BY CHIGOZIEM ELLEN ONUGHA ESQ
Human rights are those basic rights that every human being upon conception acquires by virtue of the presence of “life”. They are not bought, neither are they alienable. These rights are not defined by time. They do not wear-off upon a person’s committal of an offence (this has exceptions). These rights also are those rights which must be respected for peace to reign in a society.
There are some other characteristics which make human rights different from other rights. They are:
- One does not acquire them by virtue of position or office
- Unlike some other rights, disrespect of human rights may attract dire consequences.
Human rights are both divinely orchestrated and humanly stipulated by laws, so whichever way one looks at it, disrespect of human rights is a sin to both God and human laws.
BELOW ARE WAYS TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS:
- Education/sensitization of what human rights are, and the various types of human rights
- Setting-up of structures to help protect these rights. Structures like; relevant laws and policies.
- Implementation systems, like; courts to address issues of violation of human rights.
- Development of punishments against persons who disrespect these rights. These punishments would serve as warning to all others against disrespect of human rights.
Gracefully, these systems exist in Nigeria. The only obstacle to achieving a human rights violation free society is “sufficiency”. We may have these systems in place, but we must ask; do we have as much duplicates of these systems enough to go round? The answer is No. Let us take the systems listed above one after the other.
- Education/Sensitization – there is a saying that goes “until the day one dies, learning never ends”. Some persons even go as far as adding that even upon death, one learns of a different world and for one to be able to stay in that new world which is discovered upon death, one needs to learn things about the new world and keep learning to stay on track. As civil society organizations, we carryout projects on sensitization of persons on these rights, and once the project terminates, the sensitization/education terminates too. Sensitization of persons on these rights should be reoccurring. On this note, Lawyers Alert is doing a good job, because out of the need for this form of education, Lawyers Alert permanently has as its objectives to sensitise persons of these rights.
- Laws and Policies – There are laws in place to regulate violation of these rights, but implementation of these laws or policies pose a barrier. It may sound a bit cliché, but Nigeria has so many laws that enactment of laws may not be our problems, but implementation is.
- Courts – For a country like Nigeria with over 200million human population, the amount of courts we have are not enough. And so, issues concerning violation of human rights which should be treated urgently get to be treated without any sense of urgency.
- Punishments – punishment for violation of these rights sometimes are not commensurate. Therefore, more appropriate punishments need to be developed.