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UN rights expert condemns recent executions in Nigeria

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions [official website] Christof Heyns on Wednesday condemned [press release] the Nigerian government for the alleged execution of four men in the State of Edo [official website]. Heyns voiced his concern "that capital punishment appears to have been imposed without due process safeguards in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text] to which Nigeria acceded to on 29 July 1993." These executions come after the government of Nigeria reaffirmed their commitment to a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in 2009. The issue of extrajudicial killings however, is not new in Nigeria. A 2008 UN report found that extrajudicial executions by police were widespread and that the legal system suffered from frequent procedural irregularities, extremely poor death row conditions, and the imposition of the death penalty for adultery and sodomy.

The Special Rapporteur has been active in speaking out against executions around the world. In March Heyns urged [JURIST report] the Indonesian government to restrict the use of capital punishment to comply with their international human rights obligations after a Malawian national Adami Wilson was executed by firing squad following his conviction on drug smuggling charges. In December at the end of his official visit to Turkey he declared [JURIST report] that while Turkey has made progress in cracking down on extrajudicial killings, it still has a long way to go in remedying the problem. Last July, Heyns expressed concern [JURIST report] about an announcement that the Iraqi Court of Cassation has upheld the death sentences of 196 individuals in the Anbar province of Iraq. Heyns urged the Iraqi government to immediately halt all executions and review death row cases, noting that he supported a similar call [JURIST report] made last January by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile].

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