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Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning by a Regional Court in Katsina

State, Nigeria for having a child outside marriage. Her sentence was announced

on 23 March 2002, three days before the day of Safiya's acquittal.



Save Amina From Death by Stoning

Amina Lawal Must Not Face Death by Stoning

Open Letter to President of Nigeria

A PLEA from Mackie Blanton 


As some of you may have heard, a Nigerian woman was recently sentenced  to death--for having a child out of wedlock. Amina Lawal has been sentenced to death by STONING. She is to be buried up to her neck in the ground, after which her punishers will surround her and throw rocks at her head until her skull is crushed and she dies a painful and horrible death.

Surely, we must all feel equal shock and disgust at this sentence, and we need to remember that she has only thirty days to appeal her trial. Please go to the Amnesty International site at and sign the letter addressed to the President of Nigeria. It literally takes only a minute, and could help to save her life, as well as help put an end to this kind of cruel and disgraceful judgment in a country that calls itself a democracy.

Societies that sanction to death women who have been raped, or abandonned by a lover, often view the man as the victim--as a victim to women's wiles, as if men are driven beserk beyond their own moral control by the face or body of a woman. Such societies therefore reason that a woman's presence must be snuffed from the face of the earth. We must speak from our own moral outrage against such stupidity and ignorance.

Get the word out!  Pass this on!


Back in October 2001, 35-year old Safiya Hussaini  was condemned to death, by stoning, for allegedly committing adultery. International outcry led by Amnesty International ( the Merton Amnesty Group campaigned for Safiya - see campaign archive) helped save her life; she was acquitted on technical grounds by an appeal court. 

Now 30-year old Amina Lawal faces the same death sentence. Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning by a Regional Court in Katsina State, Nigeria for having a child outside marriage. Her sentence was announced on 23 March 2002, three days before the day of Safiya's acquittal.

Amina Lawal's Case - Her Trial and Sentence

When unmarried, Amina became pregnant. Local villagers had her arrested and she was brought before a Regional Court where she was charged with the crime of adultery Like Safiya, she had no legal representation and there are serious questions about whether the nature of the charges was adequately explained to her. 

Under the Katsina regional law, admitting to having a baby amounts to a confession to the crime of adultery. As in the case of Safiya Hussaini, the man identified as Amina's partner--the alleged father of her baby daughter-- was released. The court said there was insufficient evidence against him. 

For him to be convicted, he must either confess, or four other men must testify that they witnessed the adultery.  

With the help of a Nigerian women's rights group, Amina has appealed against the sentence. After several adjournments,  the appeal was rejected on Monday, August 19. A new appeal at a higher court has been lodged. 

Victims of Poverty

Like Safiya, Amina comes from an impoverished background. Both were married in their early teens (12 and 14 respectively) only to be divorced at a later stage and left to raise their children by themselves.

The softly spoken and largely unschooled Lawal told AFP that her main worries were the strain the case was putting on her parents and what would happen to her baby daughter Wasila if she is put to death.

Women's and Human Rights organizations in Nigeria have already highlighted the emerging pattern of people from poor backgrounds - particularly women - being the victims of cruel, inhumane and discriminatory sentences introduced by Regional laws in the states of northern Nigeria.

Amina's Fundamental Human Rights

In Nigeria, laws can be  introduced by Regional States which may be contrary to Federal Nigerian Law. Under the Regional Law of Katsina State, a death sentence can be imposed on any man or woman who has sex outside of marriage.

Under Federal Nigerian law, Amina has the right to have her life and personal dignity respected. This right is enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, which confirms the sanctity of human life. This right is also recognized by all the international and regional human rights declarations and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

These cases created a political storm in Nigeria. The Nigerian Federal Government recognizes that laws which discriminate against women are unacceptable, and that the death penalty is inhumane and inappropriate.

A week before Safiya's acquittal the Federal Minister of Justice wrote to Regional authorities to declare that these penalties are a contravention of the Nigerian constitution.

However, the Nigerian Constitution also protects individual States - such as Katsina State- from interference by the Nigerian Federal Government. Leaders of the Northern states have yet to respond in a positive manner to the Federal government's declaration.

Early hopes that the close alliance between Federal Government and the Governor of Katsina State would result in a positive outcome for Amina were dashed recently. A spokesperson for the Katsina State authorities, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said that the Governor would not intefere in the appeal process, and predicted that if the appeal was turned down, Amina Lawal would be executed.

"If the appeal court confirms her as guilty, she will be executed," he said. 

This will entail burying Amina  up to her waist and stoning her until she is dead.

What can YOU do to help

At this critical stage, it is of crucial importance to build on the successful campaign that saved Safiya.

It is vital that the Nigerian Federal Government is given support to fulfill its human rights commitments.

People from all round the world can play their part in encouraging Nigeria to do the right thing: to end inhumane and cruel sentences in its territory and to ensure human rights for all Nigerians.


You can help make a difference by encouraging the Nigerian government to focus on delivering its pledges to its own people and to the international community by writing to both the Nigerian and U.K. politicians.

Amina Lawal with her baby daughter Wasila (c)BBC

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Related files: Won't Be Stoned for Adulter