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- The Nigerian federal and state governments should carry
out a review of Sharia state legislation introduced since 2000 and remove
those sections of the laws which violate fundamental human rights and
breach Nigerias obligations under the Nigerian constitution and
international human rights conventions. In particular, they should
eliminate provisions for cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments
including death sentences, amputations, and floggings, and provisions
which discriminate against women. They should also decriminalize
consensual sexual relations between adults.
- The federal government should take steps towards the
abolition of the death penalty in all legal systems operating in Nigeria. Pending abolition, judges should refrain from handing down death sentences,
amputations and floggings, and government authorities should not authorize
the execution of these punishments. State governors should commute all
outstanding death and amputation sentences.
- Prisoners who have been sentenced to amputation should be
released if they have already served a prison term commensurate with their
offense. An independent judicial panel should review their cases promptly
and recommend their release as appropriate.
- Authorities should make it mandatory that at least three
judges sit in lower or upper Sharia courts dealing with criminal cases,
particularly for offenses punishable by death or amputation.
- Sharia court judges should always inform defendants of
their rights, ensure that they have understood these, and confirm that
they are fully aware of the sentence they may face if they plead guilty.
Judges should systematically inform defendants of their right to legal
representation and offer them the opportunity to adjourn the trial to give
them time to find a lawyer. Legal representation should be made mandatory
in all trials where the offense is punishable by death or amputation and
the federal and state governments should enable defendants who are
indigent to receive free legal representation.
- Judges should not convict defendants solely on the basis
of a confession. In cases where a confession is considered alongside
other evidence, judges should always verify that the confession has been
made willingly. Judges should never accept statements alleged to have been
extracted under torture. They should order immediate independent
investigations into any claims by defendants that the police tortured them
in order to extract a confession. Prisoners convicted on the basis of
confessions allegedly extracted under torture should be released
- Government and judicial authorities should continue to
develop training programs for Sharia court judges, as well as judges
working under parallel legal systems. The training should emphasize the
importance of respecting due process and should include detailed training
in human rights law and its application. Judges should be made aware of Nigerias ob ligations under the international and regional conventions it has
ratified. Judges application of this training should be regularly
monitored and measures taken against judges who fail to respect due
- More generally, state governments should encourage public
reflection and debate on the compatibility of human rights and Islamic
law, as well as other systems of law, and highlight the notions of
justice, compassion and fundamental rights which are integral to Sharia.
- State governments should instruct the hisbah not to harass
or abuse members of the general public and should set up mechanisms to
monitor their adherence to these instructions. If hisbah members
apprehend someone suspected of committing a criminal offense, they should
immediately hand them over to the police. Under no circumstances should
they dispense punishment themselves. Any member of the hisbah responsible
for ill-treating a suspected criminal should be suspended from his duties
and brought to justice.
- Continue to encourage the Nigerian federal and state
governments to amend legislation so that it excludes cruel, inhuman, and
degrading punishments, provisions which discriminate against women, and
the criminalization of consensual sexual relations between adults.
- Urge government and judicial authorities to ensure respect
for due process in Sharia court trials.
- Support initiatives by Nigerian human rights organizations
and womens organizations financially or otherwise to provide legal
representation, advice, and other forms of assistance to defendants, and
to raise awareness of peoples rights under Sharia, especially among the
rural and the poor.
- Extend concern about human rights in Nigeria to other areas where violations have been at least as grave as under Sharia. These concerns
should be voiced alongside concern about human rights under Sharia, and
with equal force. In particular, urge the Nigerian government to take
effective action to prevent further extrajudicial killings by the security
forces and intercommunal violence and to put an end to the impunity
protecting those responsible for these crimes. Also urge the government
to address ongoing problems within the common law system in Nigeria, including arbitrary arrests, prolonged pre-trial detention, and torture by the