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Social Justice and Human Rights

By Kyenpya Katkuk Esq

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Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political, social rights and opportunities.

It may be broadly understood as fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.

Social justice refers to:
1. Equal rights
2. Equal opportunities
3. Equal treatment.

Bearing in mind the theme of this year’s Social Justice Day ” Closing the Inequalities Gap ” I would be sharing some interesting facts that would be gender specific to women and how to close the inequality gap.

Gender inequality in Nigeria is influenced by different cultures and beliefs. In some parts of Nigeria women are considered subordinate to their male counterparts. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not just a basic human right but it is crucial for a sustainable future.

Poor countries have a monopoly on gender inequality. There are significant disparities in health, education and bargaining powers within marriage in countries with low GDP per capita.

According to the World Economic Forum here are some interesting facts :

1. Women are 47% more likely to suffer car crashes in a car because car safety features are designed for men.

2. 33,000 girls become child brides everyday.
This vary between communities because girls are not valued as highly as boys and marrying them at a young age transfers the economic burden to another family.

3. Women in rural parts of Africa  spend more time collecting water to help their household. Due to the lack of infrastructure, combined with the expectations that women should meet up to their household duties and limited employment opportunities for women means that they shoulder unequal burden of gathering firewood and water for their families.

4. Only 6 countries give women equal legal working rights as men.

Belgium, Denmark, France,Luxembourg and Sweden.
A typical economy gives women three quater of the rights of men in measured areas.

5. 22% of all Professionals are women compared with 78% who are male. This accounts for the gender gap that reflects in the STEM skills gap.
Researchers say that “Women usually avoid scientific pursuits because of their self views”.

Inequality remains one of the biggest obstacles to shared prosperity. No country, no economy, no company, or community can meet today’s  challenges or achieve its potential until it’s people can achieve theirs.

According to the World Economic Forum, it would take about 108 years to close the gender gap. The biggest gaps to close are in the economic and political empowerment dimensions which would take 202 and 107 years to close.

Conclusively, when women and girls are valued as much as boys and men, when countries invest in their health, education and skills training, when they give women greater opportunities to participate in the economy, manage incomes, own and run businesses, give access to land and loan facilities. The benefits would cause a ripple effect to their children, families, communities and to the economy and thus the, issues of social justice such as equal rights, equal opportunities and equal treatment would would aid in closing the gap.

Recommendations:

1. More women should be empowered and have access to infrastructures like health and education.
2. More girls should be enrolled in schools to hinder child marriage.

3. More girls should be encouraged to take STEM related courses.

4. There should be an increase in women’s political participation.

5. Organizations and businesses should employ more women compared to men to close the gender gap.

6. Women should support other women.

7.  Family friendly policies should be put in place in organizations and businesses to optimize women’s productivity in the workplace.

8. Challenge stereotypes and gender norms.

Kyenpya Katkuk is the Executive Director of Girl to Woman Development Initiative.

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

 

 

 

 

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CONSTANCE NKWOCHA & 15 ORS V. THE FCT MINISTER & 5 ORS: JUDGEMENT IMPLICATIONS AND WAY FORWARD

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IMPLICATIONS

Following the recent judgement from the afore-stated case, it is without ambiguity or misunderstanding inconsistent with any law in Nigeria misinterpreting the criminality or otherwise of sex work in Nigeria.

Before judgement was given in the instant case, sex work was dragged by agencies of the Nigerian government as constituting an offence without any substantial legal backing.

Judgement from this case would do the following:

  1. Hopefully guide Nigerian government agencies in their operations against women whom they perceive as being sex workers
  2. Guide other Nigerian courts in delivering judgements in cases of similar nature
  3. Go a long way in assisting human rights defenders in taking up cases of similar nature, in Nigeria

WAY FORWARD

While Lawyers Alert is exploring the possibilities of going on appeal, it has met with Heartland Alliance International on the possible way forward for the above stated judgement and how best to execute possible plans. However, for enormous success to emerge from this development, all hands must be on deck. Stakeholders working on issues of this nature are encouraged to be part of this process.

Consequently, there is need for other International Development Actors to encourage the process by joining Lawyers Alert and Heartland Alliance International to maximize this rare opportunity in eradicating all forms of discrimination against sex workers, as well as prevent subsequent and foreseen mayhem which may arise.

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that all articles on this page are of the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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The Sanctity of Human Life and How to Stop Terrorism in Nigeria

By Sunday Adaji Esq

 

In the UK-Africa summit held recently, Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister, said: “Africa is the future and UK has a huge and active role to play in that future.”

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Boris Johnson’s quote above explains the need for cooperation, collaboration and interdependence. For over a decade, Nigeria has been having serious security challenges. The challenges have become worse few years back due to the farmers-herdsmen clash. Hundreds of thousands of civilians, soldiers and other law enforcement agents in the insurgencies. Statistics shows that the number of people killed by the herdsmen within a few years far outnumber those killed by Boko Haram since over a decade when Boko Haram has been on rampage.

From the look of things, terrorism is not likely going to be eliminated in Nigeria in a jiffy. Just when we start relaxing and thinking that Boko Haram has been degraded, they would emerge from nowhere and cause havoc and returned to Sambisa forest. Boko Haram troop has no respect to the sanctity of human life. They kidnap and kill innocent citizens in cold blood. Apart from Boko Haram and herdsmen, there are are dare devil criminals who go about kidnapping people and demanding ransom for their release. In some cases, the kidnappers end up killing the victims and dumping their bodies in the open.

Our military are doing their best they can to contain the terrorists but they are yet to find an answer to the Boko Haram puzzle.

The Answer

I think the answer is collaboration and partnership. We commend the effort of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, for initiating the idea of the Multi-national Task Force, comprising the soldiers of some neighboring countries. I also think that we should seek the support of other international communities. We have seen the role France is playing in fighting terrorists in Mali. We have seen how the US military was able to deal with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. We have seen how collaboration had brought about massive success.

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This brings us back to Boris Johnson’s quote cited at the beginning of this article. He said Africa is the future and that UK has a huge and active role to play in that future. If his words are not mere political statement, then, one area UK need to play a huge and active role in Africa is the security situation in Nigeria. It is okay to forge economic and social partnership with African countries, but if lives and properties are not secured, no partnership can succeed. Just as we need UK, we also need the US. With the support of the duo, this war against Boko Haram will end in a jiffy.

We urge our government to explore the area of collaboration and together we will restore peace in Nigeria in particular and in Africa as a whole.

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

 

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Choosing the Right Approach for Promoting Human Rights in Nigeria.

By Leslie Whyte, ICT / Media Officer

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Documenting human rights abuses is the heart of human rights work. The effectiveness of human rights documentation tool depends on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the evidence gathered. It can contribute to educating and organizing as well as advocating at a political or legislative level. Government leaders have been enlightened through documentation of human rights violations. The importance of human rights violation documentation for both for victim and the perpetrator, cannot be underestimated.

Documentation is about collecting stories, establishing truths and “sounding alarms.” Success can depend on one’s ability to access those stories and give meaning to them, for example, through showing patterns of abuse. Since human rights violations are often replete traumatic experiences and often happen to people who are severely marginalized and oppressed. A significant degree of empathy and understanding of the circumstances surrounding the incident is required as much as understanding the incident itself. Documentation requires serious thought and preparation, and a methodology that respects the dignity of the individual whose rights have been violated. Leadership by or involvement of those directly experiencing the abuse is an important principle in designing and implementing documentation projects.

Documentation can also be used as a capacity-building exercise, and the process is as useful and important as its outcome. NGO allies, lawyers, community members, and others can and should be encouraged to participate capacity building on documentation. While documentation can be used as an educational and organizing tool, advocacy helps in promoting documentation and brings change.

For about four years now, Lawyers Alert have been monitoring and documenting reported violations. Lawyers Alert have also developed a web-based tool where such reports are duly documented. This tool has the advantage of not only capturing the violations but also analyzing same according to location, age, type of violations, sex, etc. The analysis of these violations provides a scientific and accurate picture of the SRHR and Petty Offences situations in Nigeria. These violations reports are being shared with organizations working on SRHR in Nigeria, both local and international, including state actors like the National Human Rights Commission and the National Parliament. Reports of interventions are being put together to get state actors to operate based on the submitted data captured.

Documentation is a process of strategic and systematic gathering of quantitative and qualitative data. This process consists of several activities, namely:

  1. determining what information is needed and establishing means for acquiring it;
  2. Recording the discovered information and storing such in appropriate containers (called documents) or collecting already-existing documents containing the needed information;
  3. Organizing and analyzing documents to make them more accessible; and
  4. Actually providing the reports to users who need the information for advocacy.

 

In conclusion, documentation builds a strong platform for advocacy for it provides evidence that can contradict what governments or newspapers are reporting.

An important lesson learned is to review the impact of the documents on particular human rights efforts and store data safely.

 

References:

www.lawyersaletng.org

www.newtactics.org

www.opensocietyfoundations.org

 

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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My Experience with Kabusa Market women

By Elvis Torkuma. Project Officer.

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We carried out need assessment in Kabusa a community within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Municipal Area Council, (AMAC). The need assessment was on Gender Based Violence, (GBV), the report showed that market women and sales girls suffers severe physical violence in this area. We then drafted a project plan on how to carry out legal literacy training with these women and girls. We proposed through Community leaders, Market women association and faith based organizations for a one day training on gender based violence in this Community, our proposed project was approved by these strong and influential community based institutions.

We then organized project implementation team, I, project officer, legal officer, Ellen Onugha, Media, Leslie Whyte and money bag as I do call him, Mr yemi, financial director, we did the agenda and sent to the above stated institutions. The meeting was held at the market square in other to make it easy women to attend, more than eighty( 80) market Women attended, there was good music on arrival, we started with registration but it became overwhelming due to the crowd, we then did brief introduction of key participants like the women leaders and our team.

The market women leader did the opening prayer and declared the event open, Miss Ellen the legal officer facilitated the first session on domestic violence, what to do violence occur, where to report  violation and our free legal services, she was very clear and patient as she explained everything  in details to them, after her session the women were happy and excited, after her session Mr Yemi was not left out, he also contributed on the same issue of domestic violence and reason why women must stand up against and fight for their rights, after his session, I also contributed by explaining what domestic violence is but in pigin English in other to enable them understand it more. The next session was questions, comments and contributions, it was an amazing experience as most women came out to share their experiences on domestic violence, gender inequality and lack of laws and policies to protect women and the girl child, many of them thank Lawyers Alert for bringing such information at no cost to them.

After comments, answers, contributions and suggestions, Ellen the legal officer then told the  market women that Lawyers Alert will leave  contact numbers for them to enable them report issues of gender based violence and other human rights abuses to us, she also assured them that Lawyers Alert will provide them with legal representations, mediation and psycho socio supports, this information further threw these  market women into celebration mood, they  thank God for directing us to them, before we could even finish the training, we had received more than ten ,(10) unverified issues of gender based violence. Market women leader and her team also brought three women for us to provide them with legal assistance narrating how their husbands have turned them into punching bags; we received the information and ended Kabusa Market Women training on gender based violence.

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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LAWYERS ALERT’S WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2019 CELEBRATION

By Ozobulu S. Precious Esq

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The UN World Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th of December annually. This day was set aside by the United Nations in commemoration of the launch of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and to also use the occasion to create awareness on issues surrounding Human Rights across the world. It targets to hold governments to enhance the protection and defense of Rights and to also hold governments around the world to account for violations of Rights. Being a Rights based Civil Society Organization, Lawyers Alert joined the rest of the World to commemorate the date by putting up a panel discussion with key stakeholders to analyze the Human Rights situation in Nigeria against the backdrop of the theme for the year which was “Youths Stand Up for Human Rights”

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Goal of the project:

To commemorate the World Human Rights day 2019 with a view towards increasing the protection and defense of Human Rights in Benue State and Nigeria

Objective of the Project:

  • To bring together 30 Human Rights activists to discuss and analyze issues around Human Rights in Nigeria with a view towards putting up effective recommendations to the identified issues
  • To increase the awareness and sensitization on human Rights issues through the publication of the proceedings in at least 2 Major tabloids.

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Proceedings:

The project started with the identification and mobilization of 30 participants cutting across different groups including Youth groups, Media, Faith based Groups, Student Union, Professional bodies, Public Institutions etc. The event proper took place on the 10th of December, 2019 at Makurdi Luxury Suite, Judges Quarters. A total of 31 participants were in attendance cutting across the aforementioned groups. The meeting commenced with a word of prayer after the arrivals and registration, the participants introduced themselves afterwards. An welcome address was given by the Programs Director of the Head office who stood in for the President of Lawyers Alert. Shortly afterwards, the facilitator of the panel discussion was called upon to kick start the event. Five (5) panelists were invited to partake in the discussion. The invited panelists included the State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission, Makurdi Field Office, The State Chairperson of FIDA, The Program Officer of Pro Bono Lawyers, a legal Officer from Lawyers Alert. Two of the panelists did not turn up including The National Human Rights Commission and FIDA. FIDA however came in late while National Human Rights Commission called and tendered their apologies. To make up for the absenting members, Maria Okorie, The Executive Director Global Women Health Rights and Empowerment Initiative (G-WHREI) was conscripted into the panel discussions.

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The Panel discussions commenced with the Moderator Solumtochukwu Ozobulu Esq giving a broad overview of the discussion. She introduced the panelists and led in the definition of Human Rights.  The discussion was then steered towards identifying what human rights were and how they affect the youth. Since the theme of the day was focused on youths standing up for rights, the panelists explored the laws explored the laws surrounding Human Rights as they affect the youth, the reason the UN chose the  theme for the year, how youths can stand up for Human Rights, why youths should stand up for Human Rights and the consequences for not standing up for Human Rights. There was a comments, question and answer sessions where participants made comments, asked questions and contributions to the conversation. There were recommendations made at the meeting which include the following

  • Youths should develop a strong interest in Human Rights issues
  • Youths should develop their capacity on Human Rights Issues
  • Youths embark on constructive advocacy as champions
  • Youths should also be involved in governance issues like budgeting, access to social services, etc

In another development, Lawyers seized the opportunity to introduce our petty offenses project with focus on LACDOCK T, a web based tool for monitoring and documenting petty offenses in Nigeria.

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Conclusion:

The meeting came to an end at about 12:30 pm with a vote of thanks from Jerome Uneje, the Momitoring and Evaluation Officer. She thanked the participants for coming and urged them to always honour LA’ invitations.

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that all articles on this page are of the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated

 

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A CHILD AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY SOCIETY

By Chigoziem Ellen Onugha

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Tracing from the biblical assertion;

“Children are the heritage of the Lord.

Children are rewards from the Lord.

Children are like young man’s arrow.

Children are the source of joy and happiness.

They are rewards from God on high.

Young they may be now, but great tomorrow.

The Lord Himself has placed them high, above all gods and mighty men.

So, why not come and join the blessed to make friends with God’s heritage.”

 

This piece is so notable that it was translated into a song. Something interesting that every child could relate to. For me, this is the most popular children’s Christian song, and a large amount of us sang this song while growing up, at bible study classes.

Nelson Mandela in one of his speeches said, and I quote;

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Wess Stafford, President Emeritus of Compassion International once said, and I quote;

“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.”

 

No matter how one looks at it, the importance of a child is never in question. It is unfortunate that children are not treated same way they are sent. One important thing people have refused to learn is the fact that every man was once a child, and whichever way a society turns out, is dependent on how that child who would someday become a man is treated.

Putting it in our traditional setting, there is an Igbo adage that goes;

“O bughi otu onye na-azu nwa”.

The above adage simply means that a child is not raised by one person. Grooming and care for children is far beyond what the parents of any child can offer. It is the duty of a society to care for and raise every child found in it.

Sometime ago, I was having a discussion with a friend. The discussion was centered on the depth of insecurity and bad leadership in our society, and a further discussion on the foundation of corruption which translates into bad leadership ensued. We discussed so much that we traced the foundation of bad leadership to how each family and the society cares for and raises every child.

Children are like a foundation. Except it is strongly built, whatever that is built on it cannot stand. Consequences for negligence on children is eternal, because it translates into what they society is.

CHILD RIGHTS V HUMAN RIGHTS

Children constitute the most vulnerable section of every society, and when we talk about rights, we oftentimes forget about child rights which is critical and an essential part of human rights.

In my own definition of child rights, I would say; Child rights are those rights that need you and I who are adults and above all members of the society, to be protected, to be respected and to be observed.

Unlike we who are grown and can enforce our rights suo moto, a child needs you for his rights to be enforced. These rights are special. We must respect that.

CONCLUSION

We should learn to give more attention to those things that can not survive except we make them survive.

“Every child is an example of the future, and every future is an example of a society”.

CAVEAT

Lawyers Alert hereby puts our readers on notice that this article is based on the writers opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of the organization except otherwise stated.

 

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