Nigeria: Couple sentenced to stoning

The couple, from New Gawu in Niger state were both arrested and charged with adultery following a police officer's report, which was brought to court in May this year. The initial sentence handed to Ahmadu Ibrahim and Fatima Usman was five years imprisonment with a fine of N15,000 (UKP75). The state judiciary then called for a retrial because they considered this to be a lesser punishment than was deserved.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK said:

'No offence in the world can justify a penalty of death by stoning, least of all non-violent offences like adultery.'

Their death sentences could be carried at any time. This is despite outrage both in and outside Nigeria over the death sentences now regularly handed out in Nigeria's Sharia courts. Neither seem not to have benefited from any legal representation during their trials.

Background

The new Sharia Penal Codes allow Sharia Courts to impose the death penalty even for offences which did not previously carry such a heavy punishment. Under the 'old Penal Codes' of Northern Nigeria and also the Nigerian Criminal Code applicable in Southern Nigeria, cases attracting capital punishment could only be tried by the State High Court. Under the new Sharia Penal Codes, this is no longer the case. The new Sharia Penal Codes and Sharia Codes of Criminal Procedure violate many international human rights standards ratified by Nigeria, including the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishments (CAT) and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Amnesty International unconditionally opposes the death penalty as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The use of the death penalty is incompatible with the Nigerian constitution and also with Nigeria's legal obligations under international human rights law and the African Charter for Human and People's Rights.

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