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Nigeria
28.08.03
Urgent Interventions

Nigeria: Appeals court hears arguments on case of Amina Lawal

Case NGA 250302.5 VAW
Follow up to Case NGA 250302.4 VAW
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Torture / Death Penalty

Geneva, 28 August 2003

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information concerning the case of Amina Lawal who was sentenced to death by stoning by a Sharia court in Katsina State in Nigeria.

New information

According to information received, on 27 August 2003, an Islamic court of appeal in Katsina State heard arguments with respect to the appeal of Amina Lawal, who was charged with adultery in March 2002 and sentenced to death by stoning. Ms. Lawal’s appeal has been postponed multiple times since last August when a court upheld the death sentence (see OMCT appeal 250302.4 VAW). After hearing arguments, the court announced that it would issue its judgment on September 25, 2003. The judges also reaffirmed that, if convicted, Ms. Lawal, who was charged based on the birth of her child after she was divorced, should not be stoned until she has weaned her baby, Wasila, in January 2004.

If this court upholds the death sentence against Ms. Lawal, according to sources, there is still the possibility of appealing to a higher Islamic court and then to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Brief reminder of the Situation

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is deeply concerned by the sentencing to death by stoning of 31 year-old Amina Lawal.

According to information received from reliable sources, on Friday 22 March 2002, a Sharia court at Bakori in Katsina State sentenced Ms. Lawal to death after she confessed to having had a child while divorced. The man named as the father of her baby girl reportedly denied having sex with her and the charges against him were discontinued. In those Northern Nigerian states that apply Sharia law, pregnancy outside of marriage constitutes sufficient evidence to enable a woman to be convicted of adultery.

OMCT is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Amina Lawal and unreservedly condemns the use of corporal punishment which clearly violates international human rights standards that prohibit the use of torture. OMCT would like to recall that the government of Nigeria is a State Party to international human rights instruments which prohibit and punish torture including; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, Nigeria is a Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which prohibits violence and other forms of discrimination against women.

Action requested

Please write to the Nigerian authorities urging them to:

i. guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Amina Lawal and her family;

ii. take all necessary measures to secure respect for the rule of law in Nigeria which includes respect for the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, such as the practice of corporal punishment;

iii. guarantee women their human rights, including their right to be free from discrimination and their right to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment;

iv. ensure in all circumstances the full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with national and international standards.

Addresses:

· His Exellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Republic, The Presidency, Federal Secretariat, Phase II, Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja; Fax: 234 9 523 21 36 (press office), Email: president.obasanjo@nigeriagov.org

· Alhaji Sule Lamido, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maputo Street , Zone 3 Wuse District, Abuja, Nigeria ; Fax: 234 9 523 02 08.

· Kanu Godwin Agabi, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, New Federal Secretariat complex Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria; Fax:+ 234 9 5235194, 234 9 523 5208/23495230660.

· Alhaji Uman Musa Yar’adua, Governor, Office of the Military Administrator, Katsina, Katsina State, Nigeria.

· Ambassadeur, Ayewoh, Pius Ikpefuan, Rue Richard Wagner 1, CH-1211, Genève 2, Suisse, e-mail : mission.nigeria@ties.itu.int, fax: +4122 734 10 53

The Embassy of Nigeria in your respective countries.

Geneva, 28 August 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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