Friday, 26 December 2014


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a group of five United Nations human rights independent experts to individually and jointly use their “good offices and positions to urgently request the Nigerian government and its military authorities not to carry out the mass death sentences imposed on 54 Nigerian soldiers for what the government claimed was disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer.” In a petition dated 23 December 2014 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the group said that, “It is not right or fair to try everyone in mass proceedings, and that such unfair trial should not send someone to the gallows. Imposition of mass death sentences is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. This Covenant limits the circumstances in which a state can impose the death sentence.” “All human rights depend for their enjoyment the right to life, which is the most fundamental of all rights.  The right to life symbolizes everything that the United Nations works and stands for, be it in the area of peace and security, development or human rights.  To reject the act of irreversibly taking someone’s life is to embrace belief in human progress and dignity,” SERAP also argued. According to the organization, “The imposition of mass death sentences is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights. The UN General Assembly to which Nigeria is a member has called for a worldwide moratorium on execution.  In fact, the Special Rapporteurs have pointed stated that the right to life is a fundamental right, not a toy to be played with. If the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have not abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards.”
“The issues raised by the soldiers suggest lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the way the security budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled,” the organization also stated.
The organization therefore asked the Special Rapporteurs individually and jointly to:

  1. Publicly express concerns about the mass imposition of death sentences on the soldiers
  1. Publicly express concerns about the lack of clarity of the charges under which each of the soldiers was sentenced to death. 
  1. Urgently request the Nigerian government and its military authorities to quash the 54 death sentences imposed on the 54 soldiers for failing to meet even the basic requirements of fair trials
  1. Declare that the imposition of mass death sentences on the soldiers makes a mockery of justice
  1. Continue to follow closely the situation and remind the Nigerian authorities of the need for the Nigerian society to be based on justice, and full respect of human rights 
  1. Request the Nigerian authorities to exercise their legal authority to commute the death sentences and pardon the 54 soldiers
  1. Request the Nigerian authorities to impose moratoriums on executions and pave the way for the full abolition of the death penalty.

 “You have consistently and jointly taken similar actions in the past including with respect to Egypt, and we respectfully urge you to follow this path in the instance case to continue your record of working to end the death penalty in all countries,” the organization urged the experts.

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