Sudan: Urgent action - 20 year old Intisar Sharif Abdulla sentenced to death by stoning
On April 22nd 2012, Judge Sami Ibrahim Shabo sentenced Intisar Sharif Abdulla, 20, a Nuba Muslim woman from South Kordofan, Sudan, to death by stoning. She was accused of having a relationship and becoming pregnant by a man who was not her husband.
Initially, Intisar and her co-accused pleaded not guilty, however, after reportedly being beaten by her own brother, she later “admitted” to the charges. It was upon “admission of guilt” that she was taken to court, tried in the absence of either legal representation or translation due to her limited Arabic, and convicted and sentenced to death by stoning. Intisar’s indictment has come in accordance with Article 146 of the 1991 penal code; however, her verdict violates both Sudan’s constitution and international standards of due process.
Intisar is a mother of three, and is currently being detained in prison with her four-month old baby who she is still nursing. This defies domestic legislation in Sudan that safeguards nursing mothers for up to two years after giving birth. Now, as her co-accused walks free, Intisar awaits her conviction.
The legal team brought together on her behalf has recently logged an appeal against the judgment, and although this appeal is still being processed, Intisar ostensibly remains at risk of being stoned and in very real terms, her life is still on the line. She remains on death row and as a result is chained around the ankles, restricting both her movement and her ability to care for her infant. The conditions that she has been subjected to are harsh and inhumane, and reveal yet another human rights calamity unfolding in Sudan.
The decision to stone to death a nursing mother demonstrates the callous sanctioning of death for committing sexual relations outside marriage, while also illustrating the magnitude of gender inequality and discriminatory norms in Sudan, especially with respect to the asymmetric application of the law to her and her co-accused. The extreme sentence of stoning, so rarely applied, may also reflect the current tensions that exist between Khartoum and the South Kordofan region. Moreover the lack of due process in her case reflects a weak and poorly applied judicial system lacking in both consistency and capacity.
SIHA condemns the judgment and the overarching legislative process that has been applied and is calling for the Sudanese government to repeal the decision and to release Intisar both immediately and unconditionally.
We are asking people to write to the Sudanese embassy in their home countries as well as to the Ministry of Justice in Sudan to raise this issue and create pressure for the Government of Sudan to repeal this decision.
Through united action we can look to change the plight of Intisar.