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Judicial CP - January 2004

Corpun file 12759, 23 January 2004

Chief Justice Suspends Flogging of Girl

The London-based human rights organisation Amnesty International has welcomed the suspension of a flogging sentence against a 16-year-old girl convicted last year of adultery, but urged the Sudanese dictatorship to treat the case in accordance to their obligations under international human rights law.

The dictatorship's "chief justice" on Wednesday suspended the sentence against Intisar Bakri Abd al-Qadir, pending her appeal against it. She was to have received 100 lashes, with the punishment due to be carried out on Friday.

Benedicte Goderiaux, Amnesty International's programme officer for Sudan, told reporters that whereas her organisation had not adopted any stance against Islam, it considered punishments such as flogging, torture, amputation and execution as cruel, degrading and inhuman. "The sentence was inconsistent with Sudan's commitments under international human rights law," Goderiaux said. "Moreover, the girl is below 18. She is a child. Such a punishment contravenes the right of the child," she added.

According to Goderiaux, the law was applied unfairly against Intisar, whose pregnancy was used in court as sufficient evidence for a conviction, yet the man involved only needed four witnesses to prove his innocence.

Intisar's lawyer Ghazi Sulayman, who is also a human rights activist, told reporters on Thursday that he had appealed against the sentence on the grounds that she was not only a Christian, and therefore not bound by Shari'ah (Islamic law), but also that she was still was a minor.

"The chief justice of Sudan ordered a stay of execution and promised to look at my appeal," Sulayman told reporters from Khartoum. "I am very optimistic that the high court of Sudan will dismiss the case against her," he added.

According the Koran, the Islamic holy book, a man or woman convicted of adultery is to receive 100 lashes. It also says those who "defame honourable" women and cannot produce four witnesses shall be given 80 lashes.

The dictatorship based in Khartoum Sudan claims to be implementing Islamic law, however observers point out that if it really were it would have to amputate its own hands and legs first.

The girl, who reportedly lives with her mother in a shanty town outside Khartoum, gave birth in September to a son. The man who she alleged to have raped her has, however, denied having had any connection with her. The punishment had initially been postponed because she was pregnant, and then in December because she was in poor health.

Sulayman criticised the magistrate who had passed the sentence. He went on to say that he intended to lodge a separate suit against the man who allegedly raped Intisar. "I will ask for more evidence against the man and even, where possible, a DNA test to prove the paternity of the child," he said.

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