Nigeria: Clarity on Amina Lawal and cruel punishments urgently needed

Amina Lawal, who in August this year appealed against a death sentence for adultery and still awaits a date for her hearing, has become the subject of conflicting statements by the Nigerian authorities. Amnesty International is concerned that Amina Lawal and others in Nigeria facing cruel punishments remain at great risk.

Amnesty International UK Communications Director Richard Bunting said:

'The Nigerian government's 'double speak' over the Amina Lawal case is adding confusion to a situation that is already profoundly troubling.

The federal government seems to have deliberately delivered contradictory speeches for internal and international audiences. Despite reassurances by President Obasanjo, the Nigerian government is still failing to take effective measures to ensure that new Shari'a penal legislation is in line with the Nigerian constitution and the country's obligations under international human rights law.'

Background

President Obasanjo, who has on several recent occasions stated his opposition to the application of the death penalty in his country, said in a public appearance on 1 October that 'we cannot imagine or envisage a Nigerian being stoned to death ... it has never happened. And may it never happen.'

However, on 4 November Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido was reported as defending the use of Shari'a law without clarifying whether his government opposed new penal codes leading to sentences clearly in breach of the Nigerian constitution and to Nigeria's obligations under international human rights law.

Related Amnesty International information:

'Nigeria: Couple sentenced to stoning' , press release (30 August 2002)

'Nigeria: Death by stoning upheld in the case of Amina Lawal' press release (19 August 2002)

'Nigeria: Amina Lawal must not face death by stoning' press release (30 May 2002)

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