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AI report: Nigeria responsible for half of death sentences in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • China, Saudi Arabia, Iran leads the world

…Paschal Okeke 


The Amnesty International (AI) has in its latest Nigeria as being response for half of death sentences in Sub-Saharan Africa.


The report released yesterday also listed China, Saudi Arabia and Iran alongside Nigeria as the global leaders in passing death sentences.


AI also deplored the 145 percent increase in the number of death sentences handed down by courts across sub-Saharan Africa in 2016.


The human rights group said in its latest reports that the rise on 2015 saw Nigeria alone account for over half of the regional total – 527 death penalties out of 1,086 across sub-Saharan Africa.


The Nigerian figure is the second highest in the world, with China again accounting for most sentences of capital punishment.


However, Amnesty said the number of actual executions carried out in the region during the year was less than in 2015.


Three people were hung in Nigeria in 2016 – the first actual executions since 2013, it noted.


“At least 22 executions were carried out in five countries – compared to 43 executions in four countries in 2015,” according to Amnesty.


The group warned people were being given death penalties, only to be freed later.


“The danger of people being executed for crimes they did not commit remains ever-present: half of the exonerations recorded around the world in 2016 were in Nigeria (32),” it added.


Amnesty also expressed concern over the rising number of death penalties in the southern African region, “with 283 people under the sentence of death at the end 2016”.


The rights body said 157 of the sentences were in Zambia and 97 in Zimbabwe. Botswana was the only country to carry out an execution, its first since 2013.


Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe were the only countries in southern Africa to hand down death sentences in 2016.

The region recorded a total of 110, the overwhelming majority of which – 101 – were in Zambia.


“At a time when the number of countries carrying out executions around the world is going down, indicating that the world is moving away from this inhumane and degrading form of punishment, Botswana is the only country in the region still showing flagrant contempt for the right to life,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.


“Botswana’s step backward must not be replicated elsewhere in the region. While they didn’t carry out any executions, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe continued to hand down death sentences.


“We urge all countries to totally abolish the death penalty,” he added.


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