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Sudan: Layla Ibrahim Issa - Another woman sentenced to death by stoning. Take action now!
UPDATE: Layla has been released!
The Court of Appeals handling Layla’s case has dropped the sentence of stoning, and changed the charge to “egregious acts”, for which it was determined Layla had spent enough time in prison. Our Sudanese networkers are still monitoring the situation, in order to ensure that the changed charges do not result in further violations of Layla’s rights, or those of her child.
For now, Layla Ibrahim Issa is free, and not facing any further prison time. We will continue to keep you posted on any developments for Layla, or other similar cases in Sudan.
We are grateful to everyone who took part in this action, and extend thanks on behalf of our Sudanese sisters as well, who believe the international advocacy by the diverse groups and individuals who joined to call to action had a huge and positive impact on the Court’s decision.
Thank you for your support! Together we do make a difference!
September 12, 2012
The international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and the Violence is Not our Culture (VNC) campaign are dismayed to receive another confirmed report of a woman – Layla Ibrahim Issa – who is about to be stoned in Sudan. This news comes shortly after the release of Intisar Sharif Abdallah, who was the first known case of a woman sentenced to stoning in Sudan last June.
Layla Ibrahim Issa, a 23-year old Sudanese woman, was sentenced to death by stoning on 10th July 2012 (Decision No. N/A/15/execution/2012) by Judge Imad Shamoun of the Mayo court in Khartoum, on charges of adultery under Article 146 of Sudan’s criminal code of 1991. She did not have access to a lawyer during her trial, and was convicted based on her confession. She is now detained in Omdurman Women’s Prison. It was reported that she is being detained in shackles, with her 6-month old baby.
The sentence is a clear violation of both the rights guaranteed to all Sudanese citizens by Sudan’s Constitution, as well as the international human rights standards to which Sudan is a party. International human rights law prohibits death sentences resulting from unfair trial. Article 14/3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which was signed, ratified and applied in the Sudan Constitution provided for a number of minimum guarantees on legal representation. Article 31/6 of the Sudan Constitution and the Article 135(3) of the Sudan Criminal Code 1991 guarantee the right of the accused to defend herself in person or through a lawyer of her choice. When she is unable to defend herself or obtain a private lawyer, she has the right to be provided with state legal aid in the case of crimes punishable by death.
Sudan is one of few countries where death by stoning remains legislated as a punishment in its Criminal Code. Stoning is an egregious abuse of human rights and in violation of Sudan’s international human rights commitments under the ICCPR. It constitutes a form of torture and is often accompanied by gender discrimination and unfair judicial processes. Stoning is being justified in Sudan in the name of Islam, yet the use of stoning today is wholly un-Islamic and religiously illegitimate. There is no mention of stoning in the Quran and many Muslim clerics, religious scholars, and political leaders have spoken out against the practice of stoning, and other Muslim majority countries have banned the practice.
We are urgently appealing for the support of the international community in demanding the Sudanese government immediately stop the execution of Layla Ibrahim Issa.
Please write immediately, in Arabic, English or your own language, to the Sudanese authorities (see full names and addresses listed below). Your appeals should contain the following important points:
The Sudanese authorities must
- Stop the execution of Layla Ibrahim Issa and re-open the case and guarantee her full rights to a fair trial;
- Provide Layla the legal representation in court in accordance with the Sudan Constitution and Article 135(13) of the Sudan Criminal Code 1991;
- Ensure that her condition in prison does not cause physical or mental pain or suffering, or humiliate or degrade her or her child;
- Guarantee that the best interest of the child who is detained with her, is taken into account by ensuring the principles followed are in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Sudan has signed and ratified, as well as with Article 32 of the Sudan Constitution on the rights of women and children
- Establish an official moratorium on executions in the country, with a view to abolish the death penalty in line with the growing global trend and UN General Assembly resolutions, and urge the President to commute all existing death sentences.
We also ask that you send copies of your appeals to the Sudanese diplomatic missions in your country, particularly those in Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Layla is from Mesarya from South Kordofan. She is married, and has a 6-month child with her in the prison. The case of adultery was filed by her husband who claimed that the child is not his. The court did not brief Layla about her rights, most especially her right to legal representation before the trial began.
Sudan is a State party to a number of international human rights instruments. It signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1986. It has also signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Stoning as a form of injustice against women
A military coup in 1989 which ushered in the rule of Sudan’s long-term and current president Omar al-Bashir introduced shari’a as the foundation of the country’s jurisprudence and penal laws; a move widely perceived by many in Sudan as a pretext for the growth in stronghold by religious fundamentalist forces in the government.
The al-Bashir government passed the Sudanese Criminal Code in 1991 which contains a number of articles intended to curb women’s enjoyment of their fundamental rights. These articles have become the major impediments to Sudan’s accession to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Sudan is now one of the seven (7) remaining countries who have yet to sign and ratify the Convention. One of these Articles is 146A, which provides capital punishment for married men and women who are found guilty of engaging in sexual relationships outside marriage. The president must approve all death sentences before they are carried out. On 1 August 2010, the Sudanese Parliament called for the punishment of stoning to death for “adulterers” or those accused of having extra-marital affairs. However, the Sudanese delegation during the Universal Period Review (UPR) of Sudan by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 stated that “the death penalty was practiced in the most restricted manner and imposed for the most serious crimes and it is associated with the right to practice religion as guaranteed by international human rights treaties”. They also claimed that there are strict legal safeguards in trials of cases punishable by the death penalty.
Take Action! Write to the following authorities:
HE Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
PO Box 281
Salutation: Your Excellency
2. Minister of Justice
Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Salutation: Your Excellency
3. Chief Justice
Jalal al-Din Mohammed Osman
Ministry of Justice
Salutation: Your Excellency
4. Diplomatic Missions
Addresses of the diplomatic mission in your country may be listed on this website: http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/sudan.
 Article 149 of the 1991 Criminal Code defined rape with reference to adultery, noting that this created confusion over evidentiary requirements for a prosecution, and that women are put at risk of facing prosecution for adultery where rape cannot not be proved.