Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

Report
November 5, 1996

Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights


In carrying out these gross miscarriages of justice, the present Nigerian government violated the following international human rights standards, including treaty obligations:

a) By arbitrarily arresting and detaining them for up to eight months without charge - Article 9(1) of the ICCPR; Article 6 of the ACHPR

b) By failing to address serious allegations that prosecution statements were obtained under torture, duress and improper inducement - Articles 7, 10(1) and 14(3)(g) of the ICCPR; Articles 12, 13 and 15 of the UN Convention against Torture; Articles 3,4,5 and 6 of the ACHPR

c) By refusing to allow for the courts to order the production of detainees before them, including by writ of habeas corpus - Article 9(4) of the ICCPR; Articles 6 and 7(1) of the ACHPR

d) By trying the defendants before a court which was neither competent, independent nor impartial - Article 14(1) of the ICCPR; Articles 3 and 7 of the ACHPR

e) By denying defendants the right to be tried in ordinary courts or tribunals using established procedures - Principle 5 of the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary

f) By failing to provide for proper and prompt medical examination - Articles 7 and 10 (1) of the ICCPR; Article 5 of the ACHPR; Principle 24 of the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment; Rule 91 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

g) By not allowing defendants sufficient time or facilities to prepare their defence properly in communication with counsel of their own choosing - Article 14(3)(b) of the ICCPR; Article 7(1)(d) of the ACHPR

h) By conducting two trials simultaneously before the same tribunal on the basis of almost identical indictments and prosecution statements, thereby compromising the independence and impartiality of that tribunal - Article 14 of the ICCPR

i) By refusing defendants the right of appeal to a higher and independent judicial body - Article 14(5) of the ICCPR; Article 7(1)(a) of the ACHPR

j) By imposing the death penalty without establishing guilt based upon clear and convincing evidence leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts and pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court after legal process which gives all possible safeguards to ensure a fair trial and which allows the right of appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction - UN Economic and Social Council safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty


319 Ogoni prisoners still held without trial

At least 19 Ogoni prisoners are currently facing the prospect of being tried on identical charges before the same Civil Disturbances Special Tribunal which sentenced Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others to death in 1995 after grossly unfair trials. Most of them have been in detention since mid-1994. Charges were formally lodged in September 1995. The 19 Ogoni prisoners are: Samuel Asigha, John Banatu, Ngbaa Baovi, Kagbara Bassee, Paul Deekor, Michael Doghala, Godwin Gbodor, Friday Gburuma, Blessing Israel, Adam Kaa, Benjamin Kabari, Baribuma Kumanwee, Baritule Lebe, Taaghalo Monsi, Nyieda Nasikpo, Sampson Ntignee, Nwinbari Abere Papah, Babina Vizor and Pop-Gbara Zor-Zor.

In May 1996 the Nigerian government announced measures to reform Civil Disturbances Special Tribunals. These reforms fall well short of what is required to bring these tribunals into line with international fair trial standards. Moreover, whatever final form the judicial process involving the 19 Ogoni prisoners takes, the Nigerian authorities have already violated the following international human rights standards, including treaty obligations, in the detention and pre-trial phases:

a) By arbitrarily arresting and detaining them for a prolonged period - Article 9(1) of the ICCPR; Article 6 of the ACHPR

b) By failing to bring them to trial within a reasonable time - Article 9(3) of the ICCPR; Article 7(1)(d) of the ACHPR