Advocacy statements

Update on Mubarak Bala

  • Date / 2022
  • Location / Nigeria
  • Relevant Institution / International Humanist and Ethical Union
  • UN Item / Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights

Oral statement

International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 51st Session (12 September – 1 April 2022)

General Debate on Item 3

Mr. President,

We welcome the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, but regret that it does not reference the case of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala.

Mubarak is currently serving an unthinkable punishment of 24 years in prison for peacefully expressing his non-religious beliefs.

As an advisor to Mubarak’s legal team, I have observed a legal process that has been deeply prejudiced against him from the start.[1] I believe Mubarak was forced to plead guilty under duress, but the Kano Court who sentenced him failed to grant him the leniency he was rightfully due.

Mubarak’s case is part of a regressive trend against those who question or criticize religious ideas.

Since his sentencing, religious fanatics have attacked those they consider ‘blasphemers’ with impunity, including the violent murder by stoning of a female student in Sokoto State on the basis of a Whatsapp message.[2]

We call on the Council to send a clear message to Nigeria. Nigeria must overturn Mubarak’s unjust and disproportionate conviction. It must free him, immediately and unconditionally. And it must uphold the universality of human rights, even, and especially, with regards to minorities who hold dissenting views.

Thank you.


[1] Mubarak Bala has faced severe violations throughout the trial process, including being arbitrarily detained without charge for 15 months, denied legal counsel, denied bail, denied necessary legal treatment, and having his case subject to extended delays, detailed in further detail at: https://humanists.international/case-of-concern/mubarak-bala/

[2] https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/16/student-nigeria-murdered-over-blasphemy-allegation

Suggested academic reference

'Update on Mubarak Bala', Humanists International

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