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Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 219. Mr. Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the communication the Government has had with the Nigerian authorities in relation to serious concerns being expressed regarding the death sentence imposed on a person (details supplied) for having a baby outside marriage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23427/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen A Sharia court in the state of Katsina in northern Nigeria imposed a sentence of death by stoning for adultery on the woman in question. The sentence was subsequently upheld by a Sharia court of appeal.

The inhumane and excessive nature of the punishment has generated widespread concern in Ireland and internationally, and rightly so. The Government believes that the sentence is in contravention of Nigeria's obligations under international human rights instruments, including, article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Government has made known its deep concern about the case to the federal authorities in Nigeria through the Nigerian Embassy in Dublin and has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to meet its obligations under international human rights law.

The Irish Embassy in Abuja has conveyed the Government's concern to the Nigerian authorities and has also been in contact with the woman's legal team. I understand that an appeal has been lodged with the federal courts.

The EU has issued a declaration conveying the deep concern of member states at the decision of the Sharia court of appeal to uphold the sentence and expressing the expectation of the EU that the woman will have all opportunities for appeal at federal level. Together with our EU partners, Ireland will continue to monitor closely the safety of the individual in question.

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