27 May 2014

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death for Religious Beliefs Gives Birth in Prison

Photo: Gabriel Wani/Facebook
Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.

Khartoum — A 27-year-old Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to death for her religious views earlier this month has given birth to a baby girl in prison. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim's husband and legal team have reportedly been denied access to the new mum, who gave birth early Tuesday at Omdurman Women's Prison, where she is being held in custody with her 20-month-old son. Amnesty International said it had no information on her condition as yet.

Ibrahim was convicted of apostasy and adultery on 11 May, with a Khartoum court sentencing her to death by hanging at a later hearing on 15 May after she refused to recant her faith and return to Islam. She was also sentenced to 100 lashes for committing adultery as her 2012 marriage to husband Daniel Wani - a South Sudanese-born Christian man - is considered invalid under Sudan's Islamic Shari'a law.

Despite being heavily pregnant, reports emerged that Ibrahim has been constantly restrained in shackles in her cell since her sentencing, a practice commonly used on prisoners who have been sentenced to death.

It's expected that Ibrahim will be allowed to nurse her child for two years before the sentence is carried out.

Amnesty said Ibrahim's lawyers have confirmed that an appeal has been lodged against the conviction and have indicated that they are prepared to take the case to Sudan's Supreme Court and Constitutional Court if the appeal proves unsuccessful.

Ibrahim, who was raised in Eastern Sudan's Gedarif state, was born to an Ethiopian Christian mother and a Sudanese Muslim father, who was largely absent from her childhood.

She was arrested in 2013 after a relative reported her to authorities for adultery, with an additional charge of apostasy, which is defined as the act of renouncing one's religion, brought against her in February after she asserted that she was not a Muslim.

The sentence has sparked international condemnation, with US senators urging secretary of state John Kerry to personally intervene on Ibrahim's behalf and offer her political asylum. The UK government, meanwhile, has labelled the sentence "barbaric", while UN human rights experts described the conviction as "outrageous", saying the right to marry and start a family was a fundamental human right.

There has also been an outpouring of public sympathy for Ibrahim's plight, with more than 660,000 people signing a petition by Amnesty International calling for her immediate release. Amnesty says treating adultery and apostasy as criminal offences is inconsistent with international human rights law.

Sudan's population is predominantly Muslim, but there is a Christian minority, particularly in the southern region. While executions for apostasy are rare, many people have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned after recanting their faith.

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InFocus

Sudanese Woman On Death Row Gives Birth

Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.

The Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to death for alleged apostasy, has given birth to a baby girl in prison. Read more »