France, Australia condemn death penalty in Nigeria

On Tuesday, France, Australia and Avocats Sans Frontieres France reaffirmed their opposition to the death penalty in Nigeria.

The call against capital punishment came at the event to mark World Day Against Death Penalty 2023 in Abuja.

Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said since the day was established in 2002, France had always seized the opportunity in all international fora to advocate universal abolition of the death penalty.

She said 53 countries around the world still authorised the death penalty, including Nigeria.

“Every year, we continue to try to raise awareness on this common cause and diversify our means of action and efforts so that one day, this major issue will no longer be in the world, in Nigeria and elsewhere. In 2022, Amnesty International recorded 2,016 death sentences in 52 countries.

“Also in 2022, at least 883 executions in 20 countries took place, and this is unfortunately an increase of 53 per cent compared to 2021,” she said.

Charge D’ Affaires of the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Leann Johnston, also corroborated Blatmann’s statement.

Ms Johnston said Australia opposed the death penalty for all people in all circumstances and supported the universal! abolition of capital punishment.

According to her, on the latest figures, some 3,300 death row inmates in Nigeria live daily with this sentence hanging over them — not just them, but their families also.

She said that though Nigeria’s last death penalty took place in 2016, the envoy urged the Nigerian government to go a step further and implement the official moratorium.

“l am pleased to see that Ghana abolished the death penalty in 2023, the Central African Republic in 2022 and Sierra Leone in 2021. I call on Nigeria to implement an official moratorium on executions and to move towards formal abolition of the death penalty,” she said.

ASF France country director Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, also known as Lawyers Without Borders, France, said the death penalty does not deter crime; it does not offer the prospect of rehabilitation, and it is irreversible where there is a miscarriage of justice.

Ms Uzoma-Iwuchukwu noted that a Nigerian police officer, Drambi Vandi, who was said to have shot dead a Lagos-based lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day in 2022, was just sentenced to death by hanging on Monday.

AGF Lateef Fagbemi said the death penalty was “one of the most critical human rights issues of our time.”

Fagbemi, represented by Felix Ota-Okojie, secretary of the Federal Justice Reform Coordinating Committee, Federal Ministry of Justice, said the death penalty and the debate surrounding its use as a form of punishment had continued to stoke feelings all around the world, especially in Nigeria.