Stop Gambians from killing death row prisoner as it is a violation of their human right, SERAP urges President Goodluck Jonathan.
By Sani Tukur
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan urging him to put a stop to Gambia’s execution of Nigerians.
In the appeal, SERAP, a civil society group which aims to support human rights by promoting transparency and accountability in public and private sectors, asked that the president use “his position and the country’s influence within the ECOWAS to urgently prevail on the Gambian authorities not to execute two Nigerians and over 30 Gambians on death row in the Gambia”.
The appeal followed reports by Amnesty International on Sunday, that at least nine of the 47 death row prisoners have already been secretly executed.
According to Amnesty International, the president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, in a national speech to mark the Muslim festival of Eid el Fitri, vowed to kill all 47 death row inmates by next month.
SERAP in a public statement dated 27 August 2012 and signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, stated that the organisation is “seriously concerned that following very credible reports of execution of 9 death row prisoners by the Gambian authorities, two Nigerians and over 30 Gambians are now facing imminent threat of execution. The Nigerian president must urgently act to stop this unlawful and arbitrary killing by the state of Gambia before it is too late.”
SERAP held that the threat by Gambia’s president to execute prisoners is tantamount to multiple violations of their right to life and fair trial as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and resolutions on moratorium on executions adopted by both the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.
According to the organization, “Under section 81(4) of the Gambian Constitution the Gambian parliament must adopt a memorandum of execution before any execution can take place. We are fully aware that no such memorandum has so far been adopted. Similarly, most of the cases of those executed or about to be executed are still pending on appeal.”
Stop the execution of Nigerians and Gambians
SERAP holds that the only way to stop the impending execution of the prisoners is for Nigeria’s president to publicly request the Gambian authorities to comply with international laws and stop the human rights abuse of the death row prisoners.
“If there is a clear case for the Nigerian President to protect Nigerians abroad, this is it,” the organization added.
“In the Gambia, human rights of citizens and foreign nationals, including Nigerians continue to be violated with impunity. Yet, justice is based on respect for the rights of every individual. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts it, ”recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. The Declaration also provides that ”[e]veryone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing… of any criminal charge” and ”[e]veryone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial,” SERAP put forward.
It held that justice cannot be served if people are not subjected to fair hearings.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 44th Ordinary Session in Abuja, Nigeria, in November 2008, adopted a resolution that called on all African States, that still retains the death penalty to “observe a moratorium on the execution of death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”
The resolution directed AU member states, including Gambia that still retain the death penalty to: fully comply with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and guarantee to every person accused of crimes for which capital punishment is applicable, fair trial standards. The resolution directed African states to include in their periodic reports, information on the steps they are taking to move towards the abolition of the death penalty in their countries. The resolution is similar to the one adopted by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in 2007.