Human Rights Watch criticises Sudan's special courts

Other News Materials 6 August 2008 12:48 (UTC +04:00)

The civil rights group Human Rights Watch sharply criticised Wednesday the use of special courts in the Sudan, saying they were a "charade" and fell short of "even minimal fair trial standards."

In a statement, HRW called attention to the special courts which were set up to combat rebels, and which at the end of July sentenced 30 persons to death, reported dpa.

"The special courts set up by Sudan to try alleged rebels who attacked Khartoum are a charade," said Georgette Gagnon, HRW's director for Africa.

"The special courts don't meet even minimal fair trial standards, and yet they have the power to sentence people to death," she added.

The special courts were established in mid-June, with the expressed purpose of handing out just to Darfour rebels who took part in an attack on a Khartoum suburb in May.

In the aftermath, hundreds of people were arrested, with human rights groups complaining about the arbitrary methods. There is no information on the whereabouts of most of those detained, who largely derive from Darfour.

HRW said the suspects have only limited access to lawyers, and that admissions of guilt were obtained by torture. The suspects also are not allowed to see the evidence being used against them.