Sudan: does it care a damn?

The highest court in the United States has just heard argument in a case that could have far-reaching implications for Sudan and perhaps for other countries said to be sponsoring terrorism. It concerns amendments to a key piece of US legislation and whether these amendments could apply retroactively, in this case to Sudan. That state has withdrawn from the litigation, refusing to participate in any way.

Courts and court documents usually epitomise conservative, formal language. Even advocates of simple English find it difficult to persuade some courts and lawyers to dump unnecessary legalisms so that ordinary people can read and understand decisions and related documents. Argument in court by counsel tends to follow the same rule: ‘clean’ language, usually conservative rather than conversational.

But now and then there’s an exception.


Spy-thriller fizzles as Ugandan court acquits suspect

Official security networks in Uganda and neighbouring Sudan were set buzzing in 2013 when a Sudanese diplomat was expelled from Uganda. Shortly afterwards the story broke of the arrest of a Ugandan clerk in his country’s foreign intelligence agency, the External Security Organisation. Stephen Kisembo, a staffer of the ESO, had been found with secret documents, according to the story, and was to stand trial. He was alleged to have been delivering similar documents over several years to Sudanese diplomats, in a plan devised by the expelled envoy.

Read judgment

It made a great splash in the media when Ugandan civil servant Stephen Kisembo was arrested and charged with spying for Sudan. When the high court of Uganda acquitted him recently, however, not so much.

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