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EU Parliament calls on Sudan to overturn Noura’s death sentence

June 3, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The European Parliament called on the Sudanese government to commute the death sentence on Noura Hussein and requested the EU Commission to observe human rights when it engages cooperation projects in Sudan.

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European flags are seen outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels (Reuters Photo)

Last May, a Sudanese court sentenced Noura Hussein, 19 years, to death for killing her husband who raped her following a forced marriage. Her husband’s family refused to accept financial compensation.

The case raised international solidarity with the teenager female who had been forced into marriage at the age of 16. Also, it shed again the light on the difficult woman situation particularly Sudan remain among few countries that refuse to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly.

The European Parliament "Deplores and condemns the sentencing to death of Noura Hussein Hammad; calls on the Sudanese authorities to commute the death sentence and fully take into account the fact that Ms Hussein was acting in self-defence against the attempt by a man and his accomplices to rape her," says a resolution adopted on Thursday 31 May.

It was reported the young girl had been held down by the brother of her husband, a relative and a third person to assist her husband to rape her. The next day he tried again to rape her but she stabbed him to death.

During an emergency debate on Noura Hussein situation on Thursday 31 May, the EU lawmakers pointed that the imposition of the death penalty against clear evidence of self-defence constitutes "arbitrary killing" in line with the international standards.

While Hussein’s lawyers have formally appealed the ruling, an international campaign to get the sentence overturned received over million signatures in addition to the support of high-profile figures including actors Mira Sorvino, Emma Watson and Rose McGowan, model Naomi Campbell and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The EU Parliament recalled that the government of Sudan has the obligation to guarantee a fair trial and to take the necessary measures to ensure Hussein’s protection.

The resolution called on the Sudanese government to ratify the Convention against Torture (CAT) and CEDAW.

Furthermore it "strongly requests that the EU and its Member States ensure that the implementation of projects with the Sudanese authorities observe the ‘do no harm’ principle, which would rule out cooperation with actors responsible for human rights violations".

The EU is currently funding EUR 275 million - projects in Sudan, through the European Development Fund (EDF), the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and the Instrument contributing to Security and Peace.

Khartoum also hopes that the EU resumes its development and economic support to Sudan which has been stopped after the coup d’etat that brought general Omer al-Bashir to power in June 1989.

CONTINUING WORRY

Speaking at the EU Parliament urgency debate, European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management Christos Stylianides, expressed concern over the case, adding that the human rights situation in Sudan "constitutes a continuing worry" for the European Union.

The case of young lady "brings to the forefront many of the country’s complex and interrelated human rights problems ranging from sexual violence, child and forced marriage to the continuing use of capital punishment," he stressed.

Stylianides who was in Khartoum in October 2017 pledged to continue to closely follow the case of Noura and raise it with the Sudanese authorities.

"The EU will continue to make use of the different means at our disposal to promote and protect girls’ and women’s human rights in Sudan," he further said.

He welcomed a statement by the Sudanese Minister of Justice last week to ratify the CEDAW.

(ST)