Sudan: Flogging of 16-year-old girl suspended, cruel punishments continue

Intisar Bakri Abdulgader, who lives with her family in a suburb of the capital Khartoum, was to receive 100 lashes tomorrow (Friday 23) for the ‘crime’ of adultery. Human rights activists in Sudan and all over the world have petitioned the Sudanese authorities to stop the sentence being carried out.

Amnesty International said:

“We welcome the suspension of the sentence and now hope to see it commuted altogether very soon. Intisar should not have to live a day longer under the threat of this punishment.

“Cruel punishments are an everyday part of Sudan’s legal system, despite being in clear violation of Sudan’s obligations under international human rights law. Now is the time for the international community to support human rights campaigners in Sudan and turn up the pressure on the government of Sudan to stop these cruel punishments.”

Intisar gave birth to a boy, Dori, in September after becoming pregnant outside marriage. She was convicted of adultery and sentenced by a local court in the Khartoum suburb of Kalakla in July 2003 when she was seven months pregnant. The sentence was upheld by an appeal court in August. The alleged father of the child has reportedly not been charged but will have a blood test to establish paternity. Intisar is said to be terrified at the prospect of the punishment.

The Sudanese Penal Code, which is partly based on interpretation of Islamic legal doctrines, allows for penalties including flogging and amputations. Under article 146 of the Code, adultery is punishable by execution by stoning if the offender is married, or by one hundred lashes if the offender is not married.

Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse with a man without being lawfully bound to him. Although the penal codes are based on an interpretation of Islamic law people of all faiths in the north of Sudan are subject to them. Intisar’s family are Christians from the south of Sudan who fled to the north to escape fighting near their home.

Scores of people were sentenced to amputation or flogging in Sudan last year. Flogging is frequently carried out immediately after sentencing leaving no chance for appeal, even when there are concerns about whether a fair trial has been held.

Background

Amnesty International does not take a position on Islamic or any other religious law, but does consider penalties like flogging and amputation to be cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments which are inconsistent with Sudan's obligations under international human rights law (Sudan is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). Moreover, the flogging of a child contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Sudan is also a party.

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