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VNC and WLUML condemn the shutdown of Sudan’s Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre
The Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Solidarity Network and the Violence is Not our Culture Campaign strongly condemn the revocation of the registration licence of it partner in Sudan, the Salmmah Resource Centre without prior notice and due process.
On 24 June 2014, a decree signed and stamped by the Sudanese Ministry revoking its registration license as a non-profit company, its immediate liquidation, and the appointment of a five-person committee to oversee the Company’s dissolution process was presented to the director of the Salmmah Women's Resource Centre, Ms. Fahima Hashim. All properties found in possession of the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre including personal belongings of its staff were taken. The decree failed to mention any reason behind this decision. Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre is registered as a non-profit Company, in accordance with the Sudanese Companies Act of 1925 which gives the Minister of Justice the sole power to close down any company deemed harmful to the interests of the country.
We condemn the disregard of due legal process and procedures that accompanied this action by the authorities against the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre. This represents a clear violation of the right of civil society to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of association, and their right to establish associations and of Article 27-4 of the Interim Constitution of 2005, which prohibits any infringement of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
We are concerned that this action by the Sudanese authorities against the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre will signal a new chapter of political repression against civil society in Sudan characterised by harassing and obstructing the work of independent organisations that promote human rights and democratic values.
The Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre was founded in 1997 as an independent feminist resource centre with expertise in the areas of gender equality and women’s rights. Its main focus is mobilizing and empowering women and women’s groups in order to influence policy and overcome structural, political and legal obstacles to the advancement of women’s rights. The centre also has a leading role in the research, documentation and dissemination of knowledge on women’s rights and human rights in Sudan. WLUML and the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre enjoy a long-standing partnership working collaboratively on various projects which include the advocacy to reform rape laws, and the Sudan’s Revised Penal Code which is being used as the basis to justify the sentencing of women to cruel forms of punishments such as stoning; the campaign to stop the practice of child marriage, and in challenging Sudan’s restrictive dress code.
We express our solidarity with our sisters and brothers at the Salmmah Women’s Resource Center and will continue to support their work and their struggle for their legitimate right to exist as one of the highly respected voices in Sudan’s fragile civil society.
We urge the Government of Sudan to restore the legitimate status of Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre as a registered non-profit company and to return all confiscated equipment and property so they could resume their invaluable work.
We urge the international community particularly the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to immediately intervene and act on behalf of the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre and to seek commitment from the government of Sudan to guarantee that there will be no reprisals against the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre and its local supporters.
27 June 2014