PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 54/013/2002
EXTRA 56/02 Imminent Execution/Torture/Unfair trial 18 July 2002
SUDAN88 people, reportedly from the Rizeigat ethnic group
Eighty-eight people were condemned to death by the “special” or “emergency”
court in the city of Nyala on 17 July. They could be imminently executed by
hanging or crucifixion and have seven days to appeal to the Chief Justice of
the Nyala District, southern Darfur Province, Western Sudan.
They were tried without proper legal representation and some were reportedly
tortured before trial. At least 35 of the detainees complained of being badly
beaten with sticks, gun butts and hoses by police officers in Nyala in June.
Some reportedly had their fingers and forearms broken. Their defence lawyers
asked the court for medical examinations to be carried out on those who were
allegedly tortured. This request was refused and on 2 July the defence lawyers
withdrew from the court in protest at this decision and the court’s refusal
to let them question prosecution witnesses.
The 88 are part of a group of at least 130, mostly from the Rizeigat community
in southern Darfur, who were arrested on 6 May. They were charged with crimes
relating to murder, armed robbery and public disturbance. They are convicted
of having participated in the recent clashes between the Rizeigat and the Maalyia
ethnic groups in Al-Tabet, Southern Darfur, that killed at least 10 people.
There are allegations that the Maalyia could now be supported by the Sudanese
government as a proxy militia in the civil war in southern Sudan.
Sudan’s Penal Code, which is based upon the government’s interpretation of
Shari’a (Islamic law), includes penalties such as limb amputation, death, and
death followed by crucifixion. Amnesty International regards these as cruel,
inhuman or degrading punishments. They are inconsistent with international
human rights law and Sudan’s obligations under the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Sudan has ratified, and the United
Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which Sudan has signed. Amnesty International
is unconditionally opposed to the death penalty and other forms of cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment, and campaigns for these to be removed
from all penal codes without exception. The organization takes no position
on the ideological or religious basis of any penal code.
Darfur has been the scene of complex strife between ethnic groups, and frequent
armed robberies by bandits, for many years. The region is prone to a
proliferation of small arms, often aided by the government’s strategy to arm
and support local ethnic groups as auxiliary forces to fight in its 19 years-old
war against the main armed opposition Southern People’s Liberation Army. The
government has extended and intensified the State of Emergency, announced in
December 1999 in Khartoum and renewed every year since, to Northern and Southern
Darfur provinces. Emergency or Special Courts were established in May 2001
in both provinces to deal with offences such as armed robbery, murder and
possession and smuggling of weapons. These courts are headed by two military
judges and one civil judge and do not allow legal representation for the accused.
People convicted by these courts may appeal within seven days to the District
Chief Justice in Darfur.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
English, Arabic or your own language: