Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – International women’s rights group Equality Now issued an urgent alert Thursday calling for “immediate and unconditional release” of a Sudanese mother of three, Intisar Sharif Abdalla, who was sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery.
Intisar, who initially denied the charges, only “admitted” to adultery after being beaten and tortured by her brother, the rights body said.
According to Equality Now, the woman was sentenced to death by stoning solely based on coerced admission and was denied access to a lawyer at the hearing.
In addition, she was not provided with an interpreter to translate the court proceeding conducted in Arabic, which is not her native language. Her co-accused denied the charges and was never prosecuted.
On 13 May 2012, Intisar was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery under Article 146 of the Sudanese penal code by the Ombada General Criminal Court in Khartoum State.
Currently, Intisar, along with her four-month-old son, is being held in the Omdurman women’s prison in east-central Sudan and she has appealed the decision of the Ombada General Criminal Court.
Equality Now has appealed to human rights society to write to Sudanese officials calling for Intisar’s release and the prohibition by law of all cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as stoning, in accordance with Sudan’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to the rights group, the prescribed punishment of death by stoning violates Sudan’s international legal obligations under a number of human rights instruments ratified by Sudan.
Additionally, the death penalty for the crime of adultery does not fall within the internationally accepted concept of ‘most serious offences’ warranting a death penalty as reiterated by the UN Commission on Human Rights (currently the UN Human Rights Council) and the Human Rights Committee.
“Equality Now opposes the death penalty and the criminalization of private acts engaged in by consenting adults,” the rights body affirmed.
Article 34 (6) of the Sudanese Constitution provides anyone accused of a serious offence the right to defend through a lawyer or to have legal aid assigned to her by the State, and Intisar was not granted this right.
Equality Now said that confessions extracted under duress should not be admitted in court and cannot form the basis of a death sentence.
In addition, it called for 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.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 7June2012