The European Union (EU) and Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) France have begun training criminal defense lawyers on increasing legal aid to death row inmates.
Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, national director of ASF France, also known as Avocats sans frontières, said the training aimed to make legal services accessible and affordable for people on death row in various correctional centers across the country. country.
“The organization, in partnership with the EU and others, is training capital defense lawyers who have been selected from across the country and whose capacity is being built to better represent their clients who are at risk the death penalty,” she said.
Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said the selection of lawyers, who handle crucial defense cases, was done through an open and transparent means.
She said that out of the total number of 114 applications from lawyers across Nigeria, only 15 candidates were selected for the training.
“And we also have a balance between male and female lawyers,” she said.
She said the two-day training was organized in commemoration of this year’s World Day Against the Death Penalty with the theme: “Death Penalty: A Road Paved with Torture”.
She said that in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 6,000 people are on death row and Nigeria has the highest number of people on death row.
“We have over 3,000 people currently on death row in Nigeria. It is very worrying.
“And that is why we believe that World Against the Death Penalty 2022 presents us with yet another opportunity to reflect once again on whether or not we should continue to maintain the death penalty in our laws in Nigeria,” said- she declared.
She said that although a lot of efforts have been made in the country, much remains to be done.
She said that even though the constitution gives rights to life, it limits it at the same time and gives exceptions for execution.
She therefore called for political will to implement an official moratorium on the death penalty.
She said there should also be constitutional and legislative reforms.
According to the country director, the organization calls for a review of the use of the death penalty as it is often used disproportionately against the poor.
“These are the poor who can’t afford legal services to go through the whole trial and hire the best defense lawyers to avoid ending up on death row.
“Second, we say the death penalty is too absolute; the execution cannot be undone and there is always that chance of executing the innocent.
“And as long as that chance exists in every jurisdiction in the world, not just Nigeria, we cannot and must not continue to maintain the death penalty.
“Most importantly, studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter the most violent crimes more than any other form of punishment,” she said.