Trial of Sudanese activists charged with ‘indecent behaviour’ postponed

Sudan Tribune

November 21, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The trial of two Sudanese activists, are at risk of flogging for alleged ‘indecent behaviour’ has been postponed until 26 November.

Najlaa Mohammed Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist, and Amin Senada, also an activist, were arrested on 21 October in Port Sudan after they were found to be travelling in the same car together.

According to Amnesty International (AI), members of Sudan’s police and security forces took the pair into custody after accusing Senada of placing his hand on Ali’s shoulder. It said officers had threatened to use force if they refused to comply.

The arresting officers later claimed they had found them kissing in the car, charging both with ‘indecent behaviour’ under Article 152 of Sudan’s 1991 Criminal Code.

Their trial had been scheduled to take place on 13 November, but the judge postponed the hearing to give the court more time to consider the case.

If convicted, Ali and Senada could be sentenced to up to 40 lashes.

AI says it is concerned the charge is in response to Ali’s political activism, including her participation in country-wide demonstrations that erupted during September this year after the Sudanese government cut fuel subsidies.

It has called on Sudanese authorities to drop the charges against Ali and Senada “immediately and unconditionally”.

It has also called for flogging to be abolished, saying it amounts to a cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment.

Article 152 comes under Sudan’s broader public order law (POL), which allows the imposition of corporal punishment for what is seen as immoral behaviour.

Being in the company of a male who is not a close relative, failure to cover the hair, public displays of affection between the sexes, dressing provocatively and premarital sex are all grounds for flogging under the law.

Sudan’s POL has come under increased scrutiny recently following a high profile case against female activist Amira Osman Hamed, who is facing a flogging sentence after being charged with dressing indecently for not covering her hair with a headscarf. The case has yet to be heard, having been repeatedly delayed by the court.

Earlier this month, UN independent experts said women were particularly vulnerable to flogging punishments for so called moral crimes due to rampant gender discrimination and unfair application of the law.