Ambassador David Saperstein's Visit to Sudan

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 14, 2015

From August 2-10, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein traveled to Khartoum to discuss religious freedom with government officials, religious leaders, and civil society representatives.

In meetings with Sudanese Government officials, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Guidance and Endowment and Members of Parliament, Ambassador Saperstein sought insight on the key challenges to religious freedom. The Ambassador stressed the importance of freedom of religion and encouraged the government to end its unequal treatment of religious minorities and bring its national laws and practices in line with the country’s national constitution and international human rights obligations. In his meetings with civil society and religious groups, including with the Sudan Council of Churches, the Sudan Inter-Religious Council, and various representatives of Christian and Muslim groups reflecting a broad range of views, he sought recommendations on how the United States can best advocate for the rights of all Sudanese and, particularly for ethnic and religious minorities. The Ambassador also convened a roundtable with women representatives of different religious groups to hear the female perspective on the role of religion in Sudan.

An important element of the Ambassador’s trip was the opportunity to attend the verdict hearing of two South Sudanese pastors Yat Michael Ruot and David Yein Reith charged with a number of crimes, including inciting hatred among sects, espionage, and undermining the constitutional system – the latter two of which carried the death penalty if convicted. In media interviews on the day of the trial the Ambassador welcomed the court’s decision to acquit the pastors of the most serious charges against them and release them from prison. The Ambassador expressed his hopes that it reflects a growing determination to remedy significant restrictions on religious and other freedoms in Sudan. Ambassador Saperstein remains disappointed, though, that the pastors have been unable to exit the country since their release from prison, and the United States remains concerned about the possibility of the Government of Sudan to appeal to the court’s initial verdict.

Alongside well-known Sudanese-American Islamic Scholar Imam Mohamed Magid, Ambassador Saperstein met with youth during the Afro-Arab Youth Council Session on Countering Violent Extremism to discuss the challenges and opportunities for de-radicalization of extremist ideologies in Sudan.

Follow Ambassador Saperstein on Twitter: @AmbSaperstein. For updates on the U.S. Government’s human rights work, visit or the DRL Twitter account, @State_DRL. For reporter inquiries, please contact Chanan Weissman at 202-647-4043 or