According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), lawyers for pastors Yat Michael and Peter Yen have launched a fresh appeal against a travel ban imposed on the pastors after being informed that the prosecution issued the travel ban but did not file it properly with the court.
There were concerns that the ban had been imposed by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).
The South Sudanese clergymen’s lawyers were told on Sunday that the courts were unable to hear a petition against the travel ban and met with the NISS on Monday in an effort to secure a lifting of the ban, according to CSW.
The lawyers were subsequently informed that the prosecution did in fact issue the travel ban, but that there was no record of it in the court’s file. They have appealed to the attorney general but will only receive a decision once the court has made its ruling.
One of the lawyers was optimistic that the pastors will be able to leave the country in a few days. A relative of one of the pastors added: “We are working now with their lawyers and your prayers are very much needed.”
The two South Sudanese pastors were freed by Ahmed Ghaboush, the Judge of Khartoum North Central Court a week ago. Had they been found guilty, the pastors could have faced the death penalty.
Michael had taken his child to Khartoum for medical treatment when he was arrested on Dec. 14, 2014 after preaching at a local church during his stay in Sudan. Yen was arrested in January 2015 when he went to inquire about Michael’s whereabouts. The two men were then reported as missing until Sudanese authorities revealed that they were being held in prison for “crimes against the state.”
In a similar situation over a year ago, Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was pregnant and sentenced to death for not recanting her faith, was freed but then was forced to spend weeks in the U.S. embassy after her release from prison.
Sudan is ranked #6 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. Islam is well rooted in the Sudanese society. The overwhelming majority of the population in Sudan is Sunni Muslim, and Sharia law is the foundation of Sudan’s legal system. The regime is authoritarian and wants to control all aspects of the lives of its citizens.
Blasphemy laws are used country-wide to persecute and prosecute Christians. The arrest, incarceration and extended trial of pastors Michael and Yen illustrate the pressure Christians face in this region.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.