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UA 349/91 - Sudan: fear of execution and crucifixion: Baher Abdul Hamed, Juma Imam, Ali Mohamed Beshir, Ismail Yacoub

, Index number: AFR 54/018/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 54/18/91
Distr: UA/SC
Sections are strongly encouraged to seek appeals from members of the Muslim
community residing in their own country who might invoke their own arguments
based on the Islamic faith and culture, as these arguments are likely to carry
more weight with the authorities in Sudan. Please bring this appeal to the
attention of the Religions Coordinator in your section if you have one but
please note that a large number of appeals from Christian organizations is
not felt to be appropriate in this case.
UA 349/91 Fear of Execution and Crucifixion 21 October 1991
SUDAN Baher Abdul Hamed
Juma Imam
Ali Mohamed Beshir
Ismail Yacoub
On 10 October 1991 the four men named above were sentenced to death by hanging
after which their bodies are to be publicly crucified. They were convicted
by a court in El Fashir, the capital of Darfur in western Sudan, of armed robbery,
firearms offences and of "spreading corruption on earth", as defined under
the Sudan government's interpretation of Islamic Shari'a law in the new penal
code introduced in March 1991. The four men were described by government
sources as "highway robbers" and were found guilty of having stolen 55,000
Sudanese pounds (approximately US$ 3,665) from a vehicle. The four have the
right to appeal to a higher court against their sentences, but it is not known
if this has taken place. Their sentences have to be endorsed by Sudan's Head
of State, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
These death sentences are believed to be the first involving hanging and
crucifixion since two men convicted of murder and theft were hanged and then
crucified in public in El Fashir in August 1990. They are also thought to
be the first death sentences passed down in Sudan for "spreading corruption
on earth". In the terms of the Qu'ran this offence involves making "war upon
Allah and his messenger". The actual nature of the offence is open to
interpretation by the authorities, but whatever is deemed to comprise it is
by definition sacrilegious. It is possible for the charge to be used to refer
to political offences, although it is not known if this is the situation in
these cases.
Darfur has been the scene of complex intercommunal strife and frequent
armed robberies for several years, a situation which has been exacerbated by
conflict in neighbouring Chad, but which also involves acts of rebellion against
the authorities in Khartoum. There have been reports of attacks by the army
on villages of both the Fur and Zaghawa peoples in Darfur. The government
has indicated that its military operations are
against what it calls "armed bandits". However, there have been persistent
reports of indiscriminate attacks on villages and of the extrajudicial execution
of civilians. In August 1991 Colonel al-Tayib Ibrahim Mohamed Khair, formerly
Minister of Cabinet Affairs, was appointed Regional Governor of Darfur. Since
his appointment military operations in the area have intensified and there
have been reports of renewed operations involving attacks by the army on villages
occupied by the Zaghawa.
page 2 of UA 349/91
At least 33 people have been executed since the 30 June 1989 coup which
brought the current military government to power in Sudan. There are
unconfirmed reports that 13 criminal prisoners were executed in early August
1991.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern that Baher Abdul Hamed, Juma Imam, Ali Mohamed Bashir
and Ismail Yacoub have been sentenced to death and that afterwards their bodies
are to be publicly crucified;
- explaining Amnesty International's opposition to the death penalty in all
cases as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected
to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, as proclaimed in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- referring to Sudan's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Sudan ratified in 1986, not to impose the
death penalty except for "the most serious crimes", and as a quite exceptional
measure;
- referring to basic safeguards adopted by the United Nations in May 1984 to
protect the rights of anyone facing the death penalty, one of which stipulates
that anyone sentenced to death should have the right of appeal to a court of
higher jurisdiction;
- appealing for commutation of their death sentences.
APPEALS TO
His Excellency Lieutenant Your Excellency
General Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Head of State and Chairman of the National Salvation
Revolution Command Council
People's Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Lt.-Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Khartoum, Sudan
Telex: 22385 PEPLC SD or 22411 KAID SD
Brigadier-General al-Zubeir Mohamed Saleh Dear Brigadier-General
Vice-President of the National Salvation
Revolution Command Council
People's Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Telegrams: Brig.-Gen. al-Zubeir Mohamed Saleh, Khartoum, Sudan
Telexes: 22736 PROC SD
Brigadier Ahmad Mahmoud Hassan Dear Minister
Minister of Justice and Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
Khartoum, Sudan
Telexes: 22459 KHRJA SD or 22461 KHRJA SD (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
COPIES TO:
Mr Jalal Ali Lufti
Chief Justice
Law Courts
Khartoum, Sudan
Mr Ali Sahloul
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Khartoum, Sudan
and to diplomatic representatives of Sudan in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 7 November 1991.

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