SUDAN: Three lawyers murdered for defending human rights
2 October 2023
Sudanese human rights lawyers Mohammed Ahmed Kudia, Khamis Arabab and Khidir Sulieman Abdelmageed were murdered between 28 May and 11 June in Darfur.
Since the impeachment of President Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, the deterioration of the situation in Sudan has been particularly marked by civil, inter-ethnic and economic turmoil and tensions, significantly affecting the human rights situation.
Mohammed Ahmed Kudia, the first victim, was killed in his home on 28 May 2023. Members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group then set fire to the house of the lawyer, who was active in the defence of human rights, particularly within a network of activists in Darfur. He also defended victims of looting, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.
Two days later, members of the RSF also murdered Khamis Arabab. The lawyer was a member of the Darfur Bar Association and worked to support victims of human rights violations in the region.
On 11 June 2023, Khidir Sulieman Abdelmageed was murdered as he was fleeing his home following death threats against him. The lawyer was the head of the human rights organisation Afkar in Sudan, which provides free medical assistance to people affected by the devastating war in the country. Khidir Sulieman Abdelmageed also worked with other international human rights organisations.
The Darfur Bar Association reported that the three Sudanese lawyers had received death threats from members of armed militias.
The Observatory condemns the murders of these three lawyers committed to human rights and wishes to express its solidarity with the families of the victims and their Bar Association.
The Observatory urges the Sudanese authorities to conduct an independent, fair and transparent investigation in order to obtain justice for the lawyers Mohammed Ahmed Kudia, Khamis Arabab and Khidir Sulieman Abdelmageed.
In order to guarantee the integrity and security of lawyers, the Observatory reminds the Sudanese authorities that, in accordance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular principles 16, 17 and 23:
Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”
Principle 17: “Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
Principle 23: “Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”