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DISPATCH: Injustice in Nigeria
Posted on February 14, 2002 by Anita

If it weren't for a student at the People and Planet conference passing me a note this weekend in Oxford, I might never have heard the story of Safiya Husseini Tungar-Tudu. Safiya is a 34-year-old mother of two who was sentenced in an Islamic court in Nigeria late last year to be stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage. When she was sentenced, she was pregnant with the child of the alleged adulterous incident.

Several Muslim states in Northern Nigeria -- including the one in Safiya's village of Gwadabawa in Sokota State -- have in recent years adopted strict Sharia law, an Islamic legal code reputedly derived from the Quran in which adultery is sometimes punishable by death and thievery by amputation of a hand. Sharia forbids extramarital sex by both men and women -- although, ironically, the man with whom Safiya allegedly had sex confessed to police but then, in court, denied ever having met Safiya and was freed by the same court for lack of evidence.

Safiya is not the only woman to be convicted of extramarital sex in Nigeria in recent years. The first was a teenage mother whose sentence -- 180 lashes -- was carried out a year ago. Another, 17-year-old Hafsatu Abubakar, was freed last month by a Sharia court in the same state, despite her confession that she had engaged in premarital sex.

Last October, Human Rights Watch called on the Nigerian government to intervene on Safiya's behalf. The Nigerian government has said that it supports Safiya's cause, and has even paid for her legal defense, but has thus far refused to countermand the Sharia court's decision.

Safiya took her case to a court of appeals in November and won a stay of execution, but she is not yet safe. Her case will be heard again by another Sharia court this month and her sentence could be reinstated. The sentence of stoning calls for the convict to be buried up to the chest and then stoned until dead, according to the BBC.

Activists in Europe have staged a massive letter-writing and email campaign to urge the Nigerian government to pardon Safiya. "Our campaign has been successful beyond our expectations. In Switzerland, England, France, Denmark, and everywhere in Europe, Nigerian embassies are receiving thousands of mails per day," campaigner Veronique Kauffmann
told the Pan African News Agency.

Members of the European Parliament and the International Federation for Human Rights have also appealed to Nigeria to commute or overturn the sentence. "The case has already become extremely political, and ultimately it will be the politicians and not the lawyers who will decide Safiya's fate," reported Dan Isaacs of the BBC.

Put the political screws to the Nigerian government and force them to do the right thing. Especially helpful are emails, calls, faxes, and letters from beyond Europe.

Choose any or all of the contacts below to register your concern. Craft your own letter, or cut an paste the following paragraph and include it in your correspondence:

Honorable _______:
I am writing to urge you and Nigerian President Obasanjo to intervene decisively in the case of Safiya Husseini Tungar-Tudu. She is the woman convicted in adultery by a Sharia court in Sokoto State last year. Not only is there evidence that she was wrongly convicted, but her sentence -- to be stoned to death -- is a blatant violation of human rights and dignity. Please step in and prevent this tragedy by pardoning Safiya Husseini, and work with the Islamic courts prevent future cases like it.

With hope,

___your name____, _____your city/country____

Send your letter to (or call) one or more of the following:

Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
To email, use this Web-based form.

Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
To email, use this Web-based form.

UN High Commissioner
on Human Rights

8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 (22) 917-9000
Email: webadmin.hchr@unog.ch

Embassy of Nigeria, United States
1333-16TH Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 986-8449 or (202) 462-7124
To email, use this Web-based form.

Nigerian Consulate, New York
Consulate-General of Nigeria
Nigeria House
828 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Telephone:(212) 850-2200 or (212) 808-0301
Facsimile: (212) 687-1476
Email: info@nigeria-consulate-ny.org

Nigerian High Commission, UK
No 9 Northumberland Avenue
London WC2N 5BX
Telephone: 0207 839 1244; Facsimile: 0207 839 8746
56-57 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1BT
Telephone: 0207 353 3776

Nigerian High Commission, Australia
7 Terrigal Crescent, O'Malley
ACT 2606, Canberra
Telephone: (61) 861-322

Nigerian High Commission, Canada
Place de Ville, Tower A Suite 2000 320 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Telephone: 236 0521, 0522, 0523
Email: hc@nigeriahighcommottawa.com

If your country is not represented above, go here to find a Nigerian embassy, consulate, or permanent mission in your region.

Topic : Human_rights
Posted By : Anita
Posted On : February 14, 2002



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