PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 54/012/2009
29 April 2009
UA 108/09 Death penalty
SUDAN 82 Darfuri men (names known to Amnesty International)
Sudanese special courts have sentenced 82 Darfuri men to death, after unfair trials, for their alleged
involvement in a May 2008 attack on the capital, Khartoum, by a Darfur-based armed opposition group, the
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The courts that sentenced them to death were set up after the attack on Khartoum, which left 220 people
dead (according to government figures). They were set up under the 2001 Counter-Terrorism Act, in the first
use of this Act. Setting up such courts contravenes the 2005 Interim Constitution and existing Sudanese law.
The most recent death sentences were handed down to 11 men on 26 April, 11 men were also sentenced to
death on 22 April. Another 10 had been sentenced to death on 15 April by another special court. The 50
others now under sentence of death had been convicted during July and August 2008: their lawyers appealed
in August, and are awaiting the decision of the Court of Appeal. Lawyers representing the men convicted more
recently have a week after sentencing in which to appeal.
According to local lawyers and human rights activists, the men's trials were grossly unfair: many had no
access to legal counsel until their trials had begun. Many were tortured or otherwise ill treated, and many
confessed under torture.
The JEM's May 2008 attack on Khartoum was neutralized by Sudanese forces in a matter of hours, and was
followed by widespread arrests by the National Intelligence and Security Services of Darfuri civilians living in
Khartoum. During the next two months, Amnesty International received reports of extrajudicial executions,
hundreds of arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions, and widespread torture and other ill-treatment
in detention: arrests have continued, though in smaller numbers. Many of those arrested have been subjected
to enforced disappearance.
Anti-Terrorism Special Courts were established on 29 May to try those accused of taking part in the attack on
Khartoum. Between July and August, 50 alleged members of the JEM were sentenced to death after unfair
The use of torture to extract confessions is built into the Sudanese system of justice by Article 10(i) of the
Law of Evidence of 1993, which states that "… evidence is not dismissed solely because it has been obtained
through an improper procedure, if the court is satisfied that it is independent and admissible."
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Arabic or your own
- calling on the authorities to overturn the death sentences passed on the 82 men by Anti-Terrorism Special
Courts in connection with the May 2008 attack on Khartoum by the Justice and Equality Movement;
- expressing opposition to the death penalty, which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment
and is a violation of the right to life;