A group of Christians threatened with the death penalty for apostacy “were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment” while detained, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
CSW has called on the international community to raise this violation of rights with Sudan, after the four men were accused of breaking a law which had previously been repealed.
Sudan experienced a military coup in October 2021, overthrowing a civilian- led transitional period.
One of the changes the civilian-led government had brought in was to abolish the death penalty for the crime of apostasy, which is abandoning your faith for another faith (in this case, Christianity).
The government then made it a criminal offence to accuse anyone of apostasy.
However, apostacy charges appear to have been brought back in, leading to the arrest and charges of Badar Haroun Abdul-Jabbar, Mohamed Haroun Abdul-Jabbar, Tariq Aref Abdallah and Mortada Ismael Yousef in Darfur, which is in Western Sudan.
The Sudanese friends, part of a church sanctioned by the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments, were asked to renounce Christianity and agree not to pray, share their faith or in any way show they were Christians, or face the death penalty.
Bravely, they refused.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said CSW is “deeply concerned” about the situation.
He added: “It is indicative of the regressive steps taken on freedom of religion or belief, and emblematic of the worsening situation of human rights in Sudan in the aftermath of the coup. We call for an immediate review of this case and the dropping of all charges against the men. Additionally, action must be taken against law enforcement and prosecutors in Central Darfur, who have violated the rights of these men. The international community must ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief are raised with the military directly and that detailed benchmarks on freedom of religion or belief are included in all dialogues with Sudan.”