Sudan

Sudan: Change the law – allow victims of sexual violence to access justice

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Mar 13
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

11 SEPTEMBER 2014 UPDATE: Following our calls on government officials and our June submission to the Human Rights Committee, the State has since provided the young woman with medical attention (she gave birth in June). Additionally, she no longer faces deportation as the immigration charges were suspended. Equality Now continues to pursue all angles to ensure justice for the young survivor and an amendment of Sudan’s rape and public order laws.

Please continue to lend your voice to the call for all criminal charges against her to be dropped. Thank you for your support! 


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What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

Join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan.
Please take urgent action today by writing to the officials below to demand that:

  • The prosecution drop all criminal charges against the young woman, and cease any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan

H.E. Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: moj@moj.gov.sd

H.E. Fatih Ezzidin Ahmed Speaker of the National Assembly
The Peoples Hall Omdurman
PO Box 14416, Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 00249 187 560 950 Emails: info@parliament.gov.sd
sudanipg@parliament.gov.sd

H.E. Mashair Aldawalab
Minster of Welfare & Social Security
Ministry of Welfare & Social Security (General Directorate for Women & Family Affairs)
PO Box: 12661
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 83777633
Emails: info@gdwfa.gov.sd

H.E. Ali Ahmed Karti
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 873
Khartoum, Sudan

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Speaker,

I am deeply concerned by the overwhelming challenges women and girls face when seeking justice   for rape and sexual violence in Sudan. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal August 2013 gang rape of a 19-year-old pregnant and divorced Ethiopian woman by seven men in Omdurman. I was outraged to learn that a victim of sexual violence was re-victimized by the very judicial system that should be seeking justice for her. This was tragically demonstrated by her arrest alongside the perpetrators who raped her, her detainment, the various charges levied against her, and her subsequent guilty charge and sentence for committing indecent acts. This case highlights the tremendous challenges victims face victims and the urgent need for legal reform, especially to article 149 of the criminal code referring to rape.

Under current laws, when a woman or girl reports she has been raped, she also exposes herself to possible prosecution. Effectively, a victim has to prove her own innocence by demonstrating that the encounter was non-consensual. If she fails to do so, she is liable to be prosecuted for adultery (zina). The law lacks clear guidelines on its interpretation and implementation, which allows judges wide discretion that is often unjust to victims seeking redress through the criminal justice system. In this case, even with filmed evidence of the rape, the victim was still found guilty of indecent acts. All these factors, combined with the traumatic stigma and fear of community reprisals, often deter women and girls from reporting crimes of sexual violence and make it very difficult for them to achieve justice even if they do.

Sudan is obligated in its interim constitution of 2005 and under several international conventions to ensure that men and women are treated equally under the law and to prevent victims from being criminalized. The Interim National Constitution of the Republic of Sudan in article 28 of its Bill of Rights states that “Every human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person, which shall be protected by law” and in article 31 that “all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination, as to . . . sex . . . to the equal protection of the law.” Both the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) echo these rights and state, “(1) Every individual shall be equal before the law and (2) Every individual shall be entitled to equal protection of the law.” The African Charter and the ICCPR prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment,” but Sudan violates this article when it punishes sexual violence victims by charging them with adultery.

I join Equality Now in calling for justice for all survivors and victims of sexual violence in Sudan. I urge Sudanese authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Sudan’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • The prosecution drops all criminal charges against the young woman, and ceases any legal action to deport her to Ethiopia.
  • The young woman is promptly provided with adequate medical and psychological support as a victim and survivor of sexual violence.
  • Immediate steps are taken to amend the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991 and the Sudan Evidence Act of 1994 to prevent the criminalization of sexual violence victims, and to ensure that women and girls who have been raped receive equal protection under the law in accordance with Sudan’s international obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Sudan: Stop the stoning of Intisar Sharif Abdalla

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2012 Jun 6
Update Date: 
2012 Jul 3
Update: 

UPDATE 3 July 2012: On 22 June, an appellate court vacated Intisar Sharif Abdalla’s sentence and ordered a new trial based on defects in the original trial. On 3 July, the trial court found no evidence to proceed with the trial and dismissed the charges. Intisar has been freed from prison. Thank you for taking action.

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What You Can Do: 

Please write to Sudanese officials to call for:

  • the immediate and unconditional release of Intisar Sharif Abdalla;
  • the establishment of a moratorium on death by stoning;
  • the commutation of all sentences of death by stoning;
  • the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as torture, flogging and stoning in accordance with Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter and the ICCPR;
  • a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Criminal Act of Sudan, 1991, in particular Article 146, and the removal of all provisions that discriminate against, or have a discriminatory impact on, women, including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Sudan’s own constitutional provision on the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sex. 

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Please send your letters to:

President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Email: info@sudan.gov.sd

Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Dr. Moaz Tango
Advisory Committee on Human Rights
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
PO Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Jalal al-Din Mohammed Osman
Chief Justice
Ministry of Justice
Justice Towers
Gamhoria Street
P.O Box 302
Khartoum, Sudan

Letters: 

Dear ______:

I write to you with grave concern over the 13 May 2012 sentencing of Intisar Sharif Abdalla, a mother of three, to death by stoning for adultery under Article 146 of the Sudanese Penal Code.

The prescribed punishment of death by stoning violates Sudan’s International legal obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that clearly prohibit all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment. In addition, the death penalty for the crime of adultery does not fall within internationally accepted concept of ‘most serious offences’ warranting a death penalty as reiterated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (currently the Human Rights Council) and Human Rights Committee.

Moreover, it appears that Intisar’s trial did not meet the standards of fair trial under Sudanese or international law. It is particularly concerning that her sentence was imposed based on a coerced admission after she was tortured by her brother. Confessions extracted under torture and duress should not be admissible in Court and cannot form the basis of a death sentence. Moreover, I believe that Intisar was denied the right to legal representation despite the guarantee under Article 34 (6) of the Interim National Constitution that “Any accused person has the right to defend himself/herself in person or through a lawyer of his/her own choice and to have legal aid assigned to him/her by the State where he/she is unable to defend himself/herself in serious offences.” In addition, Intisar was apparently not able to understand the proceedings against her that were conducted in Arabic, not her native language. The execution of persons after a trial that does not meet international fair trial standards amounts to a violation of the right to life.

I respectfully urge you to immediately and unconditionally release Intisar Sharif Abdalla, declare a moratorium on death by stoning, commute all sentences of death by stoning and prohibit all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, such as torture, flogging and stoning, in accordance with Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter and the ICCPR.

I further urge you to conduct a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Criminal Act of Sudan, 1991, and in particular Article 146 with a view to removing all provisions that discriminate against, or have a discriminatory impact on, women including those regarding adultery and fornication, in accordance with Sudan’s Constitutional provisions on the right to equality and non-discrimination based on sex.

Respectfully yours,

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