Summary executions


Nigeria: Ultimatum from the Joint Task force on the Niger Delta (JTF) to the Leaders of the Ughelli Community



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Nigeria: Ultimatum from the Joint Task force on the Niger Delta (JTF) to the Leaders of the Ughelli Community
Violation alleged: Death threats and fear of imminent extrajudicial executions
Subject(s) of appeal: General
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Nigeria has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent appeal dated 22 January 2007
I would like to draw your Excellency’s attention to information I have received regarding the current volatile security situation in Ughelli, Delta State.

According to the information I have received:


On Monday, 8 January 2007, Brigadier General Alfred Ilogho, the Commander of the Joint Task force on the Niger Delta (JTF) “Operation Restore Hope” issued a five day ultimatum to the leaders of Ughelli community in Delta State to produce the killers of a soldier and an oil worker, who were killed last week or face the wrath of the military.
I firmly condemn the abduction and murder of the soldier attached to the JTF and of the employee of the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation by youths of Ekuigbo Community, Ughelli while on their way to an oilfield in the area. I also support and call on your Excellency’s Government to make every legitimate effort to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.
However, I am seriously concerned by the threat made by Brigadier General Alfred Ilogho against the Ughelli community, especially in view of the fact that the community is under siege as soldiers have cordoned off the area. Movement in and out of the area is reportedly difficult, as soldiers have taken so-called strategic positions in the town. Similarly, about two armored tanks and eight Hilux Pickup vans have been sighted around the community.
While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, they would, if accurate, be extremely disturbing. If in fact any military operation is planned in relation to the Ughelli community, I would appeal to your Excellency’s Government to instruct Brigadier General Alfred Ilogho, the Commander of the Joint Task force on the Niger Delta (JTF) “Operation Restore Hope” and its troops, to comply with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These principles note, inter alia, that law enforcement officials should “as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms” and that “in any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life”. I would also like to draw your Excellency’s attention the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, adopted by the General Assembly resolution 34/169 (1979) which more succinctly stresses the limited role for lethal force in all enforcement operations.
If the information received is correct, and an ultimatum was issued which implied the threat of punitive action by the military if the demands were not met by the villagers, this would be an entirely unacceptable method of policing. It is made even more problematic by the conduct of the military in comparable situations which led to major human rights violations as described in my report on Nigeria to the Human Rights Council.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on this case to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged above accurate? If not so, please describe the investigations carried out to ascertain that the allegations are ill-founded.
2. Please provide any information as to the instructions issued to the military to desist from issuing ultimatums and threats of the type described, even in situations of considerable difficulty in pursuing effective law enforcement.
Nigeria: Deaths of Islamic militants in the Panshekara area
Violation alleged: Deaths due to excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
Subject(s) of appeal: Approximately 25 persons
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Nigeria has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Urgent Appeal dated 20 April 2007
I am writing in relation to reports of killings in the course of clashes between a group of Islamic militants and your Government’s security forces in the Panshekara area of Kano.
According to the information received:
A group of Islamic militants, numbering up to 300 including women and children, arrived in the Panshekara area of Kano on 17 April 2007 with the intention to avenge the assassination of a Muslim cleric killed in a Kano mosque on 13 April 2007. They attacked a police station and killed at least 12 policemen. Reportedly, a gun battle between the military and the militants ensued. According to statements of a military commander quoted in international media, “many” militants were killed. Other reports indicate that approximately 25 militants were killed, while nine were arrested. Subsequently, the militants reportedly established control over an area of the town. Your Government’s armed forces are reported to have cordoned off the area and engaged the militants holed up near some waterworks. The most recent reports indicate that it appears to be unclear whether the remainder of the militant group is still united in defence of a position or has in the meantime dispersed.
Allow me first of all to express unconditional condemnation of the attack against the police station and of the killing of police officers.
As noted above, the reports I have received concerning the events in Kano since 13 April 2007 do not, at this stage, allow me to have a clear picture of the circumstances under which your Government’s military forces killed numerous militants, nor of whether the military operations against the militants are ongoing. Nonetheless, and particularly in the light of reports that the militant group includes (presumably unarmed) women and children, I consider it appropriate to bring to your Government’s attention the principles governing under international law the lethal use of force in such law enforcement operations.
Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party, provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. Article 3 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (General Assembly resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979) and principle 9 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, 27 August to 7 September 1990), though not in themselves binding law, provide an authoritative and convincing interpretation of the limits the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of life places on the conduct of law enforcement forces facing allegedly violent crowds:
Article 3 states “Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.” It thus sets forth the twin safeguards of necessity and proportionality in the use of force.
Principle 9 reads:
“Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”
In order to assess whether the use of lethal force was proportionate to the requirements of law enforcement and necessary, there must be a “thorough, prompt and impartial investigation” (Principle 9 of the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions). This principle was reiterated by the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights in Resolution 2005/34 on “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” (OP 4), stating that all States have “the obligation … to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions”.
In the event that your Excellency’s Government was to consider the rules of international law governing armed conflict applicable to the incident, I would like to recall that international humanitarian law requires parties to an armed conflict to distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians, and to direct attacks only against combatants (Rules 1 and 7 of the Customary Rules of International Humanitarian Law identified by the International Committee of the Red Cross). In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life (Rule 15). It is at all times prohibited to kill enemy combatants in the power of your Government’s forces (e.g. because they have surrendered or been captured) or persons otherwise placed or de combat (Rules 47 and 89).
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights, reinforced by the appropriate resolution of the General Assembly, and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on this case to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the allegations in the above summary of the events accurate? Please describe the attack on the police station and the subsequent offensive by your Government against the militants? How many militants were killed by your Government’s forces? How many unarmed persons? How many of the militants were taken into custody?
2. What were the instructions given to the security forces before and during the operation in Panshekara? How did the security forces ensure compliance with the requirements of necessity and proportionality?
3. Please describe the circumstances under which the deaths of militants and, if any, of civilians occurred in Panshekara and the surrounding area since 13 April 2007. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case.
Finally, as I understand that there could be further military operations against the military group (which includes women and children), I urgently appeal to your Excellency’s Government to ensure that its security forces conform to the above mentioned principles governing law enforcement operations.
Nigeria: Persecution of Members of the Shia Community in Sokoto State
Violation alleged: Deaths due to attacks or killings by security forces
Subject(s) of appeal: At least 6 persons
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Nigeria has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 4 September 2007 sent with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and Special Rapporteur on the right to education
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding the persecution of members of the Shia community in the Nigerian state of Sokoto.
According to information received:
On 18 July 2007, Mr. Umar Danmashiyya, a Sunni cleric was shot while he was leaving his local mosque. The Shia community, which is a minority in the Nigerian state of Sokoto, has been collectively blamed for the killing of the Sunni cleric. Shia groups were attacked in residential areas by mobs carrying machetes. As of 21 August 2007, more than 70 homes have been destroyed, six Shia members have been murdered and more than 50 women and children are missing. Furthermore, the community’s centre, clinic and schools were also destroyed. Subsequent to street fights, the police arrested and detained 115 members of the Shia community, including its leader Mr. Kasimu Rimin Tawaye. Allegedly, those acts were carried out by a combined force of federal military, state police and mobs under police protection who use this assassination to discriminate against the Shia community of Sokoto.
We would like to recall that, as reiterated in Commission on Human Rights resolution 2004/37 on “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” (OP 4), all States have “the obligation … to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigation into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible, … and to adopt all necessary measures, including legal and judicial measures, in order to bring an end to impunity and to prevent the recurrence of such executions”. This obligation, affirmed also in the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee (see the Committee’s views in Arhuacos v. Colombia, Communication no. 612/1995, § 8.8), is indeed part and parcel of the obligation to respect and protect the right to life enshrined in Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to appeal to your Excellency's Government to ensure the right to freedom of religion or belief in accordance with the principles set forth in the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief and article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as well as of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We would also like to refer Your Excellency's Government to article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by your country in 1993, which consecrate everyone’s right to education. In this context we would like to bring your Excellency’s attention to the annual report 2005 of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education (E/CN.4/2005/50), where it is stated that security in schools forms part of the human right to education and that security means not only physical, psychological and moral safety but also a right to be educated without interruption in conditions conducive to the formation of knowledge and character development.
In the event that your investigations support or suggest the above allegations to be correct, we urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of the aforementioned persons are respected and accountability of any person guilty of the alleged violations ensured. We also request that your Government adopts effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency’s Government to safeguard the rights of the above-mentioned persons in compliance with the above international instruments.
Moreover, it is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters, when relevant to the case under consideration:
1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
2. Has a complaint been lodged by or on behalf of the alleged victims?
3. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. How is the right to education of children living in the affected areas being assured?
5. Is there any plan to reconstruct the destroyed schools? If yes, how and when is this going to be implemented?
Nigeria: Death Sentences of 7 Persons
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 7 males
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Nigeria has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 10 January 2008
I am writing concerning information I have received relating to executions of at least 7 prisoners on death row over the last 2 years.
According to information received:
At least 7 persons convicted in Kano state court were hanged in various prisons in Nigeria:
• 30 May 2006 - Kenneth Ekhone and Auwalu Musa were executed in Kaduna Central Prison. The information I have received alleges that neither man had a lawyer during their trials, and that they were not allowed to appeal against the conviction and sentence.
• 15 June 2006 - Salisu Babuga was executed in Jos prison. It is alleged that the execution was broadcast on radio, and that is how the family became aware of the execution.
• 2006 - At least four men (names unknown) were executed in Enugu prison.
While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the informed received, I would like to refer your Government to the applicable principles of international law. While capital punishment is not prohibited under international law, it is an extreme exception to the fundamental right to life. It may only be carried out in limited circumstances, and after all the guarantees for a fair trial are strictly observed (Little v Jamaica, communication no, 283/1988, Views of the Human Rights Committee of 19 November 1991, para. 10). In relation to the allegations that Mr Ekhone and Mr Musa did not have legal counsel at their trials, article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that everyone has the right to legal assistance, and to have legal assistance assigned to him where the interests of justice so require. In relation to the allegations that both men were denied the right to appeal the decision at first instance, article 14(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that everyone convicted of a crime has the right to have the conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher court.
With respect to the lack of public notice of these alleged executions, I would like to bring to your Government’s attention that resolution 2005/59 (20 April 2005), adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights, calls upon states to make available to the public information with regard to the imposition of the death penalty and to any scheduled execution. Transparency is one of the fundamental due process safeguards that prevent the arbitrary deprivation of life, and countries have a clear obligation to disclose the details of their application of the death penalty (see Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions, E/CN.4/2006/53/Add.3, 24 March 2006).
I am very concerned that I have received allegations of the application of the death penalty in Nigeria, given that no executions have been officially reported by your Government, and the occurrence of any executions of death row inmates over the last few years was denied by the Nigerian representative to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly (15 November 2007).
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these alleged incidents, I would be grateful for your cooperation and observations on the following matters:
1. How many people on death row have been executed in 2006 and 2007? Specifically, did the executions detailed above occur? Please provide names, locations and details of each of the executions of death row inmates which have occurred.
2. With respect to the alleged executions of Mr Ekhone and Mr Musa, were they provided with legal counsel, and were they given an opportunity to appeal their conviction and sentence?
3. What measures will be undertaken in the future to ensure that accurate and timely public reporting of executions of death row inmates takes place?
Pakistan: Death Sentence of Jawed Khan
Violation alleged: Non-respect of international standards relating to the imposition of capital punishment
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male
Character of reply: No response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Pakistan has failed to cooperate with the mandate that he has been given by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.
Allegation letter dated 28 February 2007

I would like to draw the attention of your Government to information I have received regarding Mr. Jawed Khan who is at imminent risk of execution for the murder of a shop keeper committed when he was under the age of 18. According to the information received:


Jawed Khan was charged in 1996 together with two others and convicted before the anti-terrorism court in Faisalabad on 20 February 1998. It is my understanding that Mr. Waheed Iqbal, who was convicted alongside Khan, was sentenced to death and executed on 9 January 2007. Jawed Khan’s appeals against conviction were rejected by the Lahore High Court and then the Supreme Court on March 20, 2001 and November 8, 2001 respectively. His mercy petition was subsequently rejected by the President. It is my understanding that the issue of age was not raised before the trial court or the appellate courts by his counsel, and that a session judge dismissed Jawed Khan’s application on 11 March 2004 apparently on the basis that photocopies of school leaving and birth certificates giving his date of birth as 3 April 1982, appeared to be fictitious. It is my understanding that he filed an appeal before the Lahore High Court, due to be heard in late February 2007.
While I do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the allegations regarding this specific case, I would like to draw your attention once again to the fact that the execution of Mr. Jawed Khan would be incompatible with the international legal obligations of Pakistan. Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child expressly provides that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age. General Comment No. 10 (2007) of the Committee on the Rights of the Child provides in paragraph 22 “If there is no proof of age, the child is entitled to a reliable medical or social investigation that may establish his/her age and, in the case of conflict or inconclusive evidence, the child shall have the right to the rule of the benefit of the doubt”.
I would respectfully appeal to the Government of Pakistan to take all necessary measures to comply with international human rights law and to prevent executions of offenders who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. This includes, most urgently, the suspension of the execution of Mr. Jawed Khan.
It is my responsibility under the mandate provided to me by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to my attention. Since I am expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, I would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged above accurate? If not so, please share all information and documents proving their inaccuracy. Please confirm whether a medical or social investigation has been carried out to establish Mr. Jawed Khan’s age, given that documents pertaining to his age were disputed.
2. Please provide details of the appeal proceedings in Mr. Jawed Khan’s case before the Lahore High Court scheduled for February 2007.


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