CELSIR reacts, says execution of death row inmates as decongestion strategy is worrisome

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The request by the Minister of Interior,  Rauf Aregbesola, for the execution of death row inmates as a way to decongest Correctional Centers across the country has been condemned by a group under the banner of the Centre for Legal Support and Inmate Rehabilitation, CELSIR.

At the official commissioning of the Osun State Command Headquarters of Correctional Office Complex in Osogbo, the Minister of Interior, charged the State Governors with signing the death warrants of inmates on death row.

While lamenting the overcrowding in the country’s correctional facilities, the Minister stated that the total population of inmates was 68,747. He also stated that 50,992 inmates are awaiting trial, while 17,755 are convicted inmates, 3008 of whom are on death row.

According to the statistics provided by the Minister, 76 percent of total inmates are awaiting trial, while only 4 percent are sentenced to death, according to a statement signed by its Executive Director, Aladesanmi Joke. The group is concerned about the call to execute the 4% of the condemned population.

They claimed that some of those sentenced to death were victims of an unfair trial and that their convictions were based on evidence obtained through torture. It will be an injustice to execute them.

They said, “From the given statistics, it is glaring that congestion and overcrowding of correctional centers are due to the high number of awaiting trial inmates which form 76% of the entire inmate population. CELSIR, therefore, finds it highly disturbing and worrisome that the Honourable Minister has identified the execution of death row detainees who are just 4% of the total inmate population as a viable means of decongesting the Correctional Centers. We expect that the Honourable Minister would have painstakingly addressed the overwhelming issue of delay in the dispensation of justice which has contributed to the high percentage of pretrial detainees

“In the absence of a just and effective criminal justice system, many of the death row inmates are victims of unfair trials whose convictions are based on torture-tainted evidence with inadequate legal representation. CELSIR vehemently states that executing a death row inmate in the face of such a dysfunctional criminal justice system will culminate into an avalanche of injustice that will be counterproductive.”

The Group called for speedy dispensation of justice and rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates as contained in the Correctional Service Act, 2019

They also called for joining countries like Sierra Leone and Malawi to abolish the death penalty. They also advised against signing death warrants against the inmates on death row

“To address the prevalence issue of congestions in the Correctional Centers, CELSIR strongly advises the Government to focus on the speedy dispensation of justice and ensure effective rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates as contained in the Correctional Service Act of 2019.

“CELSIR calls on the Government to refrain from signing any death warrant but instead join countries like Malawi and Sierra Leone in adopting an official moratorium towards the abolishment of the death penalty while also commuting all death sentences to life imprisonment.” the group said

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