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Nigeria: Another death by stoning sentence quashed

Nigeria: Another sentence to death by stoning under new Sharia penal law quashed on appeal

Amnesty International welcomes the recent decision by the Upper Sharia Court of Bauchi State in northern Nigeria to quash Jubrin Babaji's sentence of death by stoning for "sodomy".

This latest development follows a number of cases where convictions and sentences to death have been quashed on appeal, including most recently the case of Yunusa Rafin Chiyawa on 14 November 2003.

"The quashing, on appeal, of another conviction and sentence to death by stoning under the new Sharia penal legislation on the grounds that the trial was unfair, is a positive trend," Amnesty International said.

Jubrin Babaji was convicted and sentenced on 25 September 2003 for the offence termed as 'sodomy' in Section 133 of the Sharia Penal Code Law 2001 of Bauchi State. An appeal was submitted by the Nigerian non-governmental organization Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) which provided a team of defence lawyers.

According to LEDAP, the conviction was quashed on the basis of the denial of the right of Jubrin Babaji to a fair trial. The main reasons for the acquittal were based on the fact that the lower Sharia court had breached the principles of a fair hearing since Jubrin Babaji was not represented by a legal counsel. Furthermore, his alleged confession was deemed not to qualify as a confession according to new Sharia penal legislation.

Although Jubrin Babaji's conviction has been quashed, the appeal in another case involving a sentence to death by stoning against Fatima Usman and Ahmadu Ibrahim is still pending with a Sharia Court of Appeal in Minna, Niger State.

"The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, according to Amnesty International. The organization unconditionally opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases and for all crimes."

The Nigerian government should take steps to abolish the death penalty and amend legislation which provides for the death penalty as well as other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments at all levels of Nigerian legislation, including the new Sharia penal legislation.

An Amnesty International delegation met members of the National Study Group on the Death Penalty during a recent visit to Nigeria to continue the appeal for the group to recommend abolition of the death penalty and an immediate moratorium on any pending executions in its final recommendations to the Federal Government. The recommendations are due in June 2004.

View all documents on Nigeria at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maab4YAaa5se7bb0hPub/

For current and background information on the death penalty please visit the dedicated Death Penalty Pages at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maab4YAaa5se8bb0hPub/

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