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Sudan: prisoners convicted as children await execution or a miracle

14 3 27
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In mid-2017, Abbas Nur called his father, Mohammed, and said: "Dad, the prison administration has started the procedures for my execution. They measured the size of my neck and my weight. They will execute Fadl Al-Mawla tomorrow, and afterwards, I will be executed."

In mid-2021 Nur and three of his fellow inmates are still awaiting execution for "crimes" committed and for which they were convicted when they were under 18 years old; when they were legally children. The death sentence remains in clear violation of Sudan's Child Act 2010.

Mudthar Al-Reeh, Fadl Al-Mawla, Ahmad Jibril and Abbas Nur were all convicted and sentenced to death for murder under Article 130 of Sudan's 1991 Criminal Act. So far, efforts to overturn the sentence have failed. They have spent years behind bars in harsh conditions, including being kept alongside adults.

Nur's life changed forever on 27 August 2013 when he stabbed a boy to death during a fight in his neighbourhood. He was 15 years old at the time. He was held under tight security in Rufaa police station in the central Sudanese state of Al-Jazirah. On 7 January 2014, he appeared before a court to face charges. On 2 September that same year, his case was transferred to the Court of Appeal that ruled that he should be treated as an adult.

His lawyer, Taha Fadl Taha, who is defending Nur and the other three, said that their cases are "the strangest in Sudanese courts in terms of violations and extreme injustice." Taha is a member of Al-Insaf Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in Khartoum. "Abbas violated the law when he was 15 years old, and the court sentenced him a year later to death by hanging, in violation of local and international laws," he explained.

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According to his father, Nur got into a fight with a friend while playing football in Wad Madani in central Sudan. "The fighting escalated and Abbas stabbed his friend to death."

The trial court demanded Nur's transfer to Dar Al-Tadbeer youth detention centre in Khartoum, but the later Court of Appeal decision to treat him as an adult meant that he could face the death penalty.

In its decision no. 355/2014, the Criminal Department at the Supreme Court explained the Court of Appeal's move: "The Sudan Child Act 2010 stipulated in Article 4 that the age of [adult responsibility] is 18 years old. [However], the Supreme Court has decided in recent precedents that an adult as defined by Article 3 of the 1991 Criminal Act is in fact the accurate definition which must be adhered to considering that the Criminal Act is based on Islamic sharia provisions which rely on the appearance of characteristics or signs of puberty when determining the age of the person."

The death sentences handed down to the four who were children when the crimes were committed pushed human rights organisations to launch a campaign against the execution of children. Protests were held outside the judiciary headquarters in Khartoum during the trials. Campaigners called for the death sentences to be overruled, and succeeded in convincing the authorities to remove the handcuffs and leg chains from the children in prison. Like all of those sentenced to death, the children were handcuffed and kept in fetters because the Sudanese........

© Middle East Monitor


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