SIHA STATEMENT, 27 MAY 2014
Sentenced on 15 May 2014 to one-hundred public lashings and execution by hanging on baseless charges of adultery and apostasy, Meriam Ibrahim, who remains in shackles in Omdurman Women’s Prison in Khartoum, gave birth last night to a baby girl.
As Meriam has just given birth, the situation has become more urgent. Last night, SIHA was informed that Meriam had given birth under atrocious conditions, having been denied any medical attention besides that of a mid-wife selected by the prison authorities. Today, authorization to make a pre-arranged visit to Meriam by her lawyers and husband was revoked without reason at the prison gate. Prison guards permitted the leaving-behind of some food and clothes for Meriam at the gates, and commented that she is ‘fine’ and that she was provided by the mid-wife with an anti-biotic. SIHA reasonably argues that Meriam’s current situation following childbirth are far from ‘fine’ given the treatment which Meriam has received thus far, including shackling, denial of food, beatings, and aggressive interrogation. Add to this the denial of medical care and face-to-face visits with family and legal assistance providers, and the direness of the situation is clear.
This denial of medical care raises particular concern for SIHA. The World Health Organization (WHO) has indentified post-natal care during the six weeks following childbirth as ‘essential’ to maternal and child recovery, and have demonstrated that the vast majority of maternal and infant deaths occur during this period in the absence of proper post-natal care. SIHA is deeply concerned that the prison authorities will continue to deny access to medical care, nutritional supplementation and post-natal care, and face-to-face visits by family and legal aid officials to Meriam and her now two incarcerated children. These denials threaten not only Meriam’s ability to appeal her sentence in court but also her immediate health and that of her two children, particularly the newborn girl.
Therefore, SIHA is calling on the Sudan Ministry of Justice to allow complete access of medical practitioners and legal advisors to assist Meriam and her children in line with international treaty-based law. Further, Mr. Daniel Wani, Meriam’s husband, must be granted his rightful face-to-face access to his wife and children, a necessity for the preservation of Meriam and her children’s dignity and psychological well-being. SIHA urgently requests Sudanese authorities to deliver of Sudanese constitutional and international treaty-based human rights protections guaranteed to detained persons like Meriam and her children.
The core demand that SIHA has made clearly over the last month remains the same: Meriam and her children must be immediately released from Sudanese custody, pardoned by the Sudanese Criminal Court of the charges of adultery (Art. 146, 1991 Criminal Code) and apostasy (Art. 126, 1991 Criminal Code), and guaranteed the lifting of the punishments of public flogging and execution handed down by the Criminal Court. Additionally, meeting the need for qualified medical attention and face-to-face contact with family and legal aid providers are viewed by SIHA as essential preconditions to Meriam’s rightful participation in the legal process, as they contribute to the preservation of Meriam and her family’s health and well-being as well as the filing of an eventual appeal to what SIHA finds a wrongful sentence to public flogging and death by hanging.