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Amnesty appeal over Nigeria mother

Amnesty appeal over Nigeria mother

LONDON, England -- Human rights pressure group Amnesty International has issued an "urgent appeal" to Nigeria to free a woman sentenced to death after she confessed to having a child out of marriage.

Amina Lawal, 30, who faces execution by stoning, was convicted and sentenced by an Islamic sharia court in March after giving birth to a baby girl more than nine months after divorcing.

Pregnancy outside marriage constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to some Northern Nigerian states that apply strict sharia law.

On Tuesday, an appeals court in Funtua stayed her execution for two years to allow her to wean her baby.

CNN's Jeff Koinange reports on a case in a northern Nigerian state that applies strict Islamic sharia law (June 5)

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"The ruling means that nothing will happen to Amina regarding the execution of the death sentence on her until she has weaned her baby by 2004," Kurami's lawyer Hawa Ibrahim told Reuters.

But Amnesty International is urging the Nigerian government to ensure that she is not executed under any circumstance.

It is urging the public to send faxes of protest Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Sule Lamido, its minister of foreign affairs, and Kanu Godwin Agabi, the minister of justice.

In a statement, the pressure group said: "Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Amina Lawal and unreservedly condemns the use of corporal punishment, torture and the use of the death penalty, which clearly violates international human rights standards.

"Amnesty International would like to recall that the government of Nigeria is a state party to international human rights instruments which include the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"In addition, Nigeria is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which prohibits violence and other forms of discrimination against women."

It is calling on the public contact the Nigerian authorities and urge them to "guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Amina Lawal and her family, take all necessary measures to secure respect for the rule of law in Nigeria which includes respect for the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, such as the practice of corporal punishment and guarantee women their human rights.

"It also urges calls on the public to "strongly condemn the sentencing to death of a woman who has just had a child."

Kurami is the second woman to be sentenced to death after bearing a child out of marriage since 2000, when more than a dozen states in the predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria adopted strict Islamic sharia law.

In March, an appeals court reversed a similar sentence on Safiya Hussaini Tungar-Tudu after worldwide pleas for clemency and a warning from Obasanjo that Nigeria faced international isolation over the case.

The adoption of sharia, which punishes theft with the amputation of hands, has stoked violence between Muslims and Christians in Africa's most populous state. More than 3,000 people have been killed.


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