Editorial: In a civilized society, not even the most vicious crimes justify a death sentence

It is soul-bruising to contemplate the torture that 10-year-old Anthony Avalos endured in his Lancaster home for more than a week before dying last year. Whippings with a looped cord and belt. Repeatedly held upside down then dropped on his head. Getting slammed into pieces of furniture and against the floor. Hot sauce poured on his face and mouth.
The road map of the abuse stretched from head to toe on his small malnourished body — bruises, abrasions, scabs and cuts visible on the outside. Traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage on the inside. All allegedly perpetrated by his mother, Heather Barron, and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva.
RELATED | California: Prosecutors seeking death penalty in Anthony Avalos torture case
If ever a set of circumstances called for the death penalty, this would be it. Few were surprised when Los Angeles County prosecutors said Wednesday that if the couple is convicted of the torture-murder, the jury will be asked to recommend a death sentence.
Such ca…

URGENT APPEAL for woman sentenced to death by stoning in Sudan

A 20-year old Sudanese woman was sentenced to death by stoning on 13 May, on charges of adultery. She did not have access to a lawyer during her trial, and was convicted based on testimony she gave after being beaten by her brother. She is being detained with her baby. She in psychological distress and does not understand the nature of her sentence.

The criminal court of Ombada, Khartoum state, central Sudan sentenced Intisar Sharif Abdallah to death by stoning on 13 May on charges of adultery, under article 146 of Sudan's criminal code of 1991. She had initially pleaded not guilty, but admitted to the charges at a later hearing after she was reportedly beaten by her brother. The conviction was based solely on this testimony. During her trial, Intisar Sharif Abdallah was denied access to a lawyer. She also had no access to an interpreter, despite the fact that she has a limited knowledge of Arabic, which is not her native language.

Intisar Sharif Abdallah, who has three children, is being detained with her youngest son, who is four months old. Her two other children are in the custody of her family. It is unclear when the authorities intend on carrying out the sentence. Members of Intisar Sharif Abdallah's family are in the process of filing an appeal at the Court of Appeals of Ombada. The death sentence was imposed in violation of international law standards, and an execution would violate both international and Sudanese law.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to stop the execution of Intisar Sharif Abdallah; to overturn her stoning sentence for "adultery while married" and release her immediately and unconditionally;
- Urging the government to have the best interests of Intisar Sharif Abdallah's child as their primary consideration during the judicial process and until she is released;
- Stressing that under international law the execution of people after a trial that does not meet international fair trial standards is a violation of the right to life, and the execution of nursing mothers is likewise prohibited under international law;
- Calling on the Sudan government to establish an official moratorium on executions in the country, with a view to abolish the death penalty, in line with the growing global trend and UN General Assembly resolutions, and urging the President to commute all existing death sentences.


HE Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
People's Palace
PO Box 281
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Salutation: Your Excellency

Chief Justice
Jalal al-Din Mohammed Osman
Ministry of Justice
Al-Jamha Street
Khartoum state 931
Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to:
John Ukec Lueth Ukec
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202 338 8565
Fax: 1 202 667 2406

Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if sending appeals after the above date.

Amnesty International believes that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is a state party.

The method of execution by stoning in particular is a violation of the prohibition of torture as contained in the UDHR, the ICCPR, and the Convention against Torture, to which Sudan is a signatory. It is clear that the punishment of stoning is designed to cause the victim grievous pain before leading to death. Such methods of execution specifically designed to increase the suffering of victims are of particular concern to Amnesty International, as an extreme and cruel form of torture, which is expressly prohibited by the ICCPR. The UN Human Rights Committee, which is the international body overseeing the implementation of the ICCPR, has called for the abolition in law of the penalty of death by stoning. It urged all states that still maintain the death penalty "to ensure that any application of particularly cruel or inhuman means of execution, such as stoning, be stopped immediately".

While international human rights law does not absolutely prohibited death penalty, it specifically prohibits death sentences resulting from unfair trials as well as the execution of nursing mothers. The Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of Those Facing the Death Penalty, adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1984, state that the death penalty shall not be carried out on new mothers. Resolution 2005/59 of the UN Commission on Human Rights also urges states that retain the death penalty to exclude mothers with dependent infants from capital punishment. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has stated that "international law prohibits the capital punishment of … mothers of young children." The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women, adopted by the African Union in 2003, and to which Sudan is also a signatory, prohibits the carrying out of death sentences on nursing women. Article 36(3) of the 2005 Interim Constitution of Sudan states: "No death penalty shall be executed upon pregnant or lactating women, save after two years of lactation."

Amnesty International opposes the criminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults. The organization considers people who are held solely for consensual sexual relations, to be prisoners of conscience. Under international law, the death penalty is only allowed for the "most serious crimes". Resolution 2005/59 urges all retentionist states to "ensure also that the notion of 'most serious crimes' does not go beyond intentional crimes with lethal or extremely grave consequences and that the death penalty is not imposed for … sexual relations between consenting adults". The UN Special Rapporteur has stated that the restrictions set out in the UN Safeguards exclude actions primarily related to prevailing moral values, such as adultery.

Name: Intisar Sharif Abdallah (f)
Issue(s): Imminent execution, Arbitrary arrest

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This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.

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Fax: 202.675.8566

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