As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 14th World Day against Death Penalty, rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS), has asked the National Assembly to reconsider its stance on the application of death penalty for terrorism related cases.
HURILAWS in a statement on Monday, by its Senior Legal/Programmes Coordinator, Collins Okeke said it was concerned that despite the progressive abolition of the death penalty globally, Nigeria has opted to expand the scope of the death penalty by including acts of terrorism among the offenses punishable by death. The statement read: “The Human Rights Law Service (HURILAWS) is concerned that despite the progressive abolition of the death penalty globally, Nigeria has opted to expand the scope of the death penalty by including acts of terrorism among the offenses punishable by death.
“Often these offenses, which do not necessarily result in lethal consequences, are drafted in very broad and undefined language, meaning they could be applied to a wide variety of activities. “It has never been conclusively shown that the death penalty deters crimes more effectively than other punishments. The correlation between crime rates and the death penalty seems to be even less relevant in the case of terrorism, where the act is politically motivated, with often no cost-benefit calculation. “People committing terrorist acts are dedicated to their cause, which counteracts and neutralizes whatever legal threat is meant to deter them.
Some terrorists assume that they will die while engaging in acts of terrorism, therefore the threat of an execution does not serve as a deterrent for such acts. Moreover, many terrorism-related cases are never solved and terrorists who have not killed themselves in the act are rarely apprehended. “In response to growing terrorist threats, many countries have passed or amended antiterrorism laws. This appears to have a strong symbolic value: they provide politicians an easy and expeditious response to terrorism and demonstrate their apparent effectiveness in countering terrorism. However, it is encouraging that few countries have actually carried out executions.
“Moreover, the political use of the death penalty for terrorism by governments is not only ineffective against terrorism, but can also be exploited by terrorists themselves. Their position is reinforced by the countries’ violent response as they see themselves as martyrs, and even use it to justify future reprisals. The death penalty for terrorism can therefore risk contributing to extremism and violence. HURILAWS calls on Nigeria’s National Assembly to reconsider the application of death penalty for terrorism related cases.”
Meanwhile, World Day against Death Penalty, is a day set aside every year by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty to globally advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. The theme for this year is death penalty and terrorism.