Saturday, August 11, 2007

URGENT ACTION - 18 Nigerian men charged with sodomy

All could face death by stoning - protest to Nigerian Ambassador
Reports from the Nigerian news agency, NAN, say that 18 men in the northern Nigerian state of Bauchi, which is governed by Islamic Sharialaw, have been arrested on charges of sodomy and could be sentenced to death by stoning (this is the prescribed penalty for sodomy under Sharia law). The 18 men have been remanded in prison after they were arrested lastSunday, 5 August 2007, at a private party in a hotel, where they were allegedly celebrating a "gay wedding." They were arraigned on Wednesday before Justice Taminu Abubakar of the Bauchi High Court, and will soon be sent for trial. For more details, here are the links to the BBC and Daily Champion news articles:

I would urge people to protest to the Nigerian ambassador in London as soon as possible, urging that the charges be dropped and that Nigeria's anti-sodomy laws be repealed on the grounds that they contravene international human rights law (see details below). The name of the Nigerian Ambassador in London is Dozie Nwanna. Ambassador Nwanna can be contacted via this email address:

For people living outside the UK, please protest to the Nigerian Ambassador in the country where you live. Or, if it is easier, send a protest email to the Nigerian Ambassador in London at the above address. Please ensure that your message to the Ambassador is polite and courteous, and that it stresses Nigeria's obligation to uphold its agreed commitments under African and international human rights charters and law. Please cite the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (see details below). In case some people prefer to write or fax their protests, here is theLondon Ambassador's postal address and fax number:

Ambassador Dozie Nwanna
Acting High Commissioner
Nigeria High Commission
Nigeria House
9 Northumberland Avenue
FAX: 0207 839 8746

Please circulate this email to your friends and ask them to protest as well.

Human rights law briefing

Nigeria's anti-sodomy law contravenes the anti-discrimination provisions of various African and UN human rights charters that Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold:
The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights affirms the equality of all people: Article 2 states: "Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status." Article 3 enshrines equality before the law. Article 26 says: "Every individual shall have the duty to respect and consider his fellow beings without discrimination, and to maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance." The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Nigeria acceded in 1993, protects: The right to freedom of expression (article 19), freedom of conscience (article 18), freedom of association (article 22), and affirms the equality of all people before the law and the right to freedom from discrimination (articles 2 and 26). In the historic, landmark 1994 legal case of Toonen v Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors the compliance of member states with the ICCPR, ruled that sexual orientation should be understood to be a status protected from discrimination under these ICCPR articles. States cannot therefore legitimately suppress or restrict the enjoyment of human rights on the basis of sexual orientation. The UN Human Rights Committee later urged states not only to repeal laws criminalising homosexuality but to also enshrine the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation into their constitutions or other fundamental laws.

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