On June 26, a 20 years old woman from the northeastern African country of Sudan was sentenced to death by stoning for cheating on her husband. She was convicted on charges of adultery, being the first case of stoning in the country after almost a decade.
Maryam Alsyed Tiyrab was sentenced after a police investigator obtained an alleged confession. The police arrested her in White Nile state after she had separated from her husband and returned to her family home.
Tiyrab faced an unfair trial as she did not know that the information she offered during her interrogation would be used against her. This peculiar trial was highly irregular; the judicial process began without a formal complaint, and she was also denied access to a lawyer.
Sudan woman faces death by stoning for adultery in first case for a decade https://t.co/M0xSBHYk0m
— The Guardian (@guardian) July 13, 2022
News of her conviction raises concerns as many fear that after the military coup in October last year, the "emboldened" lawmakers are deliberately administering such severe sentences against women to reverse the little progress that women's rights made in the country under the transitional government.
Tiyrab has appealed to the Supreme Court to overrule the decision since most of these lawsuits are dismissed. The Supreme Court, which has yet to validate the state court's ruling, can annul the sentence since it represents a violation of international law. In particular, it violates the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the African nation last August.
The last time such a sentence was given in Sudan was in 2013. At that time, a woman from the southern part of the country was also to be stoned. However, the High Court overturned the decision.
The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), which promotes women's rights and legal reforms in Sudan, denounced the sentence as violating domestic and international law and demanded Tiyrab's "immediate and unconditional release."
The organization emphasized that most adultery sentences in Sudan are carried out predominantly against women.
The ACJPS added, "The application of the death penalty by stoning for the crime of adultery is a grave violation of international law, including the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,"
Under the Islamic law of Sharia, enforced in the country of Sudan, "hudud offenses," which include adultery, apostasy, theft, assault, slander, and alcohol consumption, have severe penalties such as amputation of hands, flogging, and even death.
In 2020, the transitional government announced the abolition of the discriminatory laws under former head of state Omar al-Bashir, as part of the country's democratization process. Death by stoning was not among the reforms that were made.
A human rights lawyer, Jehanne Henry, said, "The death by stoning case is a reminder that the criminal law reforms during the transition [government] were not complete, and that such harsh, archaic punishments are still officially on the books,"