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Rights Groups Slam Death-by-stoning Sentence for Sudanese Woman

ICC Note

Sudan is about to stone a woman after a court found her guilty of adultery. The man who was accused of engaging in adultery with the woman has been freed. The Islamic law is the reason for persecution of Christians, women and other vulnerable groups in Sudan.

06/01/2012 Sudan (The Los Angles Times)-Human rights groups have called for Sudan to abolish death by stoning as prescribed legal punishment after a young woman convicted of adultery was ordered executed by a Sudanese court.

The woman, Intisar Sharif Abdallah, who is married, give birth five months ago and is currently behind held, with her baby, outside Khartoum, according to Human Rights Watch.

“No one should be stoned to death, and imposing this punishment on someone who may be a child is especially shocking,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

Abdallah’s age has not been verified, although Sudanese rights groups suggest she may be under the age of 18. Under Sudanese law, a minor cannot be sentenced to death, and a defendant is entitled to a lawyer in court.

A statement by Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), a women’s rights group following the case, said Abdallah admitted guilt after she was beaten and tortured by her brother, who instigated the case against her. The conviction is based solely on her admission under duress, according to rights groups.

The organization quoted Abdallah’s lawyer as saying that she initially pleaded innocent, but changed her plea. Although Sudanese legal authorities have given her age as 20, SIHA said she is between 15 and 17.

SIHA said after she initially denied the charge the case was thrown out of court. She was then repeatedly beaten and tortured by her brother, confessed to adultery and was returned to court where she was convicted.

“She is understood to be deeply traumatized and is without access to suitable psycho-social support. Her newborn child is also with her in prison whilst she is shackled at the ankles, struggling to nurse him. Her co-accused, having maintained his denial of adultery, has therefore not been charged and now walks free,” the SIHA statement said, adding that her lawyer was only allowed to see her after she had been convicted and sentenced to death.

“Abdallah did not even receive the benefit of protections in Sudan’s own laws,” said Bekele, of Human Rights Watch. “Authorities should drop the charges and free her immediately.”

Amnesty International issued an urgent request for people to send letters to Sudanese authorities before July 6, calling for the execution to be halted.

“The court relied solely on her coerced confession to convict and sentence her in a single court session, while the man alleged to have committed adultery with her denied the charges and was released,” a lawyer working with SIHA told Human Rights Watch, Bekele said.

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