My colleague Ian Lucas and I wrote to Baroness Warsi about this horrific case on Friday. Here’s our letter:
The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi
Senior Minister of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
16 May 2014
Dear Baroness Warsi
Re: Freedom of religion in Sudan
You will no doubt be as shocked as we are to hear of the decision of a court in Sudan to sentence an eight months pregnant Christian woman to death by hanging for apostasy and to 100 lashes for ‘adultery’.
Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag is currently being held in detention with her 20 month old son. Her death sentence was confirmed yesterday after she was given three days to recant her religion but refused.
Amnesty International has declared Meriam to be a prisoner of conscience and described the sentence as “appalling and abhorrent”. News of the sentence has already attracted widespread condemnation from around the world.
The court has said that the death penalty will not be carried out until two years after her child is born, and the flogging will be carried out when she has had a chance to recover from the birth. We understand that she will be appealing to a higher court, but we would contest that it is the responsibility of the Sudanese government to step in and stop this.
We are writing to you to ask what representations the British government is making on this issue to the Sudanese authorities, and what steps are being taken to help secure the immediate release of Meriam and her child.
Meriam must be free to continue her family life, and to follow the religion she chooses, without fear of punishment or persecution.
We know that you have declared that protecting the freedom of religion or belief is a priority for you in your role as Human Rights Minister, and hope that you will be able to give this dreadful case your immediate attention.
We look forward to hearing from you.