November 2, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – A police force took control of the Sudanese Bar Association (SBA) premises in Khartoum on Wednesday and prevented dozens of lawyers from entering the building.
On Tuesday, Islamist lawyers backed by armed men attacked the SBA office and sought to expel an elected steering committee and other members who were in a press conference.
The attempt took place after a decision restoring a dissolved lawyer committee loyal to the former regime by a Sovereign Council appeal committee.
Large numbers of lawyers gathered in front of the union’s premises in response to a call by the SBA Steering Committee to protect the office and defend it against an attack by “dark forces.”
Montasser Abdallah a member of the Steering Committee told Sudan Tribune that the police besiege the premises of the Bar Association and prevent large numbers of lawyers from entering to exercise their duties. Also, they refuse to bring water and food to dozens of protesters inside the building.
“What the police are doing is unlawful detention and contrary to human rights and freedoms,” Abdallah added.
He added that the Steering Committee prepares legal procedures to challenge the decisions of the Appeals Committee.
“These decisions contained formal, procedural and substantive flaws, mainly the membership of the committee, the date of submission of the application, as well as the end of the term of the former committee since December 2021,” he said.
“The former committee wants to take over the headquarters illegally. This is unacceptable, as its term ended a year ago and it is not entitled to claim legitimacy to represent the lawyers,” he stressed.
The pro-democracy lawyers consider the police’s closure of the Bar Association office as serving the goals of the supporters of the former regime who attempted several times in the past to attack the office.
Following the October 25, 2021 coup, the military rulers formed an appeal body to review the decisions of the suspended Empowerment Removal Committee (ERC) tasked with the dismantlement of the former regime.
This panel systematically cancelled the ERC decisions restoring all the Islamist personnel in the civil service and returning their assets and money.
The steering committee, last August, launched a constitutional initiative aiming to restore a civilian government to achieve transition in Sudan.
The Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) Volker Perthes on Wednesday condemned the attack against the SBA office.
“I strongly condemn the attack and any act of violence to settle political or legal disputes. The Steering Committee of the SBA, irrespective of its legal status, has played an important role in advocating for an inclusive discourse in the context of the current political process,” said Perthes.
“The attack against the office of the SBA is a clear signal sent against ongoing efforts to reach an acceptable consensus among political forces and the military towards a genuine democratic transition in Sudan,” he further stressed.