Juliana Francis

Avocats Sans Frontières France-Lawyers without Borders France-, said that at least seven Nigerians have been executed between 2007 and 2016.

This statement was underscored in a press statement by Avocats Sans Frontières France as it marks World Day Against the Death Penalty 2023, as it calls for an Official Moratorium in Nigeria.

The Country Director, ASF France in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, observed that every 10th of October, the World Day Against the Death Penalty unifies the global abolitionist movement and mobilizes civil society, political leaders, lawyers, public opinion and more to support the call for the universal abolition of capital punishment.

She added that the day encourages and consolidates the political and general awareness of the worldwide movement against the death penalty.

She said: “Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers without Borders France) strongly opposes the death penalty under all circumstances without exception. The death penalty should be completely abolished from all justice systems as it flagrantly violates the fundamental right to life.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) acknowledges the inherent right to life for every individual, thus, any attempt to end a person’s life in the name of justice even by a state is a violation of this right. Moreover, the death penalty is also a discriminatory pattern in its application worldwide, the death penalty is disproportionately used against disadvantaged people, particularly the poor.”

According to her, this year’s theme emphasises the concept of ‘irreversible torture’.

She said: “The execution of the death penalty itself is an irreversible cruel act offering no room for amendments to the verdict in light of new evidence.

“The death penalty also doesn’t serve as a deterrent, as countries that practice it continue to experience an increase in crime rates. The path leading to execution is usually paved with torture and psychological trauma for all parties involved including the detainee, lawyers, officials and most importantly the victim’s families.

“Between 2007 – 2016, there were seven executions in Nigeria with the last one occurring in 2016. Not carrying out executions for the past seven (7) years is a clear sign of progress in the movement against the death penalty, however, we must increase the decibel of voices in the advocacy against the death penalty to guarantee total abolishment of this practice in Nigeria.”

Uzoma-Iwuchukwu further said: “The death penalty should have no place in our justice system. It is against the very principle of reformative and restorative justice. No state should have the power to take someone’s life.  Today, we urge the Nigerian government to reflect on its continued use of the death penalty in Nigeria and take steps to join the other 27 African countries that have completely abolished the death penalty and other 14 de-facto abolitionist countries in the continent. We recommend the establishment of an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition.”

She explained that ASF France in Nigeria commemorates the day with a panel discussion themed ‘death penalty: an irreversible torture’ and a movie screening of the movie ‘Shepherds and Butchers.

She said that the activities are aimed at sensitising a critical mass of people to the death penalty and the dire need for its abolition in Nigeria.

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