Update Constitutional Appeal in the case of Mariam Yahya

On 30th May 2016, the legal defense team behind the Constitutional Appeal in the case of Mariam Yahya, was ordered by the Constitutional Court, to pay court fees for the on 23rd December 2015 submitted appeal.

This payment order, gives reason to believe that the Constitutional Court acknowledges a violation of a constitutional right, whereas if proven, Article 126 of the 1991 Criminal Act, outlining the crime of Redah (Apostasy), which led to the sentencing of Mariam Yahya and legitimized the declaration of her marriage as illegitimate, could be abolished. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the case bares grounds for opening a new discussion on the freedom of religion in Sudan. SIHA highly welcomes any arising debate, which would lead to new approaches and interrogations on basic freedoms and the freedom of religion in Sudan.

The appeal is based on two main reasons firstly the trial court’s decision to convict the Appellant of adultery with her husband – who was a defendant in the same case – and the future consequences of that decision, abrogate her constitutional right to marry whom she chooses and form a family. This aspect of the decision was confirmed by the Court of Appeal despite that court acquitted the Appellant, with the Supreme National Court confirming the decision of the Court of Appeal. Secondly the content of Article 126 of the Criminal Code (1991) contravenes the explicit provisions of the Interim Constitution of the Sudan of 2005, resulting in the abrogation of the Appellant’s constitutional right to be treated equally before the law on the one hand, and her right to freedom of belief on the other hand, thus leading the Appellant to spend eight months of her life in the Omdurman Women’s Prison sentenced to death.

The legal team expects a ruling within the coming two to three months, when Sudan will stand at a crossroad, of taking turn to the acknowledgement and protection of human rights, or continue to support and back trends, which leave little room for liberty, equality, and justice.

For further information on the Constitutional appeal, you can find a case summary here or you can contact SIHA Network via sihahornofafrica@gmail.com.