UN expert urges halt to potential execution of Nigerian after death penalty moratorium broken

UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

26 June 2013 – Warning that a prisoner in Nigeria is in imminent danger, an independent United Nations expert is today urging a stop to his possible execution just days after the country broke its seven year moratorium on the death penalty and apparently executed four prisoners.

“These executions undermine previous trends towards abolishing, in law and practice, the death penalty in the country,” UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said in a statement.

“I am concerned that capital punishment appears to have been imposed without due process safeguards in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria acceded to on 29 July 1993,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.

He added that without full respect for due process guarantees, capital punishment constitutes a summary or arbitrary execution.

The independent UN expert also noted that the Government of Nigeria had in 2009 reaffirmed its commitment to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty when the situation of human rights in the country was studied under the UN Universal Periodic Review.

The Geneva-based Council's Periodic Review subjects each country's human rights record to a State-led peer examination on the basis of information submitted by the country concerned, UN entities, civil society and other stakeholders.

“I call on the Government of Nigeria to refrain from executing further individuals and to return to the moratorium on the use of death penalty in the country,” Mr. Heyns said.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.


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