Lagos, Monday October 10 2016:
As the world today marks UN Day Against the use of Death Penalty, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) calls on the Nigerian government to take urgent steps to protect her citizens facing the death penalty in foreign countries especially in south east Asia.
It is estimated that nearly 650 Nigerians may be on death row or facing capital charges in China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietman, most of them for drug offences. More than 10 Nigerians have been executed in the last one year despite international condemnation of their possible faulty trials.
LEDAP is concerned that the arrests, interogations and trials of these Nigerians usually violated basic norms of fair hearing. Most of them had no interpreters during questioning upon arrest and even during trials.
The law of nations require that where a foreigner is arrested for any offence, the consulate or embassy of such person must be notified and the necessary consular services provided to the suspect, especially legal services and interpreters. In most of the cases of Nigerians arrested and tried in south east Asia, these rules are not complied with. As a result, there are high liklihood that their trials, convictions and sentences violate basic principles of fair trial.
The world day against the use of the death penalty is to remind governments and people of the world of the danger of death sentence for any offence. Not only that there is very high risk of convicting and killing an innocent person, the death penalty is widely used against the poor and vulnerable groups including minorities.
LEDAP calls on Nigeria to enter into diplomatic negotiations with countries of the south east Asia and Saudi Arabia to secure prison transfers of all Nigerians currently convicted and sentenced to death in those countries, and to ensure that consulate services are provided in future to any Nigerian arrested and charged in any foreign country.
LEDAP also urges the Nigerian National Assembly to adopt laws to abolish the use of death sentence as punishment for any crime. LEDAP has recorded exenoration of nearly a third of over 55 cases of death row prisoners it handled on appeal in the last 5 years, indicating a very high risk of wrongful convictions in the country. There is no justification to continue to use the death penalty in Nigeria in those circumstances.
National Coordinator LEDAP