News from Khartoum
Lawyer says international Community responsible for protecting people, calls on Government to abide by law
Activist jurist Nabil Adeeb, has criticized the manner in which authorities disperse demonstrations that engulfed the country recently, and denounced articles in the criminal procedures code he says contravene the constitution.
In an article he wrote published by Al Taghyeer electronic newspaper on Monday 28 January, Adeeb indicated that police authorities in their statements did not explain why and how demonstrations were dispersed and upon whose order.
The lawyer explained the absence of a law organizing processions which is a constitutional right provided for in the Article 40, without being used (according to law). He added that the law does not criminalize organization of processions which means they are permissible but despite that, he explained, processions are dispersed and participants are tried, and punished under Article 69 relating to disturbance of public peace, which he considers unconstitutional due to ambiguity and lack of definite sense. He went on to say that disturbance of public peace can not include the exercise of a constitutional right, especially that the exercise of the constitutional right by the demonstrators does not mean they have disturbed public peace.
In his essay, the lawyer touched on Article 127, which he said grants a governor or commissioner, in coordination with a judge or a prosecutor, the power to ban or restrict organization of processions or assemblies, adding that the Article is defective as it does not protect the procession; rather, it seeks to ban it. He explained that the Article should have insisted on a notification from the organizers and to protect the demonstrators, and the authorities’ intervention should be limited to the time and route of processions to prevent road blocks.
He said Article 124 grants any officer or prosecutor the authority to disperse unlawful assembly that is likely to turn riotous or disturb public peace, affirming there is no law that defines unlawful assembly. He adds,” this does not preclude us from saying that banning a procession in such a manner is unconstitutional because it places no restrictions on the authority of a governor or commissioner in order to protect the right of demonstrators”.
Police are tasked to deal with demonstrators and judicial orders are also carried out by the police in the first place and intervention of any other force is only done based on Article 126 in case the senior prosecutor or officer decides that the number of his forces is not enough and then he may seek the help of another force to disperse assemblies which is also carried out in accordance with parameters.
Adeeb said participation of security forces in dispersing demonstrations contravenes laws and the constitution, adding dispersing processions is not a jurisdiction of the security forces which are done in accordance with orders from police officers or a prosecutor, and arresting protesters is the prerogative of the criminal police only under paragraph 3 of Article 125.
He went on to say that the international law obliges the government to strictly abide by provisions on civilian protection, and turned attention to the fact that the international community is responsible for protecting the people whose government fail to protect them.
Article 40/1 of the Constitution of the Sudan provides: The right to peaceful assembly shall be guaranteed; 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/her interests.