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Sudan's NCF criticizes bar association's plea for the release of opposition figures.

January 6, 2015 (KHARTOUM) -- Sudan's opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) has firmly rejected a request submitted by the Bar Association to president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to release its chairman Farouq Abu Issa.

A flyer showing Amin Mekki Mandani (L) Farah Agar (C) and Farouq Abu Issa calling for a solidarity meeting with the three political detainees organised by the National Umma Party on 13 December 2014

Last month, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Abu Issa and head of the Alliance of the Sudanese Civil Society Organizations, Amin Mekki Madani, besides former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) member, Farah Agar, and his office manager, Mohamed Eldoud.

Before their detention, Abu Issa and Madani had signed the "Sudan Call" declaration for peace and democracy with the rebel groups in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

The two lawyers are now charged with subversive activities and use of violence to overthrow the government, charges which carry the death penalty.

Bashir accused signatories of the "Sudan Call" of being agents to foreign powers and warned them from returning to the country.

The NCF, in a statement issued on Tuesday, criticized the Bar Association for demanding the release of Abu Issa and Madani because of their age, health condition and good faith, saying the role of the Bar Association is to defend public freedoms and human rights and it should have asked for their release on these grounds.

"The [Bar Association's] move underscores its affiliation and bias to the authority [government] which uses it as a tool to promote its policies" it added.

On January 2, Abu Issa asked his family and any other party to stop requesting his release on the basis of his age and health condition, assuring opposition forces and supporters that he remains steadfast and his morale is high.

The memo which was submitted by the Bar Association to Bashir through the justice minister pointed that action made by Abu Issa and Madani was only an intent, saying it was not coupled with physical action such as initiating or planning.

According to the memo which was signed by the president of the Bar Association, al-Tayeb Haroun, the charges faced by the two lawyers don't include Hudud (class of punishment under Shar'ia that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be 'claims of God') or Qisas (retaliation) and hence there are no legal obstacles to apply article (58) of the criminal code.

Haroun pointed the return of the accused to the country following the signing of the Sudan Call is a presumption of good faith towards the home country, saying if they had intended to destabilize the country, they would have stayed abroad to organize military or paramilitary groups to target the country and the people.

The memo noted that the age of the accused "requires us to treat them with kindness and gentleness as advocated by all religions and positive laws which give special consideration to elderly people during pre-trial, trial or punishment."

However, the memo harshly criticized the Sudan Call charter, saying it is not worth the ink it was written with.

It said the charter couldn't be accepted at all because it represents a clear violation for the rule of law.

"We are convinced that trial of the accused on the basis of this charter [Sudan Call] is useless and it is more appropriate to apply article (58) of the criminal code", it added.

On the other hand, the NCF statement said the Bar Association should have condemned arbitrary detentions and absence of public freedoms and demands release of all political detainees and convicts instead of begging and pleading for their release.

"The two lawyers [Abu Issa and Madani] have not authorized the Bar Association to submit a plea on their behalf", the statement added

It described the submission of the memo as "unethical" action and an attempt to distort the image of the steadfastness, heroism and resistance demonstrated by all detainees against violations of the regime and its security agencies.

The NCF further demanded immediate release of all political detainees and curbing of the systematic violations of the security apparatus against political leaders and freedoms.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Jan 7, 2015
Words:709
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