Sudan: Quashing of Noura Hussein death sentence must now lead to legal reform
Today’s decision by a Sudanese court to quash Noura Hussein’s death sentence and replace it with a five-year prison term for killing her husband in self-defence during an attempted rape must be a catalyst for a legal review in Sudan, said Amnesty International.
Noura Hussein was sentenced to death on 10 May 2018. Her husband, Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, suffered fatal knife wounds during a scuffle at their home after he had attempted to force himself on her with the help of three other men. The revised sentence means she will spend five years in jail from the date of her arrest and will have to make a dia (blood money) payment of 337,500 Sudanese pounds (around US$8,400).
“While the quashing of this death sentence is hugely welcome news, it must now lead to a legal review to ensure that Noura Hussein is the last person to go through this ordeal,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“Noura Hussein was the victim of a brutal attack by her husband and five years’ imprisonment for acting in self-defence is a disproportionate punishment.
“The Sudanese authorities must take this opportunity to start reforming the laws around child marriage, forced marriage and marital rape, so that victims are not the ones who are penalized.”
Noura Hussein has been held in the Omdurman Women’s Prison in Sudan since May 2017.
After fatally stabbing her husband on 3 May 2017, Noura Hussein fled to her family home, but her father handed her over to the police, who opened a case against her. A medical examination report from the fight with her husband indicated she had sustained injuries including a bite and scratches.
At her trial in July 2017, the judge applied an outdated law which did not recognize marital rape. Noura Hussein was charged under the Criminal Act (1991) and found guilty of intentional murder on 29 April 2018 at the Central Criminal Court of Omdurman.
Noura Hussein was married against her will to Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad at the age of 16. The first marriage ceremony involved the signing a marriage contract between her father and Abdulrahman. The second part of the marriage ceremony took place in April 2017, when she was forced to move into Abdulrahman’s home upon having completed high school. When she refused to consummate the marriage, Abdulrahman invited two of his brothers and a male cousin to help him rape her. Sudanese law allows children over the age of 10 to marry.