial tribunal and guarantee procedural rights at all times;
ii. Take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Charles Locker;
iii. Conform with international and regional law and conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998), in particular with article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with the National Interim Constitution which provides under article 40 (1) that “...every person shall have the right to freedom of association with others including the right to form or join political parties, associations and trade or professional unions for the protection of his interest”.
The above recommendations should be sent in appeals to the following addresses:
His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit
President of Southern Sudan
PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 771025
Mr. Lam Akol Ajawin
Minister of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: + 249 183 779383
Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha
Advisory Council for Human Rights
PO Box 302
Fax: + 249 183 77088