European Parliament urges Nigerian authorities to release Mubarak Bala

  • post Type / Advocacy News
  • Date / 5 May 2023

In a resolution adopted during its April Plenary session, the European Parliament has condemned the use of “blasphemy” laws and called for the release of Mubarak Bala and singer Yahaya Aminu – both currently in prison in Nigeria.

The adoption of the resolution followed a debate on the risk of the death penalty and execution of singer Yahaya Sharif Aminu for “blasphemy” in Nigeria.  In 2020, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was sentenced to death by hanging by an upper Sharia court in Kano State. He had been accused of composing and sharing a song on social media that allegedly contained derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad.

Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, is currently serving a 24-year prison sentence. He was arrested in April 2020, and held without charge for over a year. He was later charged before the Kano State High Court for allegedly making “blasphemous” Facebook posts.

The Resolution urged the Nigerian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, drop all charges against him.” It also called “for the release of Rhoda Jatau, Mubarak Bala and others who face blasphemy allegations.”

The Resolution also emphasised that “blasphemy” laws “are in clear breach of international human rights obligations, (…) and contrary to the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom and freedom of expression.”

A recording of the Plenary session debate is available here (starts at minute 20:17).

Featured photo by Frederic Köberl on Unsplash

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