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Agencies demand end to travel ban on two South Sudanese priests

14 August 2015

JOZEF TÓTH/COMMONS

Enforced stay: Khartoum International Airport

Enforced stay: Khartoum International Airport

TWO South Sudanese pastors freed from prison last week (News, 7 August) have been prevented from leaving Sudan.

Yat Michael and Peter Reith were stopped at Khartoum Airport last Thursday, and told that a travel ban issued against them was still in force. It had been imposed by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports.

On Monday, lawyers representing them met the NISS to try to secure a lifting of the ban.

The pastors were freed last week, after spending several months in jail, charged with multiple offences including undermining the constitutional system, espionage, promoting hatred among sects, breach of public peace, and crimes relating to insulting religious beliefs (News, 29 May). Mr Michael was convicted of inciting hatred, and Mr Reith of breaching public peace. Both were released on the basis of time already served.

The chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Mervyn Thomas, said: “It is deeply concerning that the travel ban was imposed by a paramilitary body with unfettered powers of arrest and detention. Particularly worrying is the fact that the NISS’s functions and processes are not subject to judicial review.”

He fears the ban “may herald a new phase in the mistreatment of Reverends Michael and Reith, who instead of being held in prison are now being detained in Sudan against their will.”

CSW is calling for “urgent interventions with the Sudanese presidency from members of the international community . . . to ensure the travel ban is lifted and the pastors and their families can leave the country and resume their lives.”

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