Damazin — The Human Rights Development Organisation (HUDO) has appealed to the international diplomatic and humanitarian community to put pressure on the Sudanese government "to conduct a transparent and fair trial" for 85 detainees who have been held without trial for more than a year in the Blue Nile state.
In a statement on Friday, HUDO said that the detainees are part of a group of 113 that have been kept in various prisons in the state. Following heavy fighting between rebel forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) and government forces and militias in Blue Nile state in September 2011, Khartoum dismissed the state governor, replacing him with a military governor who subsequently declared a State of Emergency:
"This gave state security authority to exercise arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killing involving a large number of civilians, accusing them of being affiliated to SPLM-N," the HUDO statement says.
Initially, 113 people were detained. In January 2013, 28 of them were released, while criminal charges were brought against the remaining 85 under the Penal Code, the Weapons and Ammunition Act and the Combating of Terrorism Act.
In an announcement at a press conference in Khartoum on 8 May, the supervisor and consultant to the Special Prosecution Unit, Mohammed Fareed, declared that the court sessions had begun two days earlier in Singa, the capital of Sennar state, 200 km north of Blue Nile state capital Damazin.
Fareed also said that the leader and general secretary of the SPLM-N, Malik Agaar and Yasir Arman would be charged in absentia.
The defendants are being represented by members of the Nuba Bar Association, as well as lawyers from the Sudan Association for Freedom and Rights. However, HUDO complains that the conditions for a fair and transparent process are being compromised by irregularities.
"The cases against Musa Jahalla Ando, Elsir Aamir Elzaki, Abdalla Al Zain Ragab, Omda Al Rasheed, Gomaa Hamid Mansour, Sheikh Ali Al Nour, and 79 other defendants are all dated 2011, which means that they were either backdated, or they were opened at a time that the defendants had no access to legal representation," the statement says. "On the day of the trial, the prosecutors and investigators failed to attend court, causing the judge to postpone the cases until next week."
HUDO states that the current course of the trial is unfair to the accused and does not uphold standard international judicial procedures. "We therefore appeal to all national and international human rights organisations, and the international community to urge the Sudan government to conduct a transparent and fair trial, and at least to attend the court sessions."
In a statement on 14 May HUDO urged governments to put pressure on Khartoum to release a group of 18 women, detained without trial in Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, who embarked on a hunger strike to draw attention to their plight. They were arrested at various points last year for alleged links to SPLM-N.
Related: Detained women on hunger strike in North Kordofan prison, Sudan (14 May 2013)