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(11 July 2012) On 10 July 2012, Judge Imad Shamoun sitting at Al Nasir Criminal Court in Khartoum sentenced a 23 year old woman to death by stoning for adultery (Zina) under Article 146 of the Sudanese Penal Code 1991.
Ms. L.I.E (case number 1222), who resides in Alizba area of Khartoum Bahri and is from the Misseriya tribe, pleaded guilty to the charges of adultery. She did not have any legal representation during the trial, in violation of Sudanese law. She is currently detained in a cell alone in shackles, giving rise to serious concerns about her welfare. It is not known when the authorities plan to carry the sentence out.
The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the Government of Sudan to overturn the sentence of death by stoning which was applied in violation of both domestic and international law and guarantee Ms. L.I.E’s immediate and unconditional release.
Under Article 135(3) of the Sudanese Criminal Procedure Code 1991, a defendant is entitled to legal representation in any criminal case that carries a punishment of 10 years or more imprisonment, amputation or death. Ms. L.I.E, who has reportedly been living apart from her husband for one and a half years, was sentenced under Article 146(1) (a) of the Sudanese Penal Code, which carries a punishment of execution by stoning for a defendant who is “muhsan”, meaning having a valid and persisting marriage at the time of the commission of adultery.
The application of the death penalty by stoning for the crime of adultery (zina) is a grave violation of international law, including the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Sudan is a State Party. Article 6 of the ICCPR stipulates that, “sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”. The majority of adultery cases in Sudan are issued against women, highlighting the discriminatory application of the legislation, in violation of constitutional and international law guarantees of equality before the law and non-discrimination based on sex.
ACJPS condemns the use of the death penalty in all cases. This case underscores the urgent need for the Government of Sudan to issue an immediate moratorium on all executions in Sudan with a view to abolishing the death penalty and to revise all legislation that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against women.