Two gay men facing death sentences for alleged sodomy have been released on bail by a Nigerian Islamic court after members of Congress voiced their concern to the Nigerian President about the treatment of gays in the African nation.
(Lagos) Two gay men facing death sentences for alleged sodomy have been released on bail by a Nigerian Islamic court after members of Congress voiced their concern to the Nigerian President about the treatment of gays in the African nation.
Yusuf Kabir, 40, and Usman Sani,18 were arrested in June and held until a hearing last month where a Sharia court judge ordered them to remain behind bars until a second hearing this week. (story)
Police said they were arrested while having sex in a public washroom. But, on Wednesday, the judge ordered their release.
"The prosecution has not brought its witnesses before this court today; I therefore grant bail to you both on the condition that each of you bring adults to stand as sureties," Islamic judge Mustapha Sani Saulawa ruled.
The pair are to return to court August 24. If police do not find witnesses the men could have their charges dropped.
The case comes only weeks after Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on arbitrary executions called for an immediate review of a case involving a 50 year gay old man sentenced to death by stoning. (story)
Alston stumbled across the man while on a UN tour of Nigerian prisons.
Alston said that the man told him he had been charged with sodomy on the word of a neighbor and brought before a Sharia court. Following a brief trial he was acquitted for lack of evidence.
But, according to Alston's report, the judge then asked the man if he had ever had sex with another man. When the man answered yes the judge convicted him of sodomy and sentenced him to death.
That case prompted a protest from 22 Democratic members of Congress. (story)
The letter was organized by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee; and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the senior Democratic woman on the House Committee on International Relations and the Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Rep.Tom Lantos (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations; and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), the senior Democrat on the International Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, were among the members signing the letter.
"We strongly urge you to intervene in this case to assure that this man's legal and human rights are respected and defended," the letter states. "We share the view of the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights who recently ended a visit to Nigeria with a call for the death penalty to be dropped in cases of homosexuality and for "immediate measures to review the entire proceedings" of this man's case in particular. "
The letter goes on to note: "We have been very supportive of your efforts to transform Nigeria from military to civilian rule, and we applaud in particular the role your country is playing to help foster stability in West Africa. We also continue to be supportive of U.S. aid to Nigeria, but we must tell you that Americans are also entitled to expect that countries that benefit from our humanitarian and economic assistance will not tolerate practices that are so clearly in violation of basic human rights."
It is not known if the letter was in part responsible for the granting of bail in the case of Kabi and Sani. The fate of the third man is unknown at this time.
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