“A number of the homes are rented to members of church and clergy, who previously faced legal challenges to evict them during the al Bashir regime,” the human rights and charity entity reports, and adds, “It is suspected that individuals who sit on an illegitimate government-constituted committee are working together with government officials and investors to seize the land.”
In Sudan, church committees recognized by the Ministry of Guidance and Endowments, which oversees religious affairs, are legally empowered to control affairs of churches.
CSW reports that during the al Bashir era, the government abused this provision “in order to retain significant control over the internal processes of churches, and to further restrict the rights of Christians.”
According to the UK-based human rights foundation, interference in church affairs was commonplace and was primarily undertaken by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) officers, who pitted Christians against each other.
“The government would subsequently claim that disputes such as those concerning different committees were an internal church matter that did not involve the state,” CSW reports.
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The foundation further reports that during the transitional period in Sudan, some important steps were taken to improve the protection of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).
CSW notes that while slow to address the issues of church interference, Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Endowments reached an agreement with the legitimate administrative committee of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church for administrative control over the church’s affairs, adding, “However, in November 2021 a judge dismissed this agreement.”
The dismissal, CSW reports, came shortly after the military coup of 25 October 2021, and the steady rise in influence of the National Congress Party (NCP), the party of former president Omar al Bashir.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.