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Sudan

Christian businessman prevented from leaving the country

3 Feb 2020

Sudanese Christian businessman Ashraf Samir Mousad Obid was informed by Sudan’s Ministry of the Interior on 30 January that he is not allowed to leave or enter the country. Mr Obid had been detained at Khartoum airport three days earlier as he re-entered the country for the first time since 2015, when he went into exile following a campaign of harassment by the security services.

Mr Obid has also been informed that he is currently on bail, and that he was detained because he is on a General Intelligence Service (GIS) watch list. The GIS replaced Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) following the overthrow of President al-Bashir and the creation of a transitional government in August 2019. Worryingly, it would appear that despite changes in the Sudanese administration, the case against Mr Obid is continuing.

The original NISS case was brought against Mr Obid in 2015 after he sold land to a Baptist Church. While in NISS detention, Mr Obid was forced to sign a letter handing over 2,000 hectares of land to the agency. He subsequently fled the country.

On 27 January Mr Obid was detained at Khartoum Airport as he returned from exile despite the GIS’s assurances that all names previously placed on the NISS travel restriction list had been removed.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “The significant political changes that took place in Sudan in 2019 appeared to indicate that all those previously targeted by the al Bashir regime for political reasons were free to return.  However, Mr Obid’s treatment is a worrying sign that security sector reforms still have some way to go to ensure that changes are not merely cosmetic. His treatment by the GIS has an ominous resemblance to the methods and practices of the notorious NISS. We call on the government of Sudan to ensure that the new security service is prevented from carrying out the severe violations of human rights of its predecessor, and urge the international community to raise this case with Sudan at every opportunity.”

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