Sudanese doctors participate in punitive amputations

Michael Cook
2 Mar 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Credible sources in Sudan have reported that government doctors amputated a man's right hand and left foot in Khartoum on February 14, in violation of an absolute prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments, human rights groups have claimed.

Medical doctors at the Sudanese Ministry of Interior's Al Rebat Hospital carried out a cross-amputation on 30-year-old Adam Al-Muthna, carrying out a sentence for an armed robbery conviction.

"Cross amputation is a form of state-sponsored torture," said Dr Vincent Iacopino, senior medical advisor at Physicians for Human Rights. "The complicity of medical personnel in such practices represents a gross contravention of the UN Principles of Medical Ethics for health personnel, particularly medical doctors who engage, actively or passively, in acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Amputation as a form of corporal punishment was incorporated into Sudanese law in 1983 when then-President Gaffar Nimeiry introduced Islamic reforms. Although sentences imposing amputations have been handed down under those laws, this is the first known case since 2001 in which such sentences have been carried out.

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Sudan has made a commitment to an absolute ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In 1997, the UN Human Rights Committee called for Sudan to abolish flogging, amputation, and stoning because they are incompatible with Sudan's obligations under that treaty, but the government of Sudan did not comply.