Sudan’s Deputy Chief Justice recently made the alarming announcement that his government might start training judges to cut off the hands and legs of convicted criminals, if doctors refuse to carry out amputations as punishment.
Abdul Rahman Sharfi said non-cooperation over the use of such amputations would be punished.
Adopting a defiant posture, he denied his government had ever stopped the use of one of the most severe forms of “hudud” punishments, which are based on an interpretation of Islamic law.
Sharfi revealed that 16 people had been subjected to amputations since 2001, although the first reported case was that of Adam al-Muthna, 30, whose right hand and left foot were amputated by three doctors on 14 February.
Al-Muthna had been found guilty of highway robbery.
The amputation prompted a public outcry, particularly by the Sudanese Doctors’ Union, which complained that doctors were horrified to have to break the Hippocratic Oath — to protect patients, and not harm them — in order to comply with government orders.
Amputations are just one form of cruel punishment carried out in Sudan.
Since 2005 thousands have been sentenced on counts of adultery, which carries the punishment of flogging, and, in some cases, stoning.
Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul was 23 years old and the mother of a six-month-old infant when she was sentenced to death by stoning on counts of adultery by a Sudanese judge last July.
He didn’t mind that she didn’t have a lawyer to defend herself, or that she didn’t understand what “stoning” meant.
The second woman to be sentenced to death by stoning in 2012, she spent two months shackled, alone with her baby, in Omdurman prison, near the capital Khartoum.
Both women were eventually released on appeal, following intense campaigns by Sudanese and international human rights organizations on their behalf.
Others, though, are less fortunate.
Almost every day in Sudan, someone is given 20 to 100 lashes on a court order for minor offenses, and following a summary trial. Many such floggings are carried out in public.