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Forced Closure of Humanitarian Agency in West Darfur

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sudaneseonline.com
3/14/2006 11:34am

SOAT

Sudan Organisation Against Torture

Human Rights Alert: 14 March 2006

Forced Closure of Humanitarian Agency in West Darfur:

Sudan Social Development Organisation

On 11 March 2006, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the Government agency which oversees all humanitarian organisations in Sudan, issued a formal notice to the directors of the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO) in Zallingei and Geneina, ordering the suspension of all activities within west Darfur province.

The forced suspension of SUDO activities in west Darfur follows controversial changes to legislation affecting non-governmental organisations, passed under the Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act by parliamentary majority on 20 February 2006.

In a separate letter from HAC dated 11 March 2006, the new legislation was cited and further instructions for the suspension of activities and seizure of assets were outlined. The directors of SUDOs Zallingei and Geneina offices were ordered to hand over all the assets of the organisation including cars and two motorcycles; close down the health centre, nutrition centre and food distribution unit; hand over the keys and all stationeries belonging to the organisation and produce a full report on the income and expenditure of the organisation.

The HAC also reportedly sent a letter to the Agricultural Bank on 11 March 2006 ordering the bank to close SUDOs west Darfur office account and cease all transactions from 13 March 2006.

SOAT is seriously concerned about the government obstruction and intervention in the activities of SUDO, and the implications for the vulnerable civilian population in the region.

Background

SUDOs Zallingei office was previously closed in January 2006 but was reopened following negotiations and the intervention of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs.

This is the first time that the new Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act (2006) has been invoked since it was passed by parliament .

SOAT has expressed serious concern about certain provisions in the new Act which introduced broad and vaguely defined control measures upon the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The 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. SOAT fears that this vaguely defined legislation has given the authorities the opportunity to refuse to re-register some organisations using arbitrary criteria such as their criticism of the governments policies or for highlighting human rights violations.

SOAT calls on the Government of Sudan to:

i. Immediately investigate and provide reasons for the enforced suspension of SUDO activities in West Darfur;

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.

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: [email protected]

Website: www.soatsudan.org

END.

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