Compulsion of persons to abandon their thoughts and beliefs

This article aims to help lawyers working in the field of religious freedoms to defend people who are arrested without a specific charge, with the aim of forcing them to abandon their ideas and beliefs or to stop spreading these ideas through the media.

The article also focuses on informing lawyers of the procedures that can be followed to release the arrested persons and ensuring that they enjoy their full freedom to adopt any ideas or beliefs they believe in. The article also aims to introduce the methods used by state institutions to compel people to give up their ideas, as the article explains the appropriate legal ways through which these methods can be opposed.



During the past three decades, many people, especially clergy, clergy have been subjected to a great deal of harassment, the most prominent of which were the arrest by the National Intelligence and Security Service (the Security and Intelligence Service now), property confiscation, deportation from the country for foreigners and the withdrawal of Sudanese citizenship from those who obtained it through naturalization and many other violations. As the 2010 National Security Apparatus Law used to allow for the arrest and seizure of funds, in most cases, and turned that into confiscation, outside the supervision of the public prosecution, equipped with absolute powers, the security apparatus started to represent the biggest threat to religious freedom in Sudan, exploiting its powers and harnessing all the capabilities of the state to liquidate the religious sects that the Islamic front regime is fighting for religious reasons sometimes and for financial gains at other times.

Despite the abolition of the authority of the Security and Intelligence Service related to the arrest of people and seizure of funds under the Miscellaneous Amendments Law of 2020, the agency still practices the same violations.

Step 1. Interviewing the victim and collecting primary data

When a person is arrested by the security service, it takes time for the arrested person family to know his/her where about. The lawyer is usually notified by the family or friends of the arrested person. The lawyer must listen to what family or friends say about the arrested person, and must make sure that the security services pursued the arrested person because of the ideas or beliefs s/he believed in. The lawyer also has to ask precise questions about everything related to the arrested person and the activities he is carrying out in order to find out the real reason for the arrest.

The security and police apparatus in Sudan pursue any person who adopts different ideas or belongs to a group of religious sects that the state trying to eradicate through its official religious institutions. And because the criminal law did not explicitly criminalize affiliation with these sects, the police and security services resorted to detaining the person without resorting to the criminal prosecution or the court, with the aim of forcing him to meet a committee specialized in the Islamic Fiqh Academy. The purpose of this committee is to engage in dialogue and discussion with the arrested person in order to renounce his/ her thoughts or beliefs. But in reality, this procedure is a compulsion of the arrested person to give up his/ her ideas, no more, because he is effectively in the grip of the security services and he has no choice but to give up his thoughts or beliefs. It is worth noting that most of those who refused to comply have faced long terms of imprisonment after being accused of undermining the constitutional order and inciting war against the state.

Step 2: Intervening as representative of the victim

In this type of cases, there is no court of first instance that the lawyer can appear before, because the arrested person is imprisoned by the security services for an indefinite period and in an unknown location where the arrested prisoner is not allowed to see his lawyer.

The lawyer can submit a request to the State Security Prosecution, in order to meet the detainee as a first step, and the person (detainee) is often released after this procedure without filing a complaint. In the event that the complaint is filed, according to its nature, the lawyer submits a request to release the accused on bail.

In such cases, there is no other way than to resort to the constitutional court and request the right of the arrested person to appear before a judge (Habeas Corpus). It is a request made by a lawyer to secure to bring the prisoner or detainee before a court to determine whether or not the person is detained legally. In Sudan, the Constitutional Court is competent to consider this request in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitutional Court Law of 2005, where it has the right to issue any order to any entity or person to bring a detained or imprisoned person before the court to consider the constitutionality of imprisonment or detention.

If it is proved through the facts before the Constitutional Court that the arrested person has been subjected to coercion to abandon his belief or ideas, then the lawyer must submit a petition to protect a constitutional right on behalf of the arrested person, and the case will be based on violating the constitution and the human rights covenants that provides for freedom of thought and belief, and also to demanded from the court to order the security forces not to arrest the victim again.

Attention must be paid to the issue of torture, which is of common occurrence by the security services. In the event that a person claims to have been tortured, the lawyer must file a complaint directly with the Public Prosecution, and then proceed with the procedures before a Criminal Court, or submit a request to the court at the beginning of the procedures requesting the transfer of the accused to a medical examination, in preparation to directing the court to file a complaint, which is the most speedy procedure especially if the accused is in custody, as he must initiate the procedures for filing the complaint , to the public prosecution , by himself or through an agent.

Trial Procedure

Clergymen, especially Christians, were frequently brought to court on blunt accusations of state security. In these communications, the lawyer must seek the assistance of the largest number of lawyers who support the issues of freedoms rights and in solidarity with him for two reasons: the first is to protect himself from being arrest, as it is difficult for the security services to arrest all lawyers, which exceeded their number in some cases, and the second reason is due to the importance of the role of advocacy, which has a great impact on this type of issue, exposing the practices of the security service agency and its real reasons for chasing these leaders often causing embarrassment for the security service agency and the government, followed by some improvement to the image of the regime. But it is necessary to consult the accused with this strategy and obtain his consent.

Step 3: filing a criminal case and the stages of appeal

If the arrested person claims that he was tortured, the lawyer must file a complaint directly with the Public Prosecution and then proceed with the procedures before the criminal court.

if the Public Court convicted the arrested persons of committing apostasy, the lawyer has to appeal this decision to Court of Appeal within 15 day from the date of decision.

If the Court of Appeal supported the decision of the Public Court, its decision should be appealed to the Supreme Court. And if the same happened by the Supreme Court, then the appeal should be submitted the Review Circuit at the Supreme Court.

Finally, after the exhaustion of these stages of litigation, the lawyer shall submit a constitutional action before the Constitutional Court asking the Court to declare the unconstitutionality of article 126 of the Criminal Act 1991 and to declare the innocence of the victim.