Three weeks on Mubarak Bala still in detention

Still no word from the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria

  • post Type / General news
  • Date / 19 May 2020

On 28 April 2020, Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested at his home in Kaduna, northern Nigeria. He has not been seen or heard from since. Three weeks on from his arrest, and despite mounting international scrutiny, Bala has still not had access to his legal representatives.

In response to our calls to action, Members and Associates across the globe have reached out to diplomatic representatives in their countries seeking their intervention on Bala’s behalf. As a result, we have seen the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) publicly condemn his arrest. More interventions by senior diplomats and experts in Freedom of Religion or Belief have been made privately.

While we know that Bala was initially held in detention in Gbabasawa police station, Kaduna state. Attempts, made by his legal team, to locate Bala following his transfer into the custody of Kano State Police Command have been unsuccessful. His prolonged detention without charge violates Bala’s rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of movement as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and international human rights law.

A photo of Mubarak from 2014

Given that Bala has been the victim of death threats and harassment since he renounced Islam in 2014, we are deeply concerned for his current wellbeing. Such concerns are compounded by reports that an anti-atheist platform was established on Facebook on 10 May.

Bala’s arrest followed a petition filed with the Police Commissioner of Kano Command on 27 April by S. S. Umar & Co. in which Bala was alleged to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad in his Facebook posts in violation of Section 26(1)(c) of the Cybercrimes Act, which criminalises insult of any persons due to their belonging to a group distinguished by their religion, among other characteristics, and is punishable by a fine and/or up to five years’ imprisonment. The petitioners also allege that Bala’s posts will incite the Muslim community and lead to public disturbance under Section 210 of the Penal Code of Kano State.

Humanists International and its member organizations continue to call for the Nigerian authorities to clarify Bala’s legal status and whereabouts, grant him access to his legal representatives, and ensure his safety. Ultimately, we are appealing for his immediate and unconditional release.

For more information on how you can support our campaign to secure Mubarak Bala’s release, go to: hmnts.in/Mubarak-Bala-Action-Alert

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