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Blasphemy: Release musician sentenced to death, UN experts urge Nigeria

Blasphemy: Release musician sentenced to death, UN experts urge Nigeria

The United Nations human rights experts have called on Nigerian authorities to immediately release a 22-year-old singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, sentenced to death over an allegedly blasphemous song shared on social media.

The experts made the call on Monday in a joint statement titled ‘UN rights experts urge Nigeria to overturn death sentence for singer who shared song on WhatsApp’.
They noted that Sharif-Aminu was given a death sentence on August 10 by a Sharia court in Kano State over a song judged blasphemous that he performed and shared in a WhatsApp group.

The experts called for the death sentence to be overturned and for authorities to guarantee his safety and due process rights while he is appealing his conviction.

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“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.

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