Africa: U.S. Seeks Paternity Proof for Children of Sudanese Woman On Death Row

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

Washington — The United States appeared to suggest today that it has yet to establish that the children of a Sudanese women sentenced to death on apostasy charges are American citizens.

A handout picture from the family taken on May 28, 2014 shows Daniel Wani, a US citizen originally from South Sudan, at the prison in Omdurman (AFP)

"To transmit U.S. citizenship to a child born abroad there must be, among other requirements, a biological relationship between the child and a U.S. citizen, a parent or parents. U.S. regulation authorizes the Department to request whatever additional evidence it may need to establish the U.S. citizenship. Genetic testing is a useful tool for verifying a biological relationship," US State Department Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday in response to a question on whether they asked for DNA testing from the American husband.

A Khartoum court sentenced 27-year-old Meriam Yehya Ibrahim to death by hanging for apostasy after she refused to recant her faith and revert to Islam.

The court convicted Ibrahim, who is in custody with her 20-month-old son and her newborn baby girl, of the charges on May 11th and gave her three days to return to Islam.

Her case is now pending appeal filed by her lawyers and in accordance with Sudanese constitution, the capital punishment cannot be carried out for two years since she is a breastfeeding mom.

Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani is a US citizen and that would therefore entitle his children to automatic US citizenship.

But Wani was reportedly asked to undergo DNA testing that would prove his paternity to the two children.

The US official refused to answer a question on whether that means information previously provided by Wani did not meet the threshold required by Immigration and Nationality Act.

According to the US State Department website, "DNA testing is the only biological testing method currently accepted by the Department to establish a biological relationship".

"However, due to the expense, complexity, and logistical delays inherent in parentage testing, genetic testing generally should be used only in the absence of sufficient other evidence (documentation, photos, etc.) establishing the relationship".

"When genetic testing appears warranted, a U.S. Consular Officer at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad may suggest passport or CRBA [Consular Report of Birth Abroad] applicants undergo DNA testing to establish the validity of the relationship(s). Please note that such testing is entirely voluntary and that all costs of testing and related expenses must be borne by the applicant and paid to the laboratory in advance. In addition, submitting to testing does not guarantee the subsequent issuance of a passport or CRBA".

Psaki said that they have been in touch with Wani since June 2013 when the trial started.

"Embassy officials most recently met with him on June 2nd, so that is today. And one of our top priorities, as all of you know, is the protection of U.S. citizens overseas, and our continued engagement with him and efforts to assist him as a U.S. citizen are indicative of that commitment," she said.

She emphasized that US Secretary of State John Kerry is "gravely concerned" about this case.

The US said last week that is closely working to convince Khartoum to release Ibrahim.

"Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case," State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote FoxNews.com in an email.

"We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim's] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan" Thompson said.

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InFocus

Sudan Denies Re-Arresting Freed Woman

Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani.

A court in Sudan has ordered the release of Meriam Ibrahim who was sentenced to death for allegedly renouncing her Muslim faith and converting to Christianity. Read more »