By Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu
On the occasion of the 20th World Day Against the Death Penalty, we join the rest of the world’s activists, organizations and groups against the death penalty to reaffirm our opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances and call for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The death penalty should be put to an end; it is an obsolete act that grossly contradicts the individual’s right to life.
The death penalty is a gross violation of fundamental human rights; it is inhumane, cruel, and degrading. No state should have the power to take a person’s life. The death penalty disproportionately affects the most vulnerable of society, who most times lack the resources to engage the services of a lawyer. Justice should never be to the disadvantage of the less privileged. Studies (by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty) have also revealed that the death penalty doesn’t serve as a deterrent, it doesn’t stop crimes from re-occurring. What is worse about the death penalty is that it is absolute, it cannot be undone, even with the emergence of new evidence exonerating the convicted.
A collective stance against the death penalty should not be mistaken for a view of unaccountability for crimes committed. Perpetrators of crimes must be held accountable and punished for their deeds, but narrowing the scope down to the effectiveness of judicial measures, the death penalty has been proven ineffective and doesn’t serve as a deterrent. Countries with the death penalty in full force continue to experience a prevalent crime rate.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people on death row currently stands at 5,841. With 3,036 death-row inmates, Nigeria represents over 52 per cent of the total number. This shows that efforts to end the death penalty in Nigeria must be reinvigorated. Nigeria as a nation must demonstrate firm resolve and commitment against acts that perpetuate a cycle of violence in a bid to serve justice. That no death penalties have been carried out in Nigeria since 2016 is a step in the right direction, but not enough. Nigeria is urged to join the growing list of African nations that have abolished the death penalty such as Rwanda, Burundi, Togo, Gabon, Benin, Congo, Madagascar, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Sierra Leone.
Avocats Sans Frontières France, the Ambassade de France in Nigeria, the Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Nigeria and the Institut Français du Nigéria hereby call on governments of nations still practising the death penalty, including Nigeria, to put in place an official moratorium as the first step towards abolition.
Observed every 10th of October, the World Day Against the Death Penalty consolidates the global movement against capital punishment and mobilizes civil society, political leaders, activists, lawyers, change agents and more to support the call for the universal abolition of capital punishment. The day presents an opportunity to spotlight the death penalty theme across the world and consolidate the general awareness of the worldwide movement against the death penalty.
Signed: Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, Country Director, ASF France Nigeria
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