17 April 2009
GENEVA -- Five United Nations human rights experts* strongly condemn the execution of nine men following an unfair trial in Sudan. “It is with great regret and dismay that we have learned about the execution of the defendants who were found guilty of having committed the murder of newspaper editor Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed,” said Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrillo, the Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of arbitrary detention around the globe, issued a legal opinion in November 2008 in which it raised serious questions about the fairness of the trial of the accused who belong to the Fur tribe of the Darfur region of Sudan. They were held in detention for up to four months without contact with the outside world and still bore visible signs of torture when they appeared in court. “No judicial system, and in particular, the judicial system of a country that ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 18 March 1986, can consider as valid a confession obtained under torture and revoked before a court, and a sentence based on such confession,” the Working Group stated in its opinion.
Several mandate holders of the Human Rights Council had appealed to the Sudanese Government to stay the execution until all fair trial related concerns were dispelled in their entirety, or the men were given a new trial or released.
“We cannot sit in judgement about whether the defendants were guilty of the gruesome murder of Mr. Mohamed Ahmed. However, in cases involving capital punishment the slightest doubt cast on whether due process has been followed makes an execution inadmissible. This follows from the irreversibility of the death penalty,” Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, added.
The nine men – Ishag Al Sanosi Juma, Abdulhai Omer Mohamed Al Kalifa, Mustafa Adam Mohamed Suleiman, Mohamed Abdelnabi Adam, Saber Zakaria Hasan, Hasan Adam Fadel, Adam Ibrahim Al Haj, Jamal Al Deen Issa Al Haj, and Abdulmajeed Ali Abdulmajeed – were sentenced to death in November 2007, although they revoked their confessions alleging they had been obtained under duress. Requests by the defendants and their lawyers for a medical examination were rejected. An appeal court and the Sudanese Supreme Court upheld the verdict. The Constitutional Court dismissed their final appeal denying any violations of constitutional rights during the proceedings. All men were hanged in a Khartoum prison on 13 April 2009.
* The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Ms. Manuela Carmena Castrillo, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Mr. Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, Dr. Sima Samar, and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Manfred Nowak.