The European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning the Sudanese government for its treatment of Meriam Ibrahim and calling on the authorities to protect the religious identity of minority groups.
The joint resolution, unanimously passed Thursday night, underlined that the government of President Omar al-Bashir had breached a number of international accords to which Sudan is a signatory, and that its treatment of Ibrahim was “emblematic” of a “worrying crackdown” by the Sudanese authorities against minorities and other groups.
Meriam Ibrahim, a Catholic, was sentenced to death May 15 unless she “repented” or renounced her faith, causing an international outcry. While imprisoned and in shackles, she gave birth to a baby boy. Ibrahim was freed last month, then almost immediately re-arrested, and then freed again. She has since sought refuge in the U.S. embassy, together with her husband Daniel who is a U.S. citizen.
The resolution notes it is “degrading and inhumane” for a pregnant woman to give birth while chained and physically detained, and calls on the Sudanese authorities “to ensure that all pregnant women and labouring women in detention receive appropriate and safe maternal and newborn health care.”
The European Parliament resolution begins by saying it “condemns the unjustified detention of Meriam Ibrahim” and calls on the government of Sudan “to repeal all legislation that discriminates on grounds of gender or religion and to protect the religious identity of minority groups.”
Reaffirming that freedom of religion, conscience or belief is a universal human right that needs to be protected everywhere and for everyone, the European Parliament resolution “strongly condemns all forms of violence and intimidation that impair the right to have or not to have, or to adopt, a religion of one’s choice, including the use of threats, physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to renounce their religion or to convert.”
The resolution makes a point of recalling that Sudan has ratified the relevant UN and African Union conventions and thus has an “international obligation to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief, which includes the right to adopt, change or abandon one’s religion or belief of one’s own free will.”
It further demands that the Sudanese government “repeal any legal provisions that penalise or discriminate against individuals for their religious beliefs or for changing their religion or beliefs or for inducing others to change their religion or beliefs, especially when cases of apostasy, heterodoxy or conversion are punishable by death.”
Such laws, it says, are “inconsistent” with Sudan’s 2005 Interim Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it urges Sudan to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty.
The resolution also notes with concern further human rights violations and calls for “urgent legal reform in order to protect fundamental human rights and freedoms, ensure the protection of every individual’s human rights and address, in particular, discrimination against women, minorities and disadvantaged groups.”