Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Sudan: Court Sentences Woman to Death for Converting to Christianity

(May 21, 2014) On May 15, 2014, a first instance court in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum ruled against a Christian woman and imposed a punishment of 100 lashes and the death penalty after finding her guilty of adultery and apostasy. Islamic law considers the marriage of a Muslim woman to a Christian man to be a void marriage and labels it adultery. Before the court rendered its decision, the judge appointed an Islamic cleric to try to persuade the convicted woman to denounce Christianity and readopt the Islamic faith. (Death Penalty Against a Sudanese Woman for Adopting Christianity [in Arabic], ELAPH (May 15, 2014).)

Article 126 of the Sudanese Penal Code, on apostasy, provides that any Muslim who declares publicly that he/she adopts any religion other than Islam commits the crime of apostasy. Article 126(2) punishes individuals who commit this crime with the death penalty. However, article 126(3) waives the death penalty if the convicted person reconverts to Islam. (Penal Code of Sudan (1991) [in Arabic], World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website (last visited May 19, 2014).)

The court also found the woman guilty of adultery, under articles 145 and 146 of the Penal Code, for marrying a Christian man. Article 145 states that any woman or man having an extra-marital relationship commits the offense of adultery. Article 146(1)(b) provides that the punishment for individuals found guilty of having committed adultery is 100 lashes. (Id.)

In response to the court’s decision, the defense attorney declared that he will file an appeal before the appellate court. He also announced that the decision violates article 6 of the Sudanese Constitution of 2005 on state protection of religious rights. (Interim Sudanese Constitution of 2005 [in Arabic], WIPO website (last visited May 19, 2014).)