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Reporter on trial for "dressing in a sensational manner"

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 11 July 2009 - ANHRI expresses deep concern over the trial of opposition reporter Lubna Ahmed Al-Hussein, who has been accused of "dressing in a sensational manner." The "general discipline" police considered Al-Hussein's style of dress to be a threat to Sudanese societal values and virtues. This crime is subject to only one punishment, 40 lashes in public, according to article 152 of the Sudanese criminal law of 1991.

For years Al-Hussein has been writing her famous "Men Talk" column in Sudanese papers, in which she has bitterly criticised government practices and bravely confronted fundamentalists.

ANHRI's programme manager, Abeer Soliman, commented that accusations such as those which are being leveled against Al-Hussein are a cheap way to undermine a brave reporter and only oppressive governments would stoop so low. Soliman added that the Sudanese government should be as brave as Al-Hussein and declare its opposition to her writings instead of using this brutal tactic with the aim of silencing her.

The Sudanese general discipline law is one of the most discriminatory laws against women as it violates basic freedoms which should be enjoyed by all citizens. The law targets female students and working women, appearing to have been tailored to persecute, humiliate and isolate them in an attempt to prevent them from contributing to public life. The Sudanese police are now using this law against an opposition reporter.

AHNRI calls on all human rights NGOs concerned about freedom of expression and women's rights to support Al-Hussein and make efforts to stop this charade of a trial. The trial violates every international treaty defending freedom of expression and women's rights and makes clear the fact that the Sudanese government persecutes those who oppose it and is willing to use the worst laws and practices it has at its disposal.

ANHRI praises Al-Hussein's boldness as she has printed invitation cards to her trial and sent them to all media and press organisations. If convicted, she intends to send similar invitations, encouraging the media to attend her public whipping.

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