|Save Amina Lawal|
(5/6/2003) This is not the first case of a Nigerian woman being sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock in recent months. But, with global human rights advocates protesting more loudly with each subsequent case, chain letters like this are growing in popularity.
On March 22, 2002, a Muslim Shari'ah court in northern Nigeria sentenced thirty-year-old Amina Lawal to death by stoning for adultery, citing her pregnancy out of wedlock as adequate evidence. On August 19, an appeals court upheld the conviction, despite global opposition. Lawal's attorney filed another appeal.
In the fall of 2002, another chain letter on the subject asked you to visit Oprah Winfrey's web site and participate through a link there. Oprah did discuss Amina Lawal's case on her show October 4, 2002, but that link is no longer active.
On October 29, 2001, the Nigerian national government took a hard-line stance on northern states' Islamic courts carrying out stonings and other capital punishments, stating that such sentences were not allowed under the country's constitution. Federal courts will address each case on appeal rather than try to force northern states to change their laws. Human Rights Activists fear this won't be enough.
Her appeal was to be March 25, 2003, but was rescheduled for June 3, because only three of the tribunal's required five members were available. The appeal and its delay have prompted another well-meaning petition drive, this time via Amnesty International's Spanish chapter:
Amnesty International is adamant about staying out of the judicial process as long as Lawal's right to legal representation, appeal and a fair trial are being respected, which they believe are. However, they maintain their call for the Federal government of Nigeria to "abolish the death penalty and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments at all level of the Nigerian legislation, including the Sharia penal legislation." They are calling upon those concerned to write Nigerian national authorities and "reiterate AI's concerns about punishments under Sharia penal legislation, such as the sentence to death on Amina Lawal, which breaches the international human rights instruments signed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
BreakTheChain.org recommends against signing any online petition (no matter how true or noble) or giving your personal information to any third party to act on your behalf. Amnesty International recommends personally written correspondence to officials because it will likely hold more power than a list of names and e-mail addresses. The Amnesty International campaign is well-designed and well-supported. However, as with all current-events-related chains, check that the link is still active before you forward it to friends, since it could be pulled at any time in response to developments in the case. Break this Chain.
Category: Armchair Activism