On the Edge of the Abyss: Defending Human Rights in Sudan

Seminar date: 
28 September 2010
Speaker(s): Ali Algab and Monim Elgak

Ali Agab used to work as a human-rights lawyer and legal-aid coordinator for the Khartoum Centre for Human Rights and Environmental Development (KCHRED). However after President Omar al-Bashir's indictment by the International Criminal Court in March 2009, the KCHRED was closed down by the Sudanese government in a clampdown on national and international NGOs. Ali has since been granted asylum in the UK and is currently working at the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.

Monim Elgak worked as a consultant for several NGOs in Sudan and was an outspoken advocate on justice, accountability and human-rights violations. In November 2008, Monim was arrested in Khartoum by three NISS agents and subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment while in detention. After being released, he fled Sudan and is now based in Kampala and Juba. In November 2009, Monim submitted a complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) over the Sudanese authorities' treatment of Osman Hummaida, Amir Suleiman and himself in November 2008.

Human-rights violations, including secret detention and torture, have created a climate of fear in Sudan and human-rights defenders, political dissidents, students and members of ethnic minorities continue to be arbitrarily arrested and detained. The main agent of government repression is the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), whose members have immunity from prosecution for all crimes committed in the course of their work. Restrictions on basic civil and political rights - and on the activities of those who would defend these rights - have been tightened in the context of the presidential and parliamentary elections held in April 2010 and the referendum on unity or secession for Southern Sudan that is scheduled for January 2011. 

Ali Agab and Monim Elgak will describe the realities of defending human rights in Sudan and give their views on the likely human-rights impact of the referendum campaign and its outcome. They will attempt to outline how human rights can be protected in this critical period and how perpetrators of human-rights violations could be brought to justice and their victims granted redress.

The seminar has been organized in cooperation with Amnesty Netherlands as part of an international speakers' tour to raise awareness of issues of civil and political rights in Sudan.