A 20-year-old Sudanese woman has been reportedly sentenced to death by stoning after being convicted of adultery.

Police arrested Maryam Alsyed Tiyrab in Sudan's White Nile state in June. She was found guilty of adultery by a court on June 26.

Human rights activists continue to fight against the penalty as it violates domestic and international law. "The application of the death penalty by stoning for the crime of adultery is a grave violation of international law, including the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," said The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), based in Uganda. They added how Tiyrab was not given a fair trial and was not informed that the details she gave during interrogation would be used against her. Additionally, she was denied access to a lawyer.

Many groups and activists in Africa fear that the sentence of stoning marks the government's attempts to roll back women's rights. "The death by stoning case is a reminder that the criminal law reforms during the transition [government] were not complete, and that such harsh, archaic punishments are still officially on the books," human rights lawyer Jehanne Henry said. She also added that the sentence "shows that harsh Sharia laws [and] penalties are still being implemented in Sudan." Human rights groups are protesting for Tiyrab's immediate release.

Tiyrab also confirmed that she is appealing the court decision. Most stoning sentences, predominantly against women, are overturned in the high court, giving hope that Tiyrab's case would be canceled like others. The last known case of a woman sentenced to stoning for adultery was in South Kordofan in 2013. The sentence as well was overturned.

Sudan uses Sharia as its legal structure; people convicted of Hudud crimes, such as theft, highway robbery, adultery and apostasy, can have their hands and feet cut off, be flogged or even killed by the state. Stoning is still practiced in several Sharia states, including Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

In 2020, Sudan's transitional government officially announced reforms to some hardline criminal laws and Sharia policies. The reforms did not include stoning, but in August, the country approved the United Nations convention against torture. The ACJPS firmly believe that stoning was a form of state-sanctioned torture and was in breach of the country's human rights responsibilities.

Judge's Gavel
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