Authorities in Sudan have held two church leaders incommunicado for almost four months yet no official charges have been filed against them, reports the World Watch Monitor.

The news organisation reports that Telahoon Nogosi Kassa Rata, a leader of Khartoum North (Bahri) Evangelical Church, and Rev Hassan Abduraheem Kodi Taour, of the Sudan Church of Christ (SCC), continue to be detained despite a law which says detained individuals should either be presented before court or released 45 days after their arrest.

Rata, who was arrested on 14th December, was initially believed to have been arrested be “on religious charges”, but World Watch Monitor says sources close to the case have hinted the Christian activist is now being investigated for espionage, a charge Sudan has eventually resorted to before, after prolonged detentions of Christians. Rev Taour, meanwhile, has been held in an undisclosed place since his arrest on 19 December by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Meanwhile, World Watch Monitor reports that Sudanese authorities have also recently increased the number of church leaders who must report every day to its security services. They include Rev Kuwa Shamal, head of a SCC church committee, SCC pastors Ayub Tilyab and Yagoub Naway, Rev Philemon Hassan, and Rev Yamani Abraha of Khartoum El Izba Baptist Church.

Kamal Fahmi, a Sudanese religious freedom activist, told World Watch Monitor that the prolonged reporting requirement, together with seizure of vital equipment during “security raids”, placed an undue burden on church activities.

“The government of Sudan continues to intimidate and harass Christians and tries to make it difficult for them to practise their faith, and stop their ministries in their communities,” said Fahmi, who heads an advocacy website, ‘Set My People Free’, highlighting instances of pressure faced by Christians in Muslim-majority communities.

- with World Watch Monitor