The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia has ordered the government of Libya to suspend the execution of Nigerians on death row in that country. The Commission is the body charged with overseeing states parties’ compliance with their legal obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Commission’s order followed a petition filed by the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP), through its Solicitor Mr Femi Falana.

In the Provisional Measures with reference number ACHPR/PROVM/LIB/01/75. 09 dated 9 September 2009, and signed by Commissioner Bahame Tom Mukirya NYANDUGA, Acting Chairperson of the African Commission, the Commission said that it is “seriously concerned about the allegations that several Nigerians are held on death row, while others are held in prison under inhuman and degrading treatment in Libya.”

The Provisional Measures reads in part “I have the honour to bring to the Brother Leader’s attention, a complaint submitted in terms of Article 55 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a human rights non-governmental organization based in Nigeria against the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, on behalf of a number of Nigerian nationals alleging that they are currently held in Libyan jails in contravention of their rights guaranteed by the African Charter.”

“The Complaint has been registered as a Communication against Libya. I would also like to inform the Brother Leader that the Communication shall be tabled before the African Commission, for seizure during its next Ordinary Session, which is scheduled to take place from 11-25 November 2009, and will subsequently be sent to the authorities,” the Commission further stated.

The African Commission also said that “In accordance with Rule 111(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission, I request Brother Leader to intervene in the matter with the view of preventing irreparable damage being caused to the victims while the African Commission inquires about the veracity of the Complaint. The appeal is particularly pertinent in respect of the imprisoned Nigerians, whom the Complainant alleges that they await the death penalty.”

“The African Commission while not expressing its position at this point on the legality of these allegations, wishes to draw the Brother Leader’s attention and the attention of the authorities in Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to Resolution ACHPR/Res. 139 (XXXXIV) 08 adopted at the 44th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on the Moratorium on the Death Penalty in Africa,” the Commission added.

 “In this regard, the African Commission would be grateful if the Brother Leader would heed its request and suspend the carrying out of the death penalty on the victims, pending the consideration of the Communication. The African Commission would also like to assure the Brother Leader that this Communication would be dealt with expeditiously. I hope this appeal for provisional measures shall receive your positive response.”

The Nigerians covered by the African Commission’s decision include: Adepoju Adebowale; Abdulah Usman; David Okiki Awolabi; Micky Remi; Okuronbo Osazemhide; Gani Olu; Livingstone Kennedy; Ikeoma; Ogurapulu Richard; Don Emmanuel Nwaeueje; James Amala; Declan Nnamdi; Emmanuel Ude; Moses Anigbogu; Ogoubamu; Okhwku Moha; John Andrew; Jude Idahosa; Juliana Okolo, and Luke Ejike.

Reacting to the African Commission’s decision SERAP’s lawyer Mr Femi Falana said that “This is a landmark decision and one which shows the willingness of the African Commission to assert its authority in critical situations such as the present one, in order to ensure full protection of the human rights of the African people, and to hold African governments responsible for their legal obligations and commitments under the African Charter.”
Mr Falana also said that “Justice is long overdue for the Nigerians on death row and in prisons across Libya under very harsh and dehumanising conditions. No human being should be treated unfairly and no one should be denied his/her basic humanity.”

“As the current Chair of the African Union (AU), Libya should now show leadership and good example by taking steps to immediately and fully implement the decision requiring it to stop the execution of the Nigerians on death row, and to uphold the resolutions on moratorium on executions adopted by both the African Commission and the UN General Assembly,” Mr Falana added.

“Also, the time has come for the Nigerian government to show responsibility by publicly expressing support for the African Commission’s decision, and working with the other members of the AU to ensure its full implementation by the Libyan authorities. Ultimately, both Libya and Nigeria must align themselves with the global trend towards abolishing the death penalty,” Mr Falana concluded.

Adetokunbo Mumuni
SERAP Executive Director



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