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Lawyers without borders join global outcry against death penalty

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Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France), also known as Lawyers Without Borders, yesterday, joined the global call for an end of death penalty.

The World Day Against the Death Penalty is marked on October 10, every year and this year’s theme is: “Access to counsel: A matter of life or death”.

Head of Office of ASF France in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, in statement to commemorate the day, said the theme highlighted the crucial role defence attorneys play in the outcome capital cases.

According to her, lawyers who handle sensitive cases involving human life require training, support and adequate resources to effectively represent their clients.

Reiterating the group’s commitment to enhancing access to justice for persons facing the death penalty in Nigeria, she said, “access to legal representation in capital cases is a pillar of the right to fair trial and must be guaranteed by all judicial systems not just in letters but also in practice.”

Uwandu stressed ASF France has provided specialised training to its support lawyers under the Saving Lives project – SALI, as part of its contribution to the effective representation of capital cases in Nigeria.

This, she said, equipped lawyers to provide pro bono legal aid to 149 persons facing the death penalty across seven states in Nigeria.

“Between 2018 and 2020, ASF France has trained 59 capital defence lawyers in Nigeria with the latest batch between October 7 and 8, 2020 in a debut virtual training session for 20 Nigerian lawyers with the Support of the French Embassy in Nigeria.

“While the world continues to move away from the use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, countries such as Nigeria that still retain it in their laws are urged to ensure that persons facing the death penalty receive the best form of quality and effective legal representation.

“This also translates to a call for better funding for the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria to strengthen its crucial role in the provision of legal aid to indigent persons in capital cases”, she added.

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