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Justice in Sudan

On February 1, Human Rights Watch wrote to President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir condemning Sudan's justice system for handing down such barbaric punishments as amputations and death by stoning. The letter highlighted the case of eighteen-year-old Abok Alfau Akok, a Christian woman from the Dinka tribe. On December 8, 2001, a criminal court in Nyala, southern Darfur, sentenced Ms. Akok to death by stoning after finding her guilty of adultery. Ms. Akok did not have legal representation during the trial and was pregnant at the time of her conviction. The trial was conducted in Arabic, which is not her language, and there was no translation of the proceedings to ensure that she fully understood the case against her. The man with whom she allegedly had sex was not tried. HRW researcher Jemera Rone also raised the case in a meeting with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismael during his visit to Washington DC on February 6. On February 9, the appellate court reversed the death sentence and sent the case back to the trial court where on February 12 the young woman was sentenced to seventy-five lashes. These were administered immediately (in the interim, she had given birth). She is appealing the denial of her right to appeal this second sentence. She has been released from jail and is with her infant and relatives.

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