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Human Rights Agency Assets Frozen in Port Sudan

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sudaneseonline.com
4/18/2006 11:41am

SOAT

Sudan Organisation Against Torture

Human Rights Alert: 18 April 2006

Human Rights Agency Assets Frozen in Port Sudan

On 11 April 2006, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the Government body which regulates all voluntary organisations in Sudan, including both national and international human rights and humanitarian NGOs, issued a formal letter to the Women Awareness Raising Group -Red Sea, AWOON Red Sea, notifying them of the freezing of the organisations assets including the organisations account held at the Sudanese French Bank in Port Sudan until further notice.

The letter stated that the activities of AWOON Red Sea were illegal because the organisation had submitted a funding proposal to the European Union (EC) without first seeking the approval and the permission of the HAC.

Background

AWOON Red Sea is a women activists organization, chaired by the prominent lawyer and human rights defender, Ghada Awad Shawgi. The organisation provides legal assistance and legal advice for women in Port Sudan. It undertakes workshops, and training on human rights for women in Port Sudan.

Although the HAC invoked the Humanitarian Aid Commission Act 1988 in freezing the assets of AWOON Red Sea assets, it drew on the language of the new Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act passed by parliamentary majority on 20 February 2006 and which will supersede the 1988 Act once it is enacted.

This new Act bestows wide powers upon the government-appointed Commissioner General and Registrar General for Humanitarian and Voluntary work, including the power to periodically review the activities of non-governmental organisations and refuse to re-register organisations. Moreover, the Act contains broad and vaguely defined control measures upon the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

SOAT fears that this vaguely defined legislation has given the authorities the opportunity to refuse to re-register some organisations and to limit and curtail national voluntary organisations ability to source external funding notwithstanding that virtually all national NGOs depend on international donors, using arbitrary criteria such as their criticism of the governments policies or for highlighting human rights violations.

SOAT is seriously concerned about the continuing restrictions on freedom of association in Sudan as well as the deterioration in the situation of human rights defenders in Port Sudan. SOAT calls on the Government of Sudan to:

i. Make known the length of the HAC investigation and immediately allow the charity to operate in the absence of valid legal charges, or if legitimate charges exist, bring them before an impartial tribunal and guarantee procedural rights at all times;

ii. Repeal the Organisation of Humanitarian Work Act, 2006, in order to 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;

iii. 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 Omar Hassan al-Bashir

President of the Republic of Sudan

Presidents Palace

PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan

Fax: + 249 183 783223

His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit

First Vice-President

People's Palace

PO Box 281, Khartoum, Sudan

Fax: + 249 183 771025

His Excellency Ali Osman Mohamed Taha

Vice-President

People's Palace

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

Mr. Al Zubeir Beshir Taha

Minister of Interior

PO Box 873, Khartoum, Sudan

Fax: + 249 183 779383

Dr. Abdelmuneim Osman Mohamed Taha

Advisory Council for Human Rights

PO Box 302

Khartoum, Sudan

Fax: + 249 183 77088

SOAT is an international human rights organisation established in the UK in 1993. If you have any questions about this or any other SOAT information, please contact us:

Argo House

Kilburn Park Road

London NW6 5LF, UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 7625 8055

Fax: +44 (0)20 7372 2656

E-mail: info@soatsudan.org

Website: www.soatsudan.org

END.



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