Sudan: Unfair Sentencing of Women’s Rights Defender Waad Bahjat

Activists and human rights defenders in Sudan have been facing serious restrictions by the government of Al-Burhan, which seeks to silence all voices, despite freedom of expression being one of the demands of the revolution.
The recent judicial harassment of Waad Bahjat is likely to be due to her activism to protect and promote Women’s rights.
On March 31, 2021, the Khartoum Criminal Court sentenced Waad Bahjat to a 6-month suspended prison sentence and to a fine of 10.000 Sudanese pounds (approximately 22 Euros) on charges of “public annoyance” and “use of criminal force” (art. 77 and 143 of the Sudanese Criminal Act). Ms. Bahjat was subsequently detained at the police station attached to the court for several hours after the judgment and released the same day following the payment of the fine. Ms. Bahjat will appeal the decision, according to the observatory.
The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Waad Bahjat, women’s rights defender, blogger, and member of the Umbda Resistance committee, an organisation that promotes civil and economic rights in Sudan.
Waad Bahjat was arbitrarily arrested and detained on November 8, 2020, by a police officer and an officer of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), subjected to threats and ill-treatment, and released the next day pending trial. Bahjat was arrested while she was broadcasting on her personal Facebook account the discrimination and acts of harassment perpetrated by members of the police and SAF officers against a group of women in a petrol station in Al-Amarat neighbourhood, Khartoum, the Observatory added.
On December 3, 2020, Waad Bahjat’s first hearing was held before the Khartoum Criminal Court. On January 10, 2021, in her second hearing, the Court dismissed the charges of “defamation”, “insulting a public servant exercising judicial proceedings” and “publishing false news”. However, the Court maintained the charges of “public nuisance” and charges Waad Bahjat with “using criminal force”. Bahjat pleaded not guilty and refuted the accusation.
“Together for Justice” urges the Sudanese authorities to lift the judicial sentence against the activist immediately and end all sorts of harassments against activists and human rights defenders in Sudan.
“Together for Justice” also calls on the Sudanese authorities to respect and uphold the international laws and the Sudanese constitution which provides that freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed to everyone, and should not be violated under any pretext.

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