Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Thursday and assurances were made that the country that is ranked sixth-worst in the world for Christian persecution is working to improve liberty and human rights.
Hamdok, who was appointed in August, visited Washington, D.C. this week months after a coup d’état upended the leadership of dictator Omar al-Bashir and paved the way for a transitional government.
Hamdock’s visit marked the first time that the leader of the Sudanese government has visited Washington in three decades. Sudan has been listed for several years on the State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern” that engage in or tolerate “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
During his trip, the minister and other Sudanese officials met with commissioners from the congressionally-mandated commission responsible for making recommendations to the U.S. State Department regarding religious freedom worldwide.
USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore told The Christian Post that commissioners were informed of a number of plans to improve the condition of religious liberty in Sudan, which ranks near the top of Open Doors USA’s list of top-50 countries where Christians are most persecuted.
Sudan in recent years has come under much international scrutiny for confiscating church property and other religious freedom and human rights abuses, including the sentencing of Christian mother Mariam Ibrahim to death in 2014 for the crime of apostasy.
One of the hopes expressed by officials in the meeting, Moore said, was to change the apostasy and blasphemy laws in Sudan’s Criminal Code in the next eight weeks.
Sudan finalized a Constitutional Declaration earlier this year for the transitional period. It no longer references Islam as the primary source of law, Moore said.
Additionally, Sudan reportedly repealed a public order law that gave security forces broad authority to enforce religious-based moral teachings, such as women being harassed for “inappropriate dress.”
Sudan is said to have also held several workshops related to religious freedom and legislative reform, the commissioners were told.
“If the Sudan continues on the path they’ve started, and according to the very clear plan they elicited to us today, then they have the potential of becoming the nation most astonishingly transformed in the shortest period of time,” Moore wrote in an email.
“Don’t get me wrong — there’s a ton of work that needs to be done, but the people we met with today know what needs to get done, they know how to do it, and they have made meaningful progress, already.”
According to Moore, USCIRF commissioners were also assured that the government plans to publish new laws and procedures for houses of worship. The transitional government is said to have met with evangelical leaders of specific cases of church property disputes.
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Source: Christian Post