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International News Archive
December 01 - December 06, 2001


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This page contains news for the period December  01 through December 06, 2001.



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Monday, December 3, 2001

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Nigerian Sharia Court orders a stay of execution on sentenced woman

A story released today by Reuters reports that a Nigerian sharia court of appeal has ordered a stay of execution for a woman sentenced to be stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage.

The court granted the stay to allow Safiya Hussaini, 33, a divorced mother of five, to appeal her sentence by a lower sharia court in the northwest Sokoto state.

The judgement has sparked international and local outrage and could possibly lead to a constitutional showdown between the central government and regional authorities, which has threatened to intervene.

``The judge said the execution should be put on hold until the final determination of the woman's appeal by the higher court,'' said Sokoto state spokesman Nasirdeen Abubakar.

Hussaini is the first person to be sentenced to death since 1999, when regional governments first introduced the strict sharia code in predominantly Muslim parts of northern Nigeria.

The introduction of sharia has been highly controversial in Nigeria, where it has been introduced in more than a third of the 36 states.

Sunday, December 2, 2001

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Groups protesting Sharia court’s death sentence on Nigerian woman

A story released today by the All Africa Global Media reports that lawyers, non-governmental organizations are protesting a Nigerian sharia court for sentencing to death a pregnant divorcee and mother of four.

Criticisms have continued to trail the death sentence by stoning passed on Safiya Hussaini by an upper sharia court in Gwadabawa, Sokoto State on October 10. Safiya, a 30-year-old mother of four was alleged to have become pregnant after committing adultery with one Yakubu Abubakar, a 33-year-old man who denied responsibility for the woman's pregnancy.

Muhammed Bello Seyinnal, the trial court judge said that the convict confessed to committing adultery, an offense punishable by stoning to death based on Islamic law. The judge said that his judgment was based purely on Islamic jurisprudence. He ruled that since Safiya was an expectant mother, the sentence would take effect after she delivers and weans the child.

Her fate has attracted public interest. Bola Ige, minister for justice and attorney-general of the federation said the federal government would not fold its hands and watch Safiya stoned to death. He promised that the federal government would challenge the sentence passed by the sharia court. He said that by the 1999 constitution every citizen of the country had a right to life and that the federal government was determined to ensure that Safiya's right to life was not denied her.

But Janet Adeyemi, a member of the committee said at a press conference in Abuja, November 19, that the House of Representatives has had its hands tied, since according to her the sharia law under which Safiya was tried and convicted was recognised by the 1999 constitution. She said that the house committee could do little and that attempts to raise the matter by members as of urgent national importance were unsuccessful. She said that the committee had resorted to the use of non-governmental organizations, to try to save Safiya's life. Adeyemi reiterated the need to balance the provisions of the sharia with the right to life, adding that the constitution needed to be amended to resolve the divergent issues.

But Abubakar Sanyinma, commissioner for justice and attorney-general in Sokoto State insisted that the decision of the upper sharia court was irreversible. He said the federal government had no right to prevent the state government from executing any judgment passed by sharia courts in the state. He said that Safiya had the right to appeal to the Sharia Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court where there is a panel of sharia judges, and if she failed she would certainly face execution according to Islamic law.


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Commentary on marriage and life in Great Britain

A commentary written by Mary Riddel  and published today in the Observer (U.K.) delves into the psyche of the British people and how changes have brought men and women into a new definition of relationships. The commentary can be viewed by clicking to the link below.



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