The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind for Christian Pastor Hassan Abduraheem, who faces a possible death sentence in Sudan for living out his Christian faith by loving those in need.
Last Monday, Pastor Kuwa Shamal – who had been arrested and tried alongside Pastor Hassan – was freed, while the case continued against Pastor Hassan. Yesterday, Pastor Hassan’s attorneys finished laying out Pastor Hassan’s defense. Next Monday, they will submit their final legal arguments, with a decision from the judge expected on January 23rd.
Among the laundry list of charges levied against Pastor Hassan and two other men standing trial with him are espionage and agitating hatred between classes, false charges that could carry a death sentence upon conviction.
As the case continues towards its conclusion, we are not hesitating to take any action we possibly can in our international legal advocacy campaign.
Today, we are sending a critical legal letter to Sudan’s Minister of Justice, Dr. Awad Al-Hassan Al-Noor, laying out the facts of the case and the numerous legal reasons why Pastor Hassan must be freed.
We would like to bring to your attention the criminal case against Christian Reverend Hassan Abduraheem, and respectfully request your help in ensuring he is released based on the government’s lack of evidence presented at trial as to his guilt and that he be acquitted on all counts.
Rev. Abduraheem has been detained for over a year as the result of an act of kindness he bestowed on a young boy in need of medical attention. In November 2015, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and Rev. Kuwa Shamal attended a Christian conference in Addis Ababa, Ethopia where Rev. Abduraheem was a speaker. During his speech, Rev. Abduraheem showed the audience a picture of a young man who had been badly beaten for attending a demonstration, and explained that he was helping pay for his medical treatment.
In December 2015, Sudan’s National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) arrested the pastors on national security charges associated with helping the injured man. Rev. Abduraheem was held in a NISS detention center until he was transferred to the custody of the Attorney General on May 9, 2016. He is currently being held in al-Huda Prison in Omdurman.
Rev. Abduraheem is now on trial facing the death penalty because he tried to live out his Christian faith through charity. He has been charged under Sudan’s Penal Code of 1991, with charges ranging from waging war against the state and espionage to agitating hatred between classes.
Sending the letter on behalf of more than 100,571 individuals concerned with international human rights and religious freedom, we also laid out the numerous international treaties and obligations that require Sudan to free Pastor Hassan:
Under international treaties to which Sudan is a signatory, the Sudanese government has an obligation to allow for peaceful freedom of expression and belief and to treat its citizens with basic human dignity. According to the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States pledge themselves to “promote . . . universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to [inter alia] religion.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection under the law.” Specifically, “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” The ICCPR provides even stronger provisions: “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference,” and “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.” Such rights necessarily include the right to hold religious opinions, to obtain and disseminate information, and to live out one’s faith. This right is also articulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Articles 2, 3, and 8.
We are preparing to send other letters to Sudan’s Vice-President, among others. Justice for Pastor Hassan will be determined in the next few weeks. Sign our petitions to join these critical legal letters, and demand Pastor Hassan’s freedom.
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