Republic of the Sudan (Sudan)

Official Country Name

Republic of the Sudan (Sudan).

Geographical Region

Africa (Northern Africa).

Language(s)

Arabic, English.

Population

33,419,625.

Retentionist or Abolitionist De Facto

Retentionist.

Year of Last Known Execution

2021.

Methods of Execution

Hanging.

In Sudan, execution may be by hanging or by other methods. Amnesty International’s reports during the past few years suggest that hanging is the predominant method of execution in Sudan.

Stoning.

In Sudan, execution can be carried out by stoning for hadd offenses. The execution is carried out by a crowd throwing stones at the victim, who is buried up to her chest with her hands tied.

Other.

Retributive sentences may be carried out “in the same manner in which the offender caused death.”

Comments.

The punishment for armed robbery is death “with crucifixion;” the crucifixion – a hudud punishment - is a display of the offender’s body following the execution, intended to draw attention to the crime and its punishment.

Number of Individuals On Death Row

At least 109.

At the end of 2018, there were at least 109 people on death row.

(This question was last updated on May 31, 2019.).

Annual Number of Reported Executions in Last Decade

Executions in 2021 to date (last update on Sep. 15, 2021)

1. This is the number of executions reported in the media. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.

Executions in 2020 to date

0. This is the number of executions reported in the media. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.

Executions in 2019

0 This is the number of executions reported in the media. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.

Executions in 2018

2.

Executions in 2017

0.

Executions in 2016

2.

Executions in 2015

3.

Executions in 2014

At least 23.

Executions in 2013

At least 21.

Executions in 2012

At least 19.

Executions in 2011

7 At least 2 were women.

Executions in 2010

At least 13 individuals were executed in 2010, of which 7 were executed in southern Sudan.

Executions in 2009

19.

Executions in 2008

3.

Executions in 2007

7.

Is there an official moratorium on executions?

We found no reports of an official moratorium, and individuals were executed in 2011.

Does the country’s constitution mention capital punishment?

The National Constitution of the Sudan provides that:
“(1) No death penalty shall be imposed, save as retribution, hudud or punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law. (2) The death penalty shall not be imposed on a person under the age of eighteen or a person who has attained the age of seventy except in cases of retribution or hudud. (3) No death penalty shall be executed upon pregnant or lactating women, save after two years of lactation.”

Additionally, the National Constitution provides that “[every] human being has the inherent right to life, dignity and the integrity of his/her person, which shall be protected by law; no one shall arbitrarily be deprived of his/her life,” and that “[no] person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Offenses Punishable by Death

Murder.

Intentional killing carries the retributive sentence of death (qisas); an individual can procure a lighter sentence by payment of diya to the victim’s family.

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.

- Bearing false witness resulting in an innocent person’s execution for a capital offense, or fabricating evidence with such results, is punished by death.
- Abetting the suicide of an individual unable to give legal consent carries the retributive sentence of death.
- Armed robbery resulting in death carries the hadd punishment of death.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.

Terrorism involving aircraft hijacking that jeopardizes life or an attempt to seriously damage or destroy an aircraft is punishable by death. Forming or attempting to form a criminal organization, or participating in such an organization or facilitating its activities, to stage attacks that may jeopardize life or property or tranquility, is punishable by death. Committing a terrorist act is punishable by death. An act of terrorism is defined as an act “aiming at striking terror among, or awe upon the people, by hurting them, or exposing the lives, freedom or security thereof, to danger, or causing damage to the environment, public, or private property, one of the public, or private utilities or belongings, occupying or appropriating the same, or exposing one of the native, or national strategic resources to danger.”

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.

Terrorism involving aircraft hijacking that jeopardizes life or an attempt to seriously damage or destroy an aircraft is punishable by death. Forming or attempting to form a criminal organization, or participating in such an organization or facilitating its activities, to stage attacks that may jeopardize life or property or tranquility, is punishable by death. Committing a terrorist act is punishable by death. An act of terrorism is defined as an act “aiming at striking terror among, or awe upon the people, by hurting them, or exposing the lives, freedom or security thereof, to danger, or causing damage to the environment, public, or private property, one of the public, or private utilities or belongings, occupying or appropriating the same, or exposing one of the native, or national strategic resources to danger.”

Rape Not Resulting in Death.

Homosexual rape or rape by a married person is punishable by death. Homosexual incest or incest by a married person is punishable by death; in some cases, this would involve the statutory rape of a child.

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.

Armed robbery aggravated by rape is punished by death.

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.

Trafficking or producing drugs by a recidivist, an official entrusted with combating drug trafficking, by use of a person unable to give legal consent, or as part of an international criminal organization, carries the mandatory death penalty. Providing drugs or other assistance related to trafficking carries a discretionary death penalty under those same circumstances or when drugs are provided to students or distributed in places of schooling.

Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.

According to the 2007 Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee, embezzlement by officials has resulted in imposition of the death penalty in Sudan. We found no corroborating law.

Adultery.

Under certain evidentiary showings, adultery carries the hadd punishment of stoning if the offender is married.

Apostasy.

Apostasy carries the mandatory death penalty unless the accused is a recent convert to Islam.

Consensual Sexual Relations Between Adults of Same Sex.

Sodomy between males is punishable by death upon the third offense.

Treason.

High treason or undermining the constitutional order or unity of the nation is punishable by death.

Espionage.

Espionage against the federal government is punishable by death.

War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide.

On May 25, 2009, the Sudan National Assembly amended the 1991 Criminal Act to include genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity as death-eligible offenses. We found no corroborating law.

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.

-Heterosexual sodomy is apparently punishable by death upon the third offense.
-Incest committed by a married offender is punishable by death in Sudan.
-Running a place for prostitution is punishable by death upon the third offense.

Comments.

Why have we referenced the 1991 Criminal Act of Sudan (replacing the Penal Code of 1983) instead of the 2003 Penal Code (replacing the Penal Code of 1994) available from so many sources offering the laws of Sudan? The 2003 Penal Code replaces the 1994 code of the SPLM/SPLA, which was the law of the Southern revolutionary government, not the law of Sudan. The 2003 Code has since been replaced by a penal code and criminal procedure code promulgated in peacetime Southern Sudan in 2008, so the 2003 law is not actually the law, anywhere, at this time. We did not find any reason to conclude that the 1991 Criminal Act of Sudan has been replaced, though it may have been amended. The various sources offering Sudan’s law, including the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, are—we believe—simply wrong.

We did not find the military law for Sudan. A U.N. report indicates that the regular military may be governed by regulatory codes. We do not know whether the death penalty applies for military offenses in Sudan.

In a nutshell, the standard of proof is demanding for the application of hudud penalties, such that the punishment of offenses such as adultery would usually not be possible as hudud. The standard for application of qisas is also high, and harsh ta’zir punishments are discouraged. Countries practicing Islamic law vary in their guarantee of its safeguards.

According to an in-country expert, the statutory picture may not describe the full legal picture. For instance: In Eastern Sudan, traditional courts adjudicate, and a murder is punishable by death but may be resolved through a settlement. In Northern Sudan, as described, Shariah law is used.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. In the portions of Sudan applying the Criminal Act of 1991, it is clear that the mandatory death penalty exists. The religiously stipulated death penalty is mandatory, as is the retributive death penalty; only for ta’zir offenses (those not religiously stipulated as hudud or retributive) does the law permit and require discretionary sentencing. Sudan’s laws are sometimes in conflict with the requirement of discretionary sentencing for ta’zir offenses. Although the retributive death penalty for murder does permit pardon by the victim’s family (whether or not in exchange for blood money), this is still a mandatory death penalty because discretion does not reside with the sentencing court.

Which offenses carry a mandatory death sentence, if any?

Murder.

Intentional killing carries the retributive sentence of death; an individual can procure a lighter sentence by payment of diya (compensation) to the victim’s family. This is a mandatory death penalty because the victim’s family, not a court, determines whether the offender will be executed.

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.

Hiraba (armed robbery) resulting in death carries a religiously stipulated hudud death penalty, which is thus a mandatory death penalty. According to statutory language, bearing false witness resulting in an innocent person’s execution for a capital offense, or fabricating evidence with such results, carries the mandatory death penalty. Abetting the suicide of an individual unable to give legal consent seems, according to the language, to carry the retributive sentence of death, which is a mandatory death penalty as the family of the victim, not a court, would determine whether the offender will be executed.

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.

Armed robbery aggravated by rape carries the mandatory death penalty.

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.

Trafficking or producing drugs by a recidivist, an official entrusted with combating drug trafficking, by use of a person unable to give legal consent, or as part of an international criminal organization, carries the mandatory death penalty.

Adultery.

Under certain evidentiary showings, adultery carries the hadd punishment of stoning if the offender is married; religiously stipulated hudud punishments are mandatory.
Sentences of stoning are usually overturned (normally following international outcry).

Apostasy.

Individuals convicted of apostasy, unless they are recent converts, must re-embrace Islam or die. This constitutes a mandatory death penalty for apostasy.

Comments.

For general reference on the classification of crimes under Shari’a law, and commentary on the procedural safeguards typical under the Shari’a law, see the sources we list as general references.

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty

Individuals Below Age 18 at Time of Crime.

According to the 2010 Concluding Observations of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Sudan Child Act of 2010 prohibits the passing of a death sentence against an individual under the age of 18, while the National Constitution explicitly permits (in any language) the execution of children for hudud and retributive penalties. Inter Press News Service Agency (IPS) reported in 2006: “‘It is confusing,’ Fathi Khalil, president of the Sudan Bar Association, told IPS. ‘But it is clear to us in the Arabic translation that minors cannot be executed.’” In May 2009, an individual was executed for a hudud crime committed as a juvenile. The Supreme Court, overruling the decision of the Nyala Appellate Court, explicitly held that the Constitution permitted such an execution and that the 2004 Child Act (prohibiting such executions) was irrelevant since the defendant was over the age of 15, triggering the conflicting 1991 Criminal Act. We are unable to ascertain how the Court was able to sustain such reasoning, although a 2009 report of Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, explains that the 2010 Child Act (being drafted in 2009) explicitly defines a child as any individual not yet 18 years of age; perhaps foreclosing the interpretive loophole previously exploited by the Supreme Court.

It is true that on at least one occasion the Supreme Court has amended the charges against a minor to reduce a sentence on appeal. However, juveniles have been and continue to be sentenced to death and executed. On November 2, 2010, Amnesty International reported that 4 alleged children were sentenced to death for offenses against the state, armed robbery and criminal damage. One child’s sentence was commuted upon a medical examination, the results of another medical examination were ignored, and two alleged children were sentenced to death and not allowed a medical examination to prove their ages. In May 2012, a young woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery; although some human rights groups believed her to be under the age of 18, Sudanese authorities have considered her to be 20, so her age was not assessed by the court. A recent U.N. report indicates that courts have recently, upon occasion, wholly relied on police methods of determining age such as counting teeth, checking for the yellowing of teeth, checking for underarm hair, and assessing the deepness of the suspect’s voice. It remains to be seen whether Sudan’s Supreme Court will respect the law laid out in the new 2010 Child Act.

During Sudan’s Universal Periodic Review in May 2011, other delegations recommended that Sudan prohibit executions of minors pursuant to the Children’s Act of 2010. The Government of Sudan accepted these recommendations, stating that “the Constitution and the Child Act of 2010 prohibit the application of death penalty on persons below 18 years.”

Pregnant Women.

The National Constitution prohibits the execution of pregnant women."

Women With Small Children.

The National Constitution prohibits the execution of nursing women for 2 years after giving birth."

Mentally Ill.

Under the 1991 Penal Code, remission is mandatory if an individual becomes insane after sentencing. In practice, it may be difficult to obtain or use a reliable mental health evaluation.

Elderly.

The National Constitution prohibits the execution of persons over the age of 70 at the time of sentencing. However, the exclusion is waived for hudud and retributive penalties."

Comments.

For more information on the exclusions common under the Shari’a law, see our general references. The Shari’a law is consistent with the exclusions described above, although it might not have excluded the elderly from execution. Shari’a law did not set a bright-line age for defining juveniles (perhaps because determining age was sometimes impracticable), although age 15 came to be common in Shari’a jurisdictions. This past consensus was, in its own time, more restrictive than the European exclusion.

Offenses For Which Individuals Have Been Executed In the Last Decade

Murder.

In 2011, two young women, convicted of stoning a child to death under art. 130 (murder) of the Criminal Act, were hanged. In 2010, six men were executed for allegedly killing 13 policemen in clashes during a forced eviction from a squatter settlement. In 2009, nine men were executed for allegedly murdering a newspaper reporter; the men were convicted on the basis of forced written confessions.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.

In 2008, one man was executed (despite an amnesty agreement) under Article 51 of the Penal Code (treason) for allegedly opposing the government through violence; he was also convicted of being a member of terrorist or criminal groups.

Treason.

In 2008, one man was executed (despite an amnesty agreement) under Article 51 of the Penal Code (treason) for allegedly opposing the government through violence; he was also convicted of being a member of terrorist or criminal groups.

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We did not find any published cases (in English) concerning the death penalty in national courts. In 2009, the Supreme Court held that an individual could be executed for a hudud offense committed while under the age of 18, overruling the decision of the Nyala Appellate Court. The Supreme Court argued that the Constitution and the Criminal Act of 1991 permitted such executions, and that the 2004 Child Act was irrelevant because the Criminal Act of 1991 permits courts discretion to determine that individuals between the ages of 15 and 18 should be treated as adults. It does seem that the 2004 Child Act failed to explicitly provide that individuals under the age of 18 are to be considered children in all circumstances. However, the Supreme Court apparently did not explain why the 2004 Child Act would not embrace the more recent bright line rule implied by Article 36 of the Constitution, or why the definition of the child should not be drawn from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as required under Article 32(5) of Sudan’s 2005 National Constitution. We are unable to determine how the Supreme Court sustained its reasoning. This ruling eviscerated the 2004 Child Act—under this ruling, the 2004 Child Act cannot extend protection to individuals not explicitly protected under the Constitution, although it can provide for what the Constitution already spells out. A 2010 Child Act was subsequently enacted; the U.N. CRC has expressed concern about whether courts will permit it to protect children. A U.N. report suggests that the new Act explicitly forecloses the legal loophole the Supreme Court utilized to effectively nullify protections in the 2004 Child Act.

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The National Constitution provides that “[all] rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties, covenants and instruments ratified by the Republic of the Sudan” shall become an integral part of the Bill of Rights protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. It also provides that “[the] State shall protect the rights of the child as provided in the international and regional conventions ratified by the Sudan.” Finally, “[all] levels of government shall institute a process to progressively develop and amend the relevant laws to incorporate customary laws, practices, local heritage and international trends and practices.”

ICCPR

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

ICCPR Party?

Yes.

ICCPR Signed?

No.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

ICCPR 1st Protocol Party?

No.

ICCPR 1st Protocol Signed?

No.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

ICCPR 2nd Protocol Party?

No.

ICCPR 2nd Protocol Signed?

No.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

ACHR

American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR)

ACHR Party?

ACHR Signed?

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

DPP to ACHR Party?

DPP to ACHR Signed?

ACHPR

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

ACHPR Party?

Yes.

ACHPR Signed?

Yes.

Date of Signature

Sep. 3, 1982.

Date of Accession

Feb. 18, 1986.

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

ACHPR Women Party?

No.

ACHPR Women Signed?

Yes.

Date of Signature

Jun. 30, 2008.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

ACHPR Child Party?

Yes.

ACHPR Child Signed?

No.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Jul. 30, 2005.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Arab Charter Party?

Yes.

Arab Charter Signed?

Yes.

Date of Signature

July 21, 2005.

Date of Accession

May 21, 2013.

Comments and Decisions of the U.N. Human Rights System

In 2007, the Human Rights Committee noted in its Concluding Observations: “The imposition in the State party of the death penalty for offences which cannot be characterized as the most serious, including embezzlement by officials, robbery with violence and drug trafficking, as well as practices which should not be criminalised (sic) such as committing a third homosexual act and illicit sex, is incompatible with article 6 of the Covenant. (arts. 6 and 7 of the Covenant).” The Committee also insisted that the Constitutional Court was seized of a case in which it must adjudicate the petition of an individual alleged to be under the age of 18 at the time of an offense for which he was sentenced to death. The Committee reiterated that Sudan’s obligations under the ICCPR do not permit any exception or derogation to the prohibition against such executions. The Committee expressed concern that confessions coerced by torture are used to convict individuals of capital offenses, and insisted that Sudan adequately report on the use of the appeals process in order to rectify the abuses of human rights being perpetrated through torture and unfair trials. The Committee also stressed that apostasy cannot, consistently with Article 18 of the Covenant, be a crime.

Comments and Decisions of Regional Human Rights Systems

In 2007, following the sentencing to death of two young women for adultery and of two male juveniles aged 16, the European Parliament issued a resolution calling on the Sudanese Government to repeal those death sentences, reminding it that the use of the death penalty against child offenders is prohibited under international law, calling on Sudan to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, and calling on European Union institutions and Member States to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in their relations with the Sudanese authorities, including by demanding compliance with national law and international human rights standards.

In 2010, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that, despite Sudan’s 2010 Child Act, there may be a lack of clarity as to whether individuals can be executed for crimes committed while younger than 18 years old.

The Special Rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Sudan have catalogued a number of violations of the right to a fair trial (including the right to legal counsel and the right against self-incrimination), the prohibition against torture, the prohibition against inhuman treatment, and the prohibition against the execution of individuals for crimes committed as juveniles.

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Sudan took place in May 2011 and led to the following recommendations to Sudan’s Government: to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR aimed at abolishing the death penalty; to take the necessary steps to remove the death penalty from Sudan’s justice system; to establish a moratorium on all executions and, eventually, abolish the death penalty; to commute death sentences to appropriate alternative sanctions; to respect international standards regarding the death penalty, particularly to ensure that it will only be applied to the most severe crimes and to individuals who are more than 18 years of age at the time of the act; and to prohibit executions of minors pursuant to the Children’s Act of 2010. While the Government of Sudan accepted the recommendation to prohibit the application of death penalty on persons below 18 years, it did not accept the others, stating that: “In compliance with Sudan’s commitment under the ICCPR the death penalty in Sudanese laws is confined to the most serious crimes. In murder cases there is room for pardoning by the relative(s) of the deceased and in such case the death penalty will not be imposed.” Sudan also rejected the recommendations that it eliminate corporal punishment from the penal code.

Availability of Lawyers for Indigent Defendants at Trial

The National Constitution loosely provides for public defenders. The Advocates Act of 1970, paras. 37-39, introduced a system of legal aid, whereby an advocate may be appointed to represent an accused at the request of the Ministry of Justice, the costs being ultimately paid from the budget of the Attorney General. In any other case, the advocate shall provide legal aid free of cost, but may be paid by the Bar Association out of the Social Security fund. By the end of our research, we could not locate a copy of the Act, and we have no information on its implementation.

According to the U.S. Department of State, indigent individuals facing capital charges have the right to state-funded representation. However, the Department observes that in the North, antiterrorism courts did not allow pre-trial access to attorneys. In areas not controlled by government forces, normal court procedures and protections are not enforced. Access to defense attorneys was limited in Darfur. In-country experts give a similar picture—resources are sometimes inadequate to provide attorneys, and before some courts and in some regions, attorneys are not used. Traditional settlements (such as blood money compensation for killings) may be resorted to instead of adjudication. In procedures before the Town and Rural Courts - a parallel system where justice is administered by non-lawyers -, there is no legal representation, thus no legal aid system.

In May 2012, human rights organizations reported that a young woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery did not have access to a lawyer during her trial, and that she was not assisted by an interpreter, despite the fact that she had a limited knowledge of Arabic. The court of appeals later overturned the verdict, due to the lack of legal representation at trial. The woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery by a court in Khartoum on July 10, 2012, did not have access to a lawyer either.

Availability of Lawyers for Indigent Defendants on Appeal

We did not find reports or law guaranteeing the right to state-funded representation on appeal in Sudan; the U.S. Department of State did not specify whether the legal aid available at trial extends to the appeals process.

Quality of Legal Representation

According to an in-country expert, Sudan interferes with representation during the investigation and at some trials; this is likely to affect the quality of legal representation. Additionally, the government pays far less for an indigent’s attorney than the fee a good attorney would require. Lawyers are prevented from rendering effective representation before antiterrorism courts, as they are not permitted to consult with or advise their clients prior to trial. According to Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, in 2009 at least one attorney was subjected to incommunicado detention without charge, solely for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender in opposition to torture. Additionally, it should be mentioned that, in procedures before the Town and Rural Courts--a parallel system where justice is administered by non-lawyers--there is no legal representation, thus no legal aid system. According to an article by John Wuol Makec, a judge of the Supreme Court of Sudan, the legal aid system is, in practice, not accessible for every accused person in need of assistance. He lists the following set of causes for this problem: the concentration of attorneys and of legal aid authorities in major cities, with prejudice to legal representation in rural areas and small towns, even for persons who would be able to afford it; the shortage of attorneys in the country; the population’s lack of awareness of the existence of a legal aid system; the attitude of legal aid officials, which undermines the proper selection of cases of indigence; the insufficiency of legal aid budgets; and the nonexistence of legal representation in procedures before Town and Rural Courts.

Appellate Process

We did not find the Sudan Code of Criminal Procedure, although we do know that in 2007 the Human Rights Committee expressed concern that it does not adequately protect rights as required by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The National Constitution establishes a Constitutional Court; all appeals on human rights issues or on a constitutional issue regarding the National Constitution or the constitution of any state lie ultimately to the Constitutional Court. The National Supreme Court is required to review death sentences imposed by any court under National law; and lower Appellate courts are established. In practice, a General Court may adjudicate a capital offense, from which an appeal lies to the Appellate Court established for the geographical area. The Supreme Court may review the Appellate Court’s decision regardless of whether it is for or against the defendant. Appeals are not necessarily made to the Constitutional Court, which is not required to hear an appeal. According to the U.S. Department of State, military courts tried military personnel and did not provide a right to appeal. The Department did not specify whether those tried before antiterrorism courts have a right to appeal. While at least one individual convicted of and executed for treason and terrorism did appeal to the Constitutional Court, cases we know were tried before the special antiterrorism courts were not reported to involve an appeal. In Abyei, no real higher judicial authority exists, and defendants cannot be assured of any right to appeal. In Darfur, a shattered judiciary may, in some regions, not function adequately to provide access to appeals.

Clemency Process

The National Constitution provides for a Presidential clemency power “according to this Constitution and the national law.” Under the Sudan Criminal Act of 1991, the power of pardon is extremely limited—hudud and retributive penalties cannot be remitted; only ta’zir penalties can be remitted or pardoned. Thus, for penalties that Sudan’s courts interpret as religiously prescribed hudud (claims of Allah) or retribution (claims of kin), there can be no executive pardon. Pardon is possible for retributive penalties, but pardon is the prerogative of the victim’s family, not the President, and can be dependent on fulfilling a demand for blood money compensation. We found no description of the process for applying for or granting a pardon or remission of a ta’zir penalty.

Availability of jury trials

There is no jury trial in Sudan.

Systemic Challenges in the Criminal Justice System

In Sudan, two parallel justice systems exist: the formal system, administered in the state courts by professional judges, and another system of Town and Rural Courts administered by non-lawyers appointed from among members of the localities. In the latter system, members of the court are likely to be faced with “divided loyalties which may affect their ability to deliver qualitative justice”: although they are bound to apply the Criminal Act of 1991, they tend to be lay persons who believe in the legitimacy of customary law, which in many respects is contrary to State laws. This concern is aggravated by the fact that in these courts there is no legal representation of the accused.

As of May 2010, Sudan’s criminal justice system was under serious stress. In some areas of Sudan, traditional courts presided over by individuals with little or no legal understanding tried serious offenses, and representation was usually not used before these or other courts. In Abyei, which is claimed by South Sudan but currently under the control of Sudan, traditional courts try serious offenses including murder and rape without any supervision by a higher court or any use of codified law. In Darfur, institutions are seriously stressed despite a reduction in the level of violence, some areas are left without judicial institutions even when highly populated, and the availability of legal aid is seriously deficient, in part because the government has shut down NGOs that were providing legal aid. The government has instituted some new programs and training in Darfur. In the North, reports do not focus on inadequate resources, instead focusing on the state’s discriminatory practices against non-Muslims, women and other intentional violations of human rights such as the right to a fair trial or the prohibition against torture.

The secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan sparked predictions that Sudan would start implementing Islamic law more strictly; and recent statements by President al-Bashir (saying that Sudan''s next constitution would be 100 percent Islamic to set an example for neighboring countries) add to those predictions.

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Amnesty International indicates that at least some death-sentenced prisoners are incarcerated in Kober prison in the capital city, Khartoum. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College, London, there are 4 federal prisons in Sudan (2002) as well as many other prison and detention facilities, and according to a news report, individuals are held under sentence of death in locations other than the capital.

Description of Prison Conditions

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College, London, prisons were at more than double occupancy by mid-2009. The U.S. Department of State reported that medical care was “primitive” and that prison officials routinely abused prisoners: “security forces held detainees incommunicado; beat them; deprived them of food, water, and toilets; and forced them to sleep on cold floors. Prisoners died from lack of health care and poor prison conditions.” Prisoners are dependent on family or other sources for food. An in-country expert reports that medical care and mental health evaluations are difficult to come by. Amnesty International reported that Ahmed Suleiman Sulman, held under sentence of death for allegedly participating in an armed attack on the capital by the Justice and Equality Movement, died in custody on October 21, 2009 of tuberculosis after “suffering from a lung infection for a long time” and being “refused access to a specialised doctor by the prison despite requests by his lawyer.” His body was still in shackles and showed physical evidence of torture. Amnesty International expressed concern that unhygienic conditions, denial of medical care and torture are endemic problems at the Kober Prison, where at least 102 death row inmates were held at the time of that report. Reportedly, men and women are held separately, while juveniles (who can be sentenced to death, despite national law) are held alongside adults. The government restricted access to prisons and, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, hid high profile prisoners during visits.

Foreign Nationals Known to Be on Death Row

We did not find reports of foreign nationals under the sentence of death.

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

We did not find reports of foreign nationals under the sentence of death.

Women Known to Be on Death Row

Yes. A 2009 letter from International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) to the government of Sudan calling for abolition of the death penalty notes that those condemned to death “include girls who have acted in self-defense when being sexually attacked.” In 2011, two young women were hanged after being convicted and sentenced to death by the Hay al-Nasr Criminal Court for stoning a child to death, allegedly in revenge over a dispute with the child''s mother, in the Al-Azhari area of Khartoum.

In May 2012, a young woman, mother of three (including a newborn baby) was sentenced to death by stoning by the Ombada Criminal Court in Khartoum State, for adultery committed by a married person (she had allegedly given birth to a child from a man other than her husband). However, after the court of appeals overturned the verdict, due to the lack of legal representation at trial, the criminal court re-tried and eventually acquitted her, based on lack of evidence, and she walked free. She had been convicted based solely on her testimony, which she gave after being beaten by her brother. On July 10, 2012, one more woman was sentenced to death by stoning by a court in Khartoum for adultery, after giving birth to a child from a man allegedly other than her husband. She was imprisoned, shackled at the ankles with her six-month old baby.

Juvenile Offenders Known to Be on Death Row

In a 2006 news report by Inter Press News Service Agency (IPS), a few lawyers in Sudan expressed skepticism that individuals can be or are executed for crimes committed as juveniles, claiming that the Arabic translation of the Constitution actually prohibits the practice (despite explicitly allowing it) and that in practice juveniles are not executed. In May 2009, an individual was executed for crimes he had committed as a juvenile after the Supreme Court held that the Constitution permitted the execution of juveniles for hudud offenses and held that the 2004 Child Act (prohibiting such an execution) was irrelevant since the boy was over the age of 15 at the time of his offense, triggering application of the conflicting 1991 Criminal Act. We do not know how the Court was able to sustain such reasoning.

Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, chronicles some recent cases of death sentences and executions for crimes committed by minors. In mid 2010, the independent reporter to the Human Rights Council observed that eight minors were detained under sentence of death in connection with the 2008 JEM attacks on the capital city, although it should be noted that the President has pledged that none of the attackers will be executed. On November 2, 2010, Amnesty International reported that 4 individuals allegedly under the age of 18 were sentenced to death; one had his sentence commuted after a medical examination confirmed he was a juvenile; officials ignored the results of another medical examination; and two individuals were not permitted to prove their ages by a medical examination. In May 2012, a young woman was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery; although some human rights groups believed her to be under the age of 18, Sudanese authorities have considered her to be 20, so her age was not assessed by the court. She was later acquitted after the court of appeals overturned the verdict.

Courts have, upon occasion, recently accepted without review police determinations of defendant’s ages based on methods such as counting teeth, checking the yellowing of teeth, checking for underarm hair, or assessing the deepness of the defendant’s voice.

Racial / Ethnic Composition of Death Row

Although there are numerous reports that address human rights abuses directed against particular ethnic groups, they do not address this particular issue. While it seems probable that antiterrorism prosecutions (which have not met international standards for fair trials) could create some ethnic disparity on death row, it is also true that the government has pledged not to execute the 106 JEM militants sentenced to death for a 2008 attack on the capital city, and has released 50 of those sentenced to death.

Recent Developments in the Application of the Death Penalty

The scope of the death penalty at law has been reduced over the past decade. In 2005, after years of civil war, Sudan and Southern Sudan promulgated parallel Constitutions as part of a peace agreement. In these constitutions, the use of the death penalty is somewhat curtailed. In 2008, Southern Sudan promulgated its own penal law with significantly fewer death eligible offenses and virtually no use of the mandatory death penalty. In some instances, this penal law may simply codify exceptions to the application of Shari’a penalties already present in the 1991 Sudan Criminal Act. However, the formal codification of Southern Sudan’s penal law was significant because it eliminated the mandatory death penalty for almost all offenses. In 2010, Sudan adopted the Child Act, which absolutely prohibits the pronouncement of death sentences upon children.

After 2006, when 65 executions were carried out, the use of the death penalty dropped significantly. Still, the status of the death penalty in practice is somewhat unclear, or, has remained constant but allegedly arbitrary during the past several years. In 2009 and 2010, individuals were executed after allegedly unfair trials for high-profile offenses such as killings in a clash between police and squatters, the group murder of a journalist, or treason and membership in anti-government or terrorist organizations (despite an amnesty). Additionally, it is unclear that laws such as the Child Act are fully or effectively enforced, and Amnesty International reported on November 2, 2010 that several alleged children had just been sentenced to death in Sudan. A U.N. report indicates that in 2009 the Supreme Court ignored the 2004 Child Act (prohibiting execution for crimes committed by juveniles) in permitting the execution of an individual for a hudud crime committed while a juvenile, although the new Child Act immediately drafted explicitly forecloses use of the loophole the Supreme Court used to deliver that ruling. The U.N. report also indicates that courts, on at least some occasions, have recently accepted without review police determinations of a defendant’s age based on methods such as counting teeth, checking for the yellowing of teeth, checking for underarm hair, or assessing the deepness of the defendant’s voice.

Finally, ongoing violence in Sudan leads to surges in the number of death sentences. In 2007, approximately 23 individuals were sentenced to death; following a 2008 terrorist attack in Khartoum, hundreds of people have been charged and convicted by special courts under the 2001 Counter-Terrorism Act; about 106 were sentenced to death in 2008 and 2009, with a few commutations or releases. In each of 2008 and 2009, there were approximately 60 death sentences pronounced by any court, suggesting almost all of the death sentences during that period are attributable to terrorism convictions. The U.S. Department of State indicates that individuals (primarily associated with the Justice and Equality Movement’s attack on the capital city in 2008) before special antiterrorism courts have no access to attorneys prior to trial and are often held incommunicado and may be tortured prior to trial; a U.N. report corroborates that these special courts allegedly permit practices that eliminate procedural safeguards and lead to arbitrary application of the death penalty.

Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2018 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2018 Cosponsor

No.

2018 Vote

Against.

.

2018 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2016 Cosponsor

No.

2016 Vote

Against.

.

2016 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2014 Cosponsor

No.

2014 Vote

Against.

.

2014 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2012 Cosponsor

No.

2012 Vote

Against.

.

2012 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2010 Cosponsor

No.

2010 Vote

Against.

.

2010 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No.

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2008 Cosponsor

No.

2008 Vote

Against.

.

2008 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

2007 Cosponsor

No.

2007 Vote

Against.

.

2007 Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other Groups and Individuals Engaged in Death Penalty Advocacy

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk.

Where are judicial decisions reported?

We did not find online resources for accessing judicial decisions; researchers may be interested in checking GlobaLex (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Sudan.htm and updates) for possibilities for research as they arise.

Helpful Reports and Publications

Ali Akram Khan Sherwani, Impact of Islamic Penal Laws on the Traditional Arab Society, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., 1993.

Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, The Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.

Eric Reeves, Why Do People Want Change in Sudan? A Barbaric Penal Code is one Reason, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3338, Jul. 16, 2012.

Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, International Law Institute, 1997.

John Wuol Makec, Legal Aid and its Problems in the Sudan, in Access to Justice in Africa and Beyond: Making the Rule of Law a Reality, Penal Reform International and Bluhm Legal Clinic of the Northwestern University School of Law, 2007.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Death Penalty, Mercy and Islam: A Call for Retrospection, p. 73-105 in Erik C. Owens, et. al., eds., Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning, Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2004.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12 No. 3, p. 269, 1997.

M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.

Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, American Trust Publications, 1982.

Muhammad Abdel Haleem et. al, Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.

Robert Postawko, Towards an Islamic Critique of Capital Punishment, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 1 p. 269, 2002.

Rodolphe J.A. De Seife, The Shari’a: An Introduction to the Law of Islam, Austin & Winfield, 1994.

S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al Islam, Translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961.

Tahir Mahmood et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st ed., 1996.

Additional notes regarding this country

The semi-autonomous region of southern Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011. Our research on Sudan incorporated southern Sudan data, whenever available, until that date. We have now created a separate entry for South Sudan.