GENEVA (26 June 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, strongly condemned the four executions that allegedly took place on 24 June in the State of Edo. “I also call for a halt to the possible execution of fifth man that remains at imminent risk,” Mr. Heyns said. Prior to these executions the last official application of the death penalty in Nigeria took place in 2006.
“These executions undermine previous trends towards abolishing, in law and practice, the death penalty in the country,” the Special Rapporteur said, recalling that in 2009, the Government of Nigeria 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 independent human rights expert noted that without full respect for due process guarantees, capital punishment constitutes a summary or arbitrary execution. “International law imposes stringent requirements that must be met before the death penalty may be imposed,” he said.
“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.
“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.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (South Africa), is a director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Mr. Heyns’ research interests include international human rights law and human rights law in Africa. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
(*) UN Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review - Nigeria (5 January 2009):
OHCHR Country Page – Nigeria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/NGIndex.aspx
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx
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