Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (25 June):
I am appalled by the execution of four people in Nigeria. Only recently, the Government reaffirmed its willingness to maintain the de facto moratorium which has been in place since 2006. The executions are even more shocking as an appeal was still proceeding in all of the cases. Nigeria has thus violated the internationally recognized minimum standards on the death penalty.
There is an imminent risk that a further convicted person will be executed. I call on Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan to try and persuade the competent governor to rescind the execution order. Furthermore, I expect the Nigerian Federal Government to ensure that human rights obligations which it entered into at international level are adhered to within Nigeria.
I know that the prisoners executed had been found guilty of serious crimes, and I have sympathy with the families of their victims. Nevertheless, the death penalty is an inhumane and cruel punishment. The German Government is against capital punishment under any circumstances and is campaigning for its universal abolition.
Four prisoners were executed in Edo state/Nigeria on 24 June. These were the first executions since 2006. The four men aged between 39 and 49 were condemned to death for murder in 1995, 1996 and 1998.
The Nigerian Federal Government gave assurances during the human rights dialogue with the EU in March 2013 that it would work to keep the moratorium in place. However, responsibility for the death penalty lies with the federal states. The appeals to institutions in Edo state by the Nigerian Government in Abuja and Nigerian NGOs failed to avert the executions. The EU also worked intensively to try and prevent the death sentences from being carried out.