24 May 2012

Sudan: Human Rights Groups Condemn Woman's Stoning Sentence

Photo: Peter Martell/IRIN
Sudanese women in a market place (file photo) : The man she said she had a sexual relationship with has denied the charge and was therefore acquitted by the judge.

Khartoum — Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Sudanese authorities to stop the execution a women condemned to stoning for alleged adultery, and release her 'immediately and unconditionally'.

Intisar Sharif Abdallah was sentenced by Judge Sami Ibrahim Shabo at Ombada criminal court in Omdurman on 13 May on charges of adultery, under article 146 of Sudan's criminal code of 1991.

According to Amnesty International (AI), Intisar 'did not have access to a lawyer during her trial, and was convicted based on testimony she gave after being beaten by her brother.'

Intisar, who has three children, is being detained with her newborn baby and is suffering from psychological distress and does not understand the nature of her sentence, as she has a limited knowledge of Arabic, an AI report stated.

Her age is in dispute with some reports giving Intisar's age as either 16-17 years-old or 20 years-old. This is significant because if she is a minor corporal punishment is illegal under international law.

Also, AI state that, executing someone whose trial has not met international standards is a violation of the right to life, and is therefore illegal, as is the execution of nursing mothers.

The conviction is reported to have been based solely on a confession given after she was beaten by her brother, according to AI and other human rights groups.

AI, urged the government in a statement 'to have the best interests of Intisar Sharif Abdallah's child as their primary consideration during the judicial process and until she is released'.

Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of African (SIHA Network) released a statement on the case describing the judgment as 'problematic in multiple ways least of all for the application of one of the most brutal forms of corporal punishment. In addition, the judicial process has been explicitly violated whereby Intisar had no legal representation in court, doubts exist relating to her age and her admission was made following a period of torture and beatings by her brother. Stoning remains a complex process even within fundamental Islamic Sharia sects and it is shocking that the decision was been made so rapidly after a single court session.'

The judgment, according to the SIHA Network, 'demonstrates the scale of discrimination against women and girls in Sudan and the biased judgments made against them for acts which require two parties - a man and woman. It is incredulous that the man with whom she has been accused is able to walk free showing explicitly the strong anti-woman sentiment and harsh management of family disputes that exists within both the Sudanese judicial system and in society.'

SIHA has called on the Sudan Ministry of Justice and other relevant Sudanese government bodies to investigate Intisar's and overturn the judgment.

The women's rights group also called on the 'African Union, The Arab League the United Nations and all women/human rights organizations and the international community to intervene to stop this act of brutality.'

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InFocus

Sudan: Woman to be Stoned to Death for Adultery

Sudanese women in a market place (file photo) : The man she said she had a sexual relationship with has denied the charge and was therefore acquitted by the judge.

A local court, under Islamic Shariah laws, has sentenced a woman to be executed by stoning for committing adultery. Read more »