Darfur Consortium urges that due process be accorded detained Darfur negotiator

(NEW YORK, September 29, 2006) – In a statement issued in Kampala today, the Darfur Consortium expressed concern for the safety and personal security of Abulgasim Ahmed Abulgasim, a Darfurian expatriate who has been residing in Saudi Arabia for about 20 years. He was deported from Saudi Arabia late on Thursday night and is now reportedly in the custody of the Sudanese authorities.

Mr. Abulgasim, a political opponent of the Sudanese government, was a member of the negotiating team for the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), during the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja. He originates from Kutum area in North Darfur. It is understood that Mr. Abulgasim was arrested further to his participation in a public panel organised by the Sudanese Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, earlier this week on the implications of UN Security Council Resolution 1706 (2006). During this panel he is said to have expressed support for the decision of the UN body and the deployment of international troops to protect civilian populations in Darfur.

Human rights organisations have expressed grave concern that Mr. Abulgasim has been forcibly returned to Sudan and is now at risk of being subjected to ill-treatment, torture and incommunicado detention. 

The Darfur Consortium urges that the full protection of international human rights law, as provided for in Sudan’s law and Interim Constitution, be accorded to Mr. Abulgasim, in particular, the right to be advised of the reasons for his deportation and detention, and the nature of any charges against him. He must also be permitted to challenge the basis for his deportation and detention, and released if so ordered. In the immediate term Mr. Abulgasim must be permitted access to a lawyer of his choice, and to receive any medical attention which he requires.

The Darfur Consortium represents over forty Africa-based and Africa-focused civil society organisations working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.