Female teacher facing the death penalty because of her humanitarian work
Posted: 17 December 2012
A Sudanese teacher and activist is facing the death penalty because of her humanitarian work and the peaceful expression of her views, and should be released immediately, Amnesty International said today.
Jalila Khamis Koko was charged with five criminal counts on 13 December, two of which carry the death penalty. She is a member of the opposition party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) and has been detained, without charge, for the last nine months.
Prior to her arrest Jalila Khamis Koko was volunteering to provide humanitarian support to internally displaced people from Southern Kordofan. In June 2011, Khamis Koko appeared in a YouTube video in which she denounced the conditions in conflict-affected areas of Southern Kordofan and called for a ceasefire.
On 15 September she was summoned by the prosecutor in charge of crimes against the state and by the Khartoum Criminal Court. Two of the charges she faces “undermining the constitutional system” and “waging war against the state” fall under the category of crimes against the state and carry the death penalty.
The others relate to “participation in the execution of a criminal conspiracy”, “exciting hatred against sects or between them” and “publication of false news”. Her next court date is scheduled for tomorrow.
Amnesty International Africa Director Audrey Gaughran said:
“Amnesty International believes that Jalila Khamis Koko is being detained because of her humanitarian work and her peaceful expression of her views. She should be released immediately and unconditionally.
“Jalila Khamis Koko’s detention appears to be part of a pattern of harassment and detention of activists from the Nuba Mountains and members of the SPLM-N - this needs to stop immediately.”
Jalila Khamis Koko is a member of the Nuba ethnic group from Southern Kordofan. She was first arrested on 15 March by agents of the National Security Services and spent the first three months of her detention in solitary confinement. She was later transferred to the Omdurman prison in Khartoum, where she has been detained ever since.
During her confinement her health has deteriorated and she is currently suffering from high blood pressure due to stress.
Amnesty is urging the authorities to drop all charges against Khamis Koko, to ensure that she is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and to allow access to her lawyers and family.
Amnesty recently reported that the Sudanese security forces and military intelligence have carried out a campaign of arrests targeting people from the Nuba ethnic group in Southern Kordofan. Amnesty documented the arrests of over 90 people, including 32 women, in Kadugli and Dilling in November.
The arbitrary arrest of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity violates international law. So too does arbitrary detention, when detainees are not brought before a court or allowed access to legal representation or to their families.