Death by stoning turned into harsh prison sentence in Sudan: Free Amal!

FIDH / @julienmage

December 16, 2022. In October 2022, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partners call on Sudanese authorities to overturn the sentence of Amal, a young woman sentenced to the death penalty by stoning for the crime of adultery. The Sudanese Court of Appeal decided to overturn the 20 years old Sudanese woman’s sentence to death by stoning on procedural grounds. The State Court sentenced Amal to six months imprisonment. Amal has already spent five months in detention. Sudanese authorities must grant her immediate and unconditional release.

Amal’s [1] excruciating struggle continues. The 20-year-old woman has been sentenced to six months imprisonment during her retrial. The State Court issued this new ruling after Sudanese Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn her original sentence to death by stoning due to procedural irregularities. This new sentence was handed down on the basis of Article 151 of the Sudanese Criminal Law, which criminalises "gross indecency", an offense that can be met with up to one year in prison and lashes. Sudan is known for its dire prison conditions. Sudanese organisations including Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) have highlighted their concerns of ill treatment, torture and incommunicado detention in Sudan.

Amal’s lawyer has appealed this judgment, which was pronounced in addition to the five months she already spent in detention. Although based on different grounds, this new conviction and sentence put Amal at great risk of severe ill-treatment leading to grave violations of her fundamental rights, including due process rights. If the appeal is unsuccessful, a harsher sentence could be imposed and have terrifying consequences by further aggravating the risk of human rights violations. FIDH is concerned about her conditions in detention, whether she has access to a doctor, family and lawyer visits, and if her human dignity is respected.

"We are relieved that the sentence of death by stoning has been overturned. However, we shall continue to denounce this form of punishment which clearly shows the discriminatory nature of the Sudanese criminal code."

Alice Mogwe, FIDH’s President.

A criminal case prompted by discriminatory charges

Amal’s case is emblematic of the risks Sudanese women face in their country. Her original death sentence for adultery had been overturned but the Court of Appeal didn’t question the mere concept of death penalty by stoning in Sudan, which is still permitted under the 2019 Sudanese Constitutional Declaration. Her sentence sparked a global citizen mobilisation backed by 1,114,567 people around the world, and brought international attention to the case.

Our organisations, as well as the signatories, condemn the use of the death penalty in all cases and urge the Sudanese authorities to:
- guarantee Amal’s immediate and unconditional release;
- ensure that Amal receives adequate medical care and psychosocial support for any harms suffered during her past and current detentions;
- revise all legislation that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against women;
- prioritise legal and institutional reforms, including by undertaking the comprehensive legal mapping necessary to amend Sudan’s laws to ensure the absolute prohibition of torture, including judicial corporal punishment.

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