KHARTOUM – A Sudanese woman accused of adultery has been sentenced to death by stoning and is being held shackled with her six-month-old baby in jail, activists said on Wednesday, in the second such sentence in the past few months in the country.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said last month that Sudan would adopt a “100 percent” Islamic constitution, prompting concerns the country would apply Islamic law more strictly after the secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan a year ago.
A court in the capital Khartoum sentenced 23-year-old Laila Ibrahim Issa Jamool on July 10 to death by stoning for adultery, said Sudanese human rights activist Fahima Hashim who has been following her and other such cases.
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), a women’s rights group, said it had assigned lawyers who had appealed against the conviction and sentence. Jamool’s husband had accused her of adultery, it said.
“The appeal is understood to take not less than one-and-a-half months before a response can be got from the court of appeal. During all this time, Mrs Jamool will still be shackled in Omdurman (near Khartoum) women’s prison together with her six-month (old) child,” SIHA said in a statement.
The baby is in poor health it said, without giving further details.
Officials in Sudan’s justice and information ministries were not available for comment.
Amnesty International said the conviction did not meet international legal standards and also violated Sudanese criminal law.
“The stoning sentence was imposed … after an unfair trial in which she was convicted solely on the basis of her confession and did not have access to a lawyer,” Amnesty said in a statement.
In April, a Sudanese court handed out a stoning sentence for adultery against Intisar Sharif Abdalla, who activists said was in her 20s.
She was released on July 3 after her lawyers successfully appealed because she had been denied a lawyer in her trial, according to Amnesty and local activists.
Floggings are a common punishment in Sudan for crimes such as drinking alcohol and adultery. But sentences of stoning are rare.
Following a 1989 coup, Sudan introduced laws that took Islamic law, or sharia, as their main source and the country hosted Islamist militants including Osama bin Laden.
While the government has since sought to improve its image internationally by distancing itself from radical Islamists, it is still one of only a few countries to list death by stoning in its statutes.
In 2010, the case of Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese U.N. official, sparked international furore when she was sentenced to flogging for wearing trousers. She challenged the sentence in court and was instead fined.