Thursday 5th September 2013 may become one of the saddest days for Africa. In what many have described as shameful and embarrassing, the Kenyan Parliament voted to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in protest against the continued trial of President Uhuru Kenyetta and his Deputy William Ruto over their role in the 2007 post election violence that led to the death of over 1000 Kenyan Citizens. Several reasons have been canvassed for this withdrawal. Some have argued sovereign immunity; others the hypocrisy of Western Countries.

For the Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), this is a dangerous precedent that may ultimately exacerbate crimes against humanity and encourage more impunity in Africa.
The critical questions remain:
  1. Were crimes against humanity committed in Kenya?
  2. Should the perpetrators be held accountable? The answer  to both questions is in the affirmative.
  3. Can the Kenyan government deliver justice in the present circumstance?
If the answer to the latter is in the negative then every other argument is a no issue.
The Human Rights Law Service therefore condemns in strong terms the decision taken by the Kenyan parliament and applauds the decision of the ICC to continue with the trial even with the withdrawal of the Kenyan government. Sovereignty will no longer be used as a cloak for impunity and crimes against humanity in Africa.
The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) condemns in the strongest terms recent policy advise that governors begin to sign execution warrants. We are also concerned that the Nigeria prison authority is preparing to execute 5 condemned prisoners in Edo State despite that their cases challenging the signing of their execution is still pending in courts. This for us is not only a drawback on Nigeria’s human rights, it is a repudiation of Nigeria’s international commitment that it has in place an unofficial moratorium.

The official government statement made during the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on 9th February, 2009 where while informing the UN that the ‘’Death Sentence’’   is a valid part of Nigerian Law, it was admitted that: ‘Nigeria, is however, not oblivious of the global debate on the propriety or otherwise of the death sentence.  In the spirit of the global trend, Nigeria has constituted a National Committee on the review of the death sentence. With regard to the moratorium on death penalty, though we voted against it in the UN General Assembly resolution, Nigeria continues to exercise a self imposed moratorium’.[1]

More recently after the Governors Forum hinted that execution of death row inmates was their solution to prison decongestion, the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN in line with the official state policy said: ‘The Governors were not properly advised. I have written a letter and I will be discussing the issue extensively in the next meeting with the States Attorneys General ……(the death penalty) is anachronistic. It is no longer the trend and it is not an effective deterrent. Some people may not agree with me. Having given a moratorium we should not be seen to be violating it because it will attract sanctions from the United Nations’[2]

We agree with the Attorney General that the Death Penalty, which though is no longer in use in Nigeria, is anachronistic and not an effective deterrent to crimes.

We therefore urge the Federal and state governments to retrace its steps and to observe its international commitments and obligations by leaving in place the moratorium on executions in Nigeria.

[1] Ojo Madueke, former Minister of Foreign Affair; Statement of Nigeria During the 4th Session of Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council

[2] Thisday Lawyer, Tuesday, August 10, 2010, page X

We write to bring to your notice that your recently released cut –off mark for the 36 states of the Federation for admission into the 104 Federal Government Colleges where a State like Zamfara has as little as 2 as cut off points while Anambra has 139 as cut off points violates S 42 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which forbids executive or administrative actions which discriminates on account of ethnic group, place of origin etc.

The implication of this policy is that an Igbo boy or girl from Anambra State or a Yoruba boy or girl from Lagos State with a higher cut-off point can be denied admission into the unity schools irrespective of his/her high score and on account of his/her state of origin.  And a Hausa boy or girl from Zamfara state or an Ijaw boy or girl from Bayelsa state with a lower cut-off point will be given preference in admission irrespective of his/her low score and on account of his/her  state of origin.

It may be that you are unaware of the provisions of S 42 of the Constitution which is why we are giving this notice.

However, if after this notice, the list is not withdrawn, we will initiate legal proceedings to compel withdrawal of the list.

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