UN welcomes rescinding of death sentence for adultery in Nigeria

26 September 2003

The United Nations human rights office today welcomed the rescinding of a death sentence by stoning imposed on a Nigerian woman for adultery, calling it a step in the direction of decency and justice.

A court in the northern Nigerian state of Katsina yesterday overturned an Islamic court's conviction of Amina Lawal last year after she had a baby outside wedlock.

Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan commended the work of those inside and outside of Nigeria who had campaigned for justice for Mrs. Lawal, spokesman José Luis Díaz told a news briefing in Geneva.

Mr. Ramcharan expressed particular appreciation for the support of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on this issue, Mr. Díaz added.

The Office of the High Commissioner had been in constant contact with the Nigerian authorities to highlight the international human rights standard of the issue and had called for them to be upheld, he said, adding that the Office had carried out a detailed legal analysis of the case from the point of view of these standards.

This analysis would be particularly useful in view of other ongoing cases in Nigeria and possibly elsewhere that raised similar concerns as those in the Lawal case, Mr. Díaz added.

A spokesman in New York yesterday said the UN welcomed the decision “which is in line with international human rights standards, and is happy that her life has been spared.”


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