Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of a Sudanese mother of six, teacher and activist, Jalila Khamis Koko arrested March last year over a YouTube video by the Sudanese National Security Service.
Koko was arrested and charged with several counts of crime against the state, including undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state. The only evidence brought against her by the NSS consisted of the YouTube video.
The video which appeared in June 2011, showed Koko denouncing conditions in the conflict-affected area of Southern Kordofan and called for a cease-fire.
Now detained for nine months, Amnesty International sees the harassment nationals go through.
According to Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa program director,“The charges that the Sudanese National Security Service (NSS) has brought against Jalila are completely unfounded. They are typical of the systematic harassment and intimidation of human rights activists that characterise security service operations.”
Gaughran adds, “Amnesty International believes that Jalila Khamis Koko is being detained because of her humanitarian work and the peaceful expression of her views.”
Koko, a mother of six and a member of the Nuba ethnic group from Southern Kordofan, has been in detention for nine months during which time her health has deteriorated and she is currently suffering from high blood pressure due to stress.
Prior to her arrest in March 2012 Khamis Koko had been volunteering to provide humanitarian support to people who had fled their homes in Southern Kordofan – a region affected by internal conflict between the government and opposition fighters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – North, the armed wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N).
On Monday the Khartoum North Criminal Court dropped some of the charges against Khamis Koko – including two that carried the death penalty – because it found that the NSS failed to provide adequate evidence.
“The fact that some of the charges against Jalila have already been dropped due to lack of evidence is a positive step,” said Gaughran. “We must hope that justice prevails at her court appearance tomorrow and all the remaining charges are dropped and she is released.”
Khamis Koko, a member of the banned opposition party the SPLM-N, will appear in court tomorrow facing two charges: ‘calling for opposition to public authority by use of violence or criminal force’ and ‘provoking hatred against or between sects’.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and a fine.
In a recent public statement Amnesty International documented how Sudanese security forces and military intelligence have carried out a campaign of arrests, targeting individuals suspected of being members of the SPLM–N or their relatives, seemingly on the basis of their ethnicity. Many of them were from the Nuba ethnic group in Southern Kordofan. The organization recorded that over 90 people, including 32 women, were arrested in Kadugli and Dilling in November 2012.
Arbitrary arrest of peaceful activists or of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity violates international law, as does prolonged administrative detention.
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