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Blasphemy: United Nations Experts Call For Release Of Kano Musician Sentence To Death



United Nations human rights experts have asked for the immediate release of the 22-year-old singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who has been sentenced to death over an alleged blasphemous song shared on social media.

The experts called on Nigerian authorities on Monday in a joint statement titled “UN rights experts urge Nigeria to overturn death sentence for singer who shared song on WhatsApp.”

The experts said the death sentence ordered on August 10, 2020, should be overturned and that authorities should guarantee his safety and due process rights while he is appealing his conviction.

“We are deeply concerned over the serious lack of due process in Mr Sharif-Aminu’s case so far, especially reports that he has been held incommunicado and that he did not have access to a lawyer during his initial trial, a trial that was not open to the public,” they said.

According to them, artistic expression of opinion and beliefs, through songs or other media – including those seen to offend religious sensibilities – is protected in accordance with international law.

“The criminalisation of these expressions is unlawful. Music is not a crime,” the experts said.

A special rapporteur on cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said, “Application of the death penalty for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the Internet is a flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution.

“We are also gravely concerned about Mr Sharif-Aminu’s safety, in light of the death threats against him. Nigeria must take effective measures to protect Mr Sharif-Aminu, in detention as well as after his release.”

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