Socialist International delegation address Sharia court sentencing in Nigeria

16-20 October 2002

Following worldwide concern at the sentencing to death by stoning in Nigeria of Amina Lawal, and previously of Safiya Hussaini, with the application of new Sharia-based penal codes, a delegation of experts, on behalf of the Socialist International, drawn from different legal systems and regions of the world were in Abuja, Federal State Capital of Nigeria, from 16 to 20 October, to address the issue of Sharia Court sentencing, meeting with ministers of the government, members of the National Assembly, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

The visit of this delegation, which responded to the appeals of many within the socialist movement urging for an end to such practice in Nigeria, is also in line with the International's campaigns to abolish the death penalty and to stop violence against women.

The delegation was composed of Professor Perry Wallace of the Washington College of Law, of the American University, United States of America; Professor Abdelouab Maalmi of the Faculty of Juridical, Economic and Social Sciences, of the University Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco; and Dr. Gabriel Lansky, an Attorney at Law and human rights expert from Austria.

The delegation met with Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Kanu Godwin Agabi; Chair of the House of Representatives Committee for Women's Affairs, Florence Diya Aya; with members of the House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs and of the House Committee on Justice and Human Rights; Maryam Uwais from the Nigerian Human Rights Commission; the Secretary General and members of the Women's Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, WRAPA, a women's rights non-governmental organisation which provides legal assistance to women being tried under Sharia law; and, representatives from BAOBAB, a Lagos based organisation for human rights. The delegation also held meetings in Kaduna State in the north of Nigeria where Sharia law is in effect.