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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Two Newest Faces of the Problem with the Lack of the Rule of Law - a Newborn and a 20-month Old

As a tangential follow-up to my previous post concerning the use of a crime against humanity charge as a way to bolster the rule of law, another heart-wrenching story is gaining international attention. 

Meet Maya, the first U.S. citizen to be born in a Sudanese prison while her mother was shackled to prison walls.  Meet Martin, Maya's twenty-month old bother, who is probably the second youngest U.S. citizen to be sitting in a Sudanese prison.  Their father is a U.S. citizen.  Their mother is Meriam Ibrahim, a doctor and a Sudanese citizen, who has been sentenced by a Sudanese court to 100 lashes for adultery because she married a non-Muslim man and to death by hanging (once Maya is weaned) for apostasy for refusing to denounce her Christian faith.  Ibrahim was found guilty of apostasy because it was determined that she was Muslim even though she testified she was Christian and raised by her Christian mother when her Muslim father abandoned the family.  The trial raises due process issues since three of Ibrahim's witnesses were not allowed to testify.  

There are clear human rights violations and violations of Sudanese law.  Ibrahim's imprisonment violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which, since Sudan has ratified the treaty, guarantees that all Sudanese citizens "have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" and due process of law.  Sudan has also ratified the African Charter on Human and People's Rights which also guarantees freedom of religion and due process.  Indeed, Sudan's own 2005 interim constitution specifically guarantees the "right and freedoms enshrined in international human rights treaties" ratified by Sudan.  Ibrahim's case (and the impact on her children) graphically illustrates the rule of law problem - the laws are in place but not enforced.

The pressure from the international community caused some movement, albeit ineffectual as it currently stands.  A few weeks ago the Sudanese government pledged Ibrahim's release, but recanted a few days later.  This probably is not surprising given the government is headed by Omar al-Bashir who has an outstanding ICC warrant for CAH for his actions in Darfur.  What can be done?  What should be done?  Perhaps with continued and more world-wide pressure (which should be headed by the U.S. given that some of the youngest U.S. citizens - Maya and Martin - are sitting in deplorable conditions), there might be another small step forward even if it simply means more discussion about and attention given to the lack of the rule of law and the consequential human rights violations of women and children.  More legal attention and monetary support should be put in place to uphold the rule of law. 

Posted by Naomi Goodno on June 13, 2014 at 05:25 PM in Criminal Law, Culture, Current Affairs, Gender, International Law, Law and Politics, Religion | Permalink

Comments

As a quick follow-up, Secretary Kerry has also just pointed out the rule of law issues. http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/06/227509.htm

Posted by: Naomi Goodno | Jun 15, 2014 1:14:38 AM

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