Text: S.Res.453 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Agreed to Senate (06/03/2014)

2d Session
S. RES. 453

Condemning the death sentence against Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy.


May 21, 2014

Mr. Rubio (for himself, Mr. Coons, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Inhofe, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Cruz, Mr. McCain, Mr. Vitter, Mr. Moran, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Boozman, Ms. Ayotte, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Johnson of Wisconsin, Mr. Isakson, Mr. Burr, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Coburn, Mr. Markey, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Johanns, Mr. Blunt, Ms. Collins, Mr. Cornyn, Mr. Portman, Ms. Landrieu, Mr. Franken, and Mr. Chambliss) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

June 3, 2014

Committee discharged; considered, amended, and agreed to with an amended preamble


Condemning the death sentence against Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy.

    Whereas, on May 15, 2014, a Sudanese court affirmed a sentence of death by hanging for 27-year-old Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Christian woman accused of apostasy for refusing to recant her Christian faith, and ordered her to receive 100 lashes for adultery because under Sudan’s Shari’ah law such inter-religious marriages are illegal;

    Whereas Ibrahim is being held in the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison with her newborn daughter and 20-month-old son;

    Whereas the Department of State has designated Sudan as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–292) based on the government’s systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom since 1999;

    Whereas the Sudanese 1991 Criminal Code allows for death sentences for apostasy, stoning for adultery, cross-amputations for theft, prison sentences for blasphemy, and floggings for undefined acts of “indecency”;

    Whereas, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Government of Sudan, led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom or belief, imposes a restrictive interpretation of Shari’ah law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike and, along with other National Congress Party leaders, President al-Bashir has stated that Sudan’s new constitution, when drafted, will be based on its interpretation of Shari’ah;

    Whereas, according to USCIRF, since South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011, the number and severity of harsh Shari’ah-based judicial decisions in Sudan has increased, including sentences of amputation for theft and sentences of stoning for adultery;

    Whereas the United States Government has designated Sudan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism since August 12, 1993, for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism;

    Whereas the Sudanese 2005 Interim Constitution states that “[t]he State shall respect the religious rights to (a) worship or assemble in connection with any religion or belief”;

    Whereas the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Government of Sudan has acceded, provides that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”;

    Whereas the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that, as of 2011, 10 percent of the 198 countries surveyed had apostasy laws which can, and have been, used to punish both Muslims and non-Muslims in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, and Sudan; and

    Whereas people have the right to practice their faith without fear of death or persecution: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the charge of apostasy and death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and calls for immediate and unconditional release of her and her children;

(2) encourages efforts by the United States Government to support religious freedom within Sudan, including by requiring, before normalizing relations or lifting sanctions under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105–292) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), that the Government of Sudan abide by international standards of freedom of religion or belief;

(3) urges the Government of Sudan to ensure that, when drafting the country’s new constitution, the process is transparent and inclusive of civil society leaders and representatives of all major political parties, to ensure that the new constitution includes protections for freedom of religion or belief, respect for international human rights commitments, and recognition of Sudan as a multireligious, multiethnic, and multicultural nation;

(4) recognizes that every individual regardless of religion should have the opportunity to practice his or her religion without fear of discrimination;

(5) reaffirms the commitment of the United States Government to end religious discrimination and to pursue policies that guarantee the basic human rights of all individuals worldwide; and

(6) encourages the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development to continue their support for initiatives worldwide that support religious freedom.

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