NIGERIA: AMINA LAWAL MUST NOT FACE DEATH BY STONING

Amina Lawal was charged with adultery and sentenced to stoning to death on 22 March 2002 by a Sharia Court in Katsina State in northern Nigeria. Her appeal was originally scheduled for 27 May 2002, but was postponed by a week.

'We have continually asked the Nigerian authorities not to introduce punishments which amount to ill-treatment and torture under new laws based on Sharia,' said Amnesty International. 'The new Sharia Penal Codes as they are currently enacted and practised puts Nigerian citizens at risk of discrimination on grounds of gender, religious belief and social status.'

Safiya Husseini, another Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning, was recently acquitted by a Sharia Court of Appeal, after a sustained campaign by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations and individuals from all over the world. Several northern states in Nigeria have now introduced new penal codes based on Sharia law, opening the door for the application of death sentences, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments.

'The Nigerian authorities at state and federal level have the responsibility to ensure that international human rights standards prohibiting the death penalty, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are respected in any legislation enacted in Nigeria,' said Amnesty International.

The Amnesty International Merton group has an online petition, which is calling for an end to inhumane and cruel sentences in Nigeria, and for its government to ensure human rights for all its citizens. The petition has secured 5,430 signatures from 74 different countries. Sign the Petition

Background

Amina Lawal, a 30-year-old Muslim woman, was sentenced to death by a Sharia court at Bakori in Katsina State in northern Nigeria. She allegedly confessed to having had a child while divorced. Pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to the new Sharia-based penal code for Muslims, introduced in Katsina State. The man named as the father of her baby girl reportedly denied having sex with her and his confession was enough for the charges against him to be discontinued.

Amina Lawal did not have a lawyer during her first trial, when the judgement was passed. But she has now filed an appeal against her sentence with the help of a lawyer hired by a pool of Nigerian human rights and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's rights organisations. Amina Lawal's lawyer has also asked for the reviewing of her bail conditions.

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