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Sudan: Corporal Punishment Incident Under Investigation

(Dec. 15, 2010) It was reported on December 12, 2010, that the Sudanese Judicial Authority ordered an investigation into the way in which a flogging sentence was carried out against a woman convicted on indecency charges (Judiciary Orders Probe Into Video of Woman Being Flogged, SUDAN TRIBUNE (Dec. 12, 2010), The investigation comes after a video surfaced that shows two police officers taking turns flogging the woman in public, while other officers cheer and torment her; it caused a public outcry (id.). A video of the incident is available on YOUTUBE ( (last visited Dec. 14, 2010)).

The probe will not look into the legality of the practice of state-sanctioned corporal punishment. The practice is legal in Northern Sudan, where the Penal Law imposes corporal punishment for certain acts including “gross indecency,” “indecent and immoral acts,” manufacturing or possession of “materials and displays contrary to public morality,” “prostitution,” and “running a place of prostitution” (The Criminal Act 1991, §151-155, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law website, (last visited Dec. 14, 2010)). These provisions are rooted in religious and cultural dogma. For instance, the provision that criminalizes indecent or immoral acts states:

Whoever commits, in a public place, an act, or conducts himself in an indecent manner, or a manner contrary to public morality, or wears an indecent, or immoral dress, which causes annoyance to public feelings, shall be punished, with whipping, not exceeding fourty [sic] lashes, or with a fine, or with both (id. § 152 (1)).

What constitutes an act contrary to public morality depends on whether it is considered as such “in the religion of the doer or the custom of the country where such act has occurred” (id.).