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Category Archives: Human Rights

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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THE PARODY OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND THE LGBTIQ COMMUNITY IN NIGERIA

By Victor Eboh Esq, Reproductive Right Officer

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Sometime in 2018, one PAMELA ADIE, a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, approached the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria, for the registration of an organization with the name, (LESBIAN EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVE), whose goal was to advocate for the rights of female sexual minorities. The Corporate Affairs Commission contended that the name could not be approved because it was misleading, offensive, contrary to public policy and violates an existing law that prohibits same sex unions and associations in Nigeria.

Many adherents and sympathizers have wondered and questioned the veracity and otherwise behind the sentiments of the commission.

This piece, seeks to draw a line of contrast and spell out the parody between the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of Association, and the plight of the LGBTIQ community in Nigeria. But before we get down to brass tacks, let us first consider a general overview of the concept….. Freedom of Association.

 

CONCEPT OF FREEDOM

The word Freedom, has been succinctly rendered by Oxford Advanced Dictionary, as ‘the condition of being free, the power to Act or Speak or Think, without externally imposed restraints.’

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION on the other hand, encompasses both an individual’s right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interest of it’s members and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria.

According to the Human Rights House Foundation, Freedom of Association is one of the most basic rights enjoyed by humans. It ensures that every individual is free to organize and to form and participate in groups, either formally or informally.

Freedom of association involves an individual’s right to come together with other individuals to collectively express, promote, pursue and/or defend common interests without interference, and the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members.   The right to freedom of association protects associations formed to undertake any activity or pursue any objective that an individual can undertake or pursue alone, provided that those activities or objectives are lawful. Freedom of association is a fundamental human right that is crucial to the functioning of a democracy and an essential condition for the exercise of other human rights. It provides space for the development of civil and political society, an arena for people to express different views, values or interests and a platform for such views, values or interests to be heard. Freedom of association complements and consolidates other individual freedoms and without it, individuals may not express themselves as a group, defend their common interests and positively contribute to the development of their societies.

 

BACKGROUND TO THE PRINCIPLE OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The principle of freedom of association constitutes one of the basic tenets of the International Labor Organization (ILO) that was established by the TREATY Of VERSAILLES Of 1919, (source: Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa)  in the wake of the first world war to improve the condition of workers and achieve universal peace through social justice.  The ILO conventions on freedom of association were, and continue to be, primarily focused on the protection of the right to organize and bargain collectively.

 

Freedom of association is closely linked with the freedom of assembly and both are protected by Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The right is interrelated with other human rights and freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression and opinion and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Giving the freedom of association protection in national and international law was not primarily to protect individual interests, but rather to seek to secure a more equitable distribution of power within the working environment and society as a whole. But individuals do deserve legal protection in this as other contexts so that their conscience, religious beliefs, freedom of expression, bodily integrity and so forth are safeguarded.

Consequently, freedom of association is both an individual and a collective human right.

 

LEGAL FRAMEWORK GOVERNING THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The combined efforts of both the Domestic, Regional and International frameworks, all ensure equality of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

DOMESTIC LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(1999) as amended, remains the ground norm of the land, and it is sacrosanct. The extent of its supremacy is spelt out in Section 1(3) to wit: ‘if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void’

Of specific interest to the subject matter are the unambiguous provisions of Sections 38, 39 & 40

Section 38(1) ‘ Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…..”

Section39(1) “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and information without interference.”

Section 40 “ Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest

 

REGIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Article 10(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights provides that “everyone shall have the right to free association provided that he abides by the law.”

Articles 12(3), 27(2) and 28 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance guarantee the right to freedom of association.

ACHPR/Res. 5(XI)92: Resolution on the Right to Freedom of Association (1992)

  • The competent authorities should not override constitutional provisions or undermine fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and international standards;
  • In regulating the use of this right, the competent authorities should not enact provisions which would limit the exercise of this freedom;
  • The regulation of the exercise of the right to freedom of association should be consistent with state’s obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

 

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and association.”

Similarly Article 22(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

The second paragraph of Article 22 of the ICCPR states that no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right “other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society.”

Article 5(ix) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination also provides for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 7(c) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women obligates states to ensure participation, by women, in non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country.

Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has similar provisions to the ICEDAW.

“States have an obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs and human rights defenders… seeking to exercise or to promote their rights and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

– UN Human Rights Council Resolution 21/26 (2012)

 

  • Article 11(1) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Article 11(2) of the European Convention states that “no restriction shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protections of the rights and freedoms of others.”

The European Convention no. 124 on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations gives recognition to the formation of associations, foundations and other private institutions

The American Convention on Human Rights Art 16(1) states that “everyone has the right to associate freely for ideological, religious, political, economic, labour, social, cultural, sports, or other purposes.”

 

DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE STATE IN ENSURING FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

It is the responsibility of the state to respect, protect and facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of association.

States have a negative obligation to refrain from any interference with the right to freedom of association. It is responsible for violations of this right when the infringement occurs as a result of state interference or its failure to secure the right in domestic law and practice.

In Civil Liberties Organization v. Nigeria, Comm. No. 101/93 (1995), ACHPR, the Commission held that “freedom of association is enunciated as an individual right and it is first and foremost a duty for the state to abstain from interfering with the free formation of associations. There must always be a general capacity for citizens to join, without state interference, in associations in order to attain various ends.”

In International Pen and Others (on behalf of Ken Saro-Wira) v. Nigeria, ACHPR Comm. No 154/96 (1998), the African Commission found a violation of the right to freedom of association where the government took action against an association due to disapproval of its actions.  “Communication 154/96 alleges that Article 10.1 was violated because the victims were tried and convicted for their opinions, as expressed through their work in MOSOP. In its judgment, the Tribunal held that by their membership in MOSOP, the condemned persons were responsible for the murders, guilt by association, it would seem furthermore that, government officials at different times during the trial declared MOSOP and the accused guilty of the charges, without waiting for the official judgment. This demonstrates a clear prejudice against the organization MOSOP, which the government has done nothing to defend or justify. Therefore the Commission finds a violation of Article 10.1.” (at para 108).

 

The state has a positive obligation to ensure respect for the right to freedom of association. This includes an obligation to protect associations from interference by third parties and non-state actors.

Further, the state has a positive obligation to enact legislation an/or implement practices to protect the right to freedom of association from the interference of non-state actors, in addition to refraining from interference itself. The principle extends to cases of infringement committed by private individuals that the state could or should have prevented.

The positive obligation of the state to facilitate the exercise of the right includes creating an enabling environment in which formal and informal associations can be established and operate. This may include an obligation to take positive measures to overcome specific challenges that confront certain persons or groups such as minorities, people living with disabilities, women and youth etc. in their efforts to form associations.

 

States have an obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs and human rights defenders, seeking to exercise or to promote their rights.

It is first and foremost a duty for the state to abstain from interfering with the free formation of associations. There must always be a general capacity for citizens to join, without state interference, in associations in order to attain various ends.

Freedom of association also protects the right to refuse to join an association. There is no right for any individual to join a particular association if other members of the group decide not to include them or to expel them on the basis that their membership was not compatible with the aim and interests of the association. However, in relation to trade unions, if a decision not to include a person has adverse employment consequences, any such decision must not be unreasonable or arbitrary.

The right to freedom of association protects against the interference of the State in both the right to form an association and the right to join or remain a member of an existing one. The state is also obligated to guard against interference with the right by non-state actors and facilitate the exercise of freedom of association by creating an enabling environment in which associations can operate.

 

  • IT SHOULD FURTHER BE NOTED THAT Associations have the right to participate in matters of political and public debate, regardless of whether the position taken is in accord with government policy or advocates for a change in law.

“There is nothing…to suggest that it is immoral or unlawful to persuade those in power to change certain laws as long as that is done lawfully and peacefully. If the change advocated for is in the views of the lawmakers, likely to lead to or promote unlawfulness or any other undesirable situation or consequences, they are perfectly entitled to refuse to accede to such suggested changes. To refuse the applicants an opportunity to come together and register an organization to carry out peaceful and lawful advocacy for legal reforms…clearly violates their rights under the [Constitution]”

Thuto Rammoge v. Attorney General of Botswana, case no. MAHGB-000175-13 (High Court).

Legislation and policy concerning associations must be uniformly applied and must not discriminate against any person or group of persons on any grounds such as age, gender, gender identity, health condition, religion or belief, sexual orientation or other status. Membership or non-membership in an association shall not constitute grounds for the discriminatory treatment of persons.

Although an ‘association’ must have some degree of continuity, it need not have any formal or legal status (including legal personality) in order to be protected by international law.

The state cannot effectively negate the freedom of association by generally declaring the objectives of associations to be unlawful.

 

LEGAL EXCEPTIONS THAT NEGATES THE FULL ENJOYMENT OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

International human rights law allows restrictions to be imposed on rights where those restrictions are;

  • Provided by law,
  • Serve as a legitimate aim; and
  • Are necessary in a democratic society.
  • Prescribed by law– This implies that any restriction should have a basis in domestic law. Furthermore, the law itself should be of a certain quality; foreseeable as to its effect and accessible to the person concerned.
  • Legitimate aim– The interference in question should be necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder and crime, for the protection of health and morals or for the protection of rights and freedoms of others.

In Monim Elgak, Osman Hummeida & Amir Suliman (represented by International Federation for Human Rights & World Organisation Against Torture) v. Sudan, ACHPR Comm. No. 379/09 (2014), para 119, the ACHPR found that “the only reason that KCHRED and its director were targeted was on account of their perceived links with the ICC.  The Respondent State has not provided any information showing that the activities of the organization endangered national security, morality, or the rights of other people in Sudan.  In the circumstances, the Commission considers that the State’s interference with the activities of the organization and its staff was unjustifiable and arbitrary and finds a violation of Article 10 of the Charter.”

 

  • Necessary in a democratic society– This implies two conditions;
    • There has to be a pressing social need for the interference, and in particular,
    • The interference should be proportionate to the legitimate aims pursued. They must be proportionate to achieve their protective function; they must be the least intrusive instrument amongst those which achieve their protective function; they must be proportionate to the interest to be protected.
  • In Attorney General of Botswana v. Thuto Rammoge [2016] Civil Appeal No. CACGB-128-14, Botswana Court of Appeal held the Registrar violation of the LGBT group’s right to association was not a proportional restriction. “In my judgment the refusal of registration of a society to further address that social ill could only be justified if it could be shown clearly that the society proposed to actively participate in or to encourage the commission of crimes against those sections. That is not the case.  Nor can it be said to be proportional if a society formed to pursue a number of honourable objectives, including advocacy, public health and education, was refused registration purely because, in the subjective view of the Registrar (or of the Minister), it was suspected of being likely to promote unlawful activities.  There must, as I have said, be some evidential basis for such a conclusion.  Here there was none.”

 

JUDICIAL DECISIONS VIS-À-VIS FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION OF LGBTIQ MEMBERS

 

In 2013 in Kenya, the NGO Co-ordination Board refused to register an organization under the name Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council.  The Board defended its rejection on the basis that the proposed names were inconsistent with laws criminalizing same sex conduct.  The High Court in Nairobi held that the Kenyan Constitution guarantees every person the right to freely associate and form an association of any kind.  As the judiciary is enjoined to apply the Constitution without prejudice, the right to freedom of association must be realized for all persons regardless of sexual identity or gender.   The Board, as a state entity, is required to act in accordance with the Constitution regardless of the personal views of its members and public opinion holding that homosexuality is reprehensible.

The Court found that limiting the petitioners’ right to freedom or association was not justifiable under Article 24 of the Kenyan Constitution, since can only be limited if it is reasonable and justifiable in a “democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.”  The criminal ban on same sex conduct does not prohibit LBGT persons from existing or associating and thus is not reasonable nor justifiable.

Eric Gitari v Non-Governmental Organizations Co-Ordination Board [2015] eKLR, Petition No. 440 of 2013 (at paras 73-99).

 

In Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera v Attorney-General Misc. Cause 33 of 2012, Freedom and Roam Uganda and Sexual Minorities of Uganda organized a workshop in order to train LGBTI activists.  The Minister of Ethics and Integrity ordered the forcible closure of the workshop, alleging that it was an illegal gathering of homosexuals prohibited by section 145 of the Ugandan Penal Code, which criminalizes same sex conduct.  The workshop organizers challenged the actions of the Minister as a violation of their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, political participation, freedom of association and assembly, and equality before the law.

The Ugandan High Court accepted that the applicants were exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.  Yet, it also found that Article 43 of the Ugandan Constitution, which allows justifiable limitations of human rights in the public interest, was applicable in this circumstance.  The Court found that the workshop promoted prohibited and illegal same sex acts and such promotion was prejudicial to the public interest, thus the Minister was justified and did not violate the applicants’ aforementioned rights.   The Ugandan High Court declared that the “promotion of morals is widely recognized as a legitimate aspect of public interest which can justify restrictions”.

 

In Pamela Adie v Corporate Affairs Commission (2018) Federal High Court of Abuja, the CAC refused the registration of an organization named Lesbian Equality and Empowerment Initiatives whose goal was to advocate for the rights of female sexual minorities. The CAC contended that the name could not be approved because it was misleading, offensive, contrary to public policy and violates an existing law that prohibits same-sex marriage in Nigeria.

The Court held that in so far as the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is still operative in Nigeria and has not been repealed, the right to form same sex and gay unions and associations is prohibited and CAC was justified to have rejected the application for being in contravention of public policy and morality.

 

RECOMMENDATION

The right to freedom of Association is core to any society, it is an indispensable right in enabling citizens to monitor the Human rights situations in a country and to support the implementation of Human Rights policies. It is key for the work of Human Right defenders.

Registration should never serve as a tool to control the establishment of organizations, but rather as a tool to provide them with a legal status in jurisdictions that require such a measure.

Denying registration to NGOs that challenge or criticize the government is a violation of the right to freedom of association which forces civil action underground and delegitimizes NGO work. Registration as a form of repression also hinders the formation of an open and pluralistic society, by excluding civil society from public dialogue.

In many countries with a high level of civil society engagement and indeed an enabling environment, prior registration is not mandatory. If such regulations are in place, the UN has underlined that principles guiding the rule of law also apply to these regulations, meaning that they should be determinable, non-retroactive, lawful, proportional, non-discriminatory, and necessary. Furthermore, registration procedures should be expeditious, and not be used as a tool to slow down the establishment of organizations.

The possibility to appeal a decision should be included in the regulation, to provide civil society organizations with fair access to obtaining legal status. Provisions should not require re-registration, enabling organizations to be sustainable and look to the long-term.

Procedures governing the registration of civil society organizations play an important role in the control of civil society space. With this in mind, the power to limit the right to freedom of association must be appropriately framed. States should not impose lengthy, burdensome or overly bureaucratic registration processes, as this would undermine the effective functioning of NGOs.

In some countries, registration applications filed by associations can take up to a month to be considered for approval, while business registration is considered complete, the moment the application is filed.

Burdensome re-registration and reporting requirements usually do not meet the criterion of necessity, as they are solely used to control the activities of NGOs. Nor do they follow the principle of non-discrimination, as often more requirements are placed on civil society than on businesses. There are also doubts that such requirements are proportional, given the heavy requirements with regard to the budget of NGOs, in comparison to businesses for example.

CONCLUSION

FROM All The ABOVE CONSIDERATION, then comes the parody,… can the express provision of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act 2014, negate, subjugate and undermine the express provision of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria?

Section 4(1) SSMPA “The registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, their sustenance, processions and meetings, is prohibited”

Section 40, 1999 constitution “ Every person SHALL be entitled to ASSEMBLE freely and ASSOCIATE with other persons and in particular he may FORM or BELONG to ANY political party, trade union or ANY OTHER ASSOCIATION for the protection of his interest”

THERE LIES THE PARODY, WHERE LIES THE SUPREMACY?

 

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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HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN FIGHTING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

By Ifeyinwa Onochie

human rights now

In recent time, social media has become an important part of our daily lives from shopping to connecting with friends, information and education etc. Social media plays a vital role in transforming the way we behave today. Let me start with a definition; Social media are computer tools that allow people to share information, discuss opinions, ideas, as well as share images and videos online.

Since the emergence of social media networking sites like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, these networks have become a day to day routine for most people. The ability to share photos, events and opinions as they happen in real-time has changed the way we live and do business.

Research has shown that in 2017, users spent more than 2 hours on average per day on social networks and messaging services, which amounted to about one third of their entire daily computer time (Mander, 2017). In addition, it is statistically estimated that more people spend time on the internet and on social media than time spent on TV or newspapers.

Consequently, for organisations, this means social media would improve customer service, marketing, public relations and other business activities that rely on quick and efficient information exchanges. However, the addictive part of the social media is bad and can disturb personal lives. Teenagers are mostly affected by addiction to social media. They get involved extensively and may eventually cut off from the society. Similarly, social media can waste individual time that could have been used for productive activities.

In relation to this, human rights abuses around the globe have drawn global criticism and attracted the attention of international communities such UN, African Union, and other international organisations (Kaluge, 2013). However, despite efforts by these organisations, Nigeria still faces human rights abuses. This could be because violations are usually not reported.

Hence, linking social media to human rights violations in Nigeria, the rate at which citizens’ rights are violated is alarming. Almost on a daily basis, Lawyers Alert receives reports of violations. In the same vein, violations are reported in the newspapers and online. To prevent violations of human rights, human rights organisations should encourage people to ask questions and demand reparation when abused.

Furthermore, there is every need to protect and defend citizens’ rights. In view of this, social media is an effective tool that can be deployed to protect the rights of citizens as well as help to fight human rights violations. One way to do this is by putting up information online on the need to end human rights violation and urge persons to report violations.

Lawyers Alert has a Facebook, twitter Instagram, blog and website where it reaches out to people, monitor and document violations. In addition, Lawyers Alert has a web based tool called LADOCKT which it developed. LADOCKT is used to capture, monitor, document and analyse human rights violations in trends, demographics, age and gender.

After analysing the violations, the report is shared with partners and the general public. It is essential to note that the reason human rights violations continue unabated is because people do not usually report. And because violations are not reported, perpetrators continue to violate citizens’ rights with impunity. There is need to encourage citizens to report violations, and one effective way to do this is to reach out to people through the social media.

After encouraging people to report violations the next step to take as a human rights organisation is to put your contacts address on Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc. Lawyers Alert has its contacts on all social media platforms where citizens report violations.

Conclusively, as a human rights organisation, Lawyers Alert will keep protecting and defending citizens’ rights and with the support of citizens, we are ready to take up issues of human rights violation and pursue them to logical conclusions.

 

Below are our contacts for purpose of reporting violation from all and sundry

 

Telephone Numbers: +234  92202090, Toll-Free Line:080 99937318
Email:
info@lawyersalertng.org (OR) lawyersalert@lawyersalertng.org

 

Facebook: Lawyers Alert Nigeria

 

Twitter: @lawyeralertNG

 

Instagram : @lawyersalertnigeria

Reference

Mander, J. (2017). Daily time spent on social networks rises to over 2 hours. Retrievedfrom https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-day/daily-time-spent-on-social-networks Accessed 10 June 2018

Kaluge, D.(2013). Human right abuse. Available from http://davidkaluge.hubpages.com/hub/human-right-abuse

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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THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

BY: D.U INNOCENT ESQ.

Human-rights

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. … Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There has been an outcry, on the gross violation of human rights that has ravaged Nigeria in recent times. These violations have led to massive loss of lives, properties and the displacement of families and communities. These violations have also led to the rise in the insecurity and the volatile nature of our society presently. It is important to note that victims of these violations are innocent civilians whose lives are being disrupted and even destroyed. Who should we hold responsible?

The European Union reported at the end of 2018, that 7.1 million people were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 850,000 people in Borno are estimated to be in areas that are inaccessible to humanitarian organizations. The conflicts between farmer communities and herdsmen escalated markedly in 2018, becoming the deadliest crisis in Nigeria with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands internally displaced. While the root causes are fundamentally economic and lack of governance, the violence increasingly takes on a worrying ethno-religious dimension.
Federal and State governments are being criticized for the failure to ensure security, rule of law and for not addressing the widespread impunity. [1] The brutal violation of Human Rights in Benue, Nigeria which occurred in January 2018 caused by decades of old communal conflicts between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt further exacerbated the security situation in the country. As at least 1,600 people were killed and another 300,000 displaced as a result of the violence.

In June 2018, at least 84 people were killed in double suicide bomb attacks attributed to Boko Haram at a mosque in Mubi, Adamawa State. The heightened political tensions ahead of the 2019 elections led to the violations of human rights of Nigerians through Abductions, suicide bombings, and attacks on civilian targets by Boko Haram. At least 1,200 people died and nearly 200,000 were displaced in the northeast in 2018.[2]

As of 2019, 1.8 million Nigerians have fled from their homes and are internally displaced, the majority in Borno State – the epicentre of the crisis. 80 per cent of internally displaced people are women and children, and one in four are under the age of five.   [3]                                                                                                              Civil societies have led campaigns against arbitrary arrests, detention, and torture exposed human rights abuses by security agencies, including by the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).[4]

On the 11th of October 2019, the Punch Newspaper reported that the ECOWAS Court indicted the Federal Government over 2018 Benue Mass killings. This judgment was given by a three member panel of the Community Court of Justice ECOWAS with suit number: ECW/CCJ/APP/16/18. The judgment was presided by Justice Edward Asante, President of the Court, Justice Keikura Bangura, and Hon. Januaria Costa.[5]

Between 2018 and 2019 Nigeria has lost millions of human resource to human rights violations both reported and unreported. The above stated scenarios are only a tiny fraction of the reports of human rights violations in Nigeria, as writing about more would turn this piece into a documentary. The list of violations in Nigeria is almost listless and cuts across almost every strata of the society. The government is supposed to be the hope of security for the common man, but today in Nigeria that hope has been shredded in pieces as Nigerians are being violated even in their homes. The apparent case of Nigeria’s hopelessness in tackling human right issues is seen in the plethora of violations by both state and non-state actors.

Article1, 2,3,4,5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right, Chapter 10 LFN 1990 and Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution enshrine the Protection of the Human Rights of Nigerians. The Federal Government is tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Human Rights of her citizens. It is therefore in the interest of the peace and development of our country that our governments should take up their responsibility of protecting the human rights of her citizens.

 “When the fundamental principles of human rights are not protected, the center of our institution no longer holds. It is they that promote development that is sustainable; peace that is secure; and lives of dignity.” – Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

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.

[1] https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/nigeria/62580/eu-annual-report-human-rights-and-democracy-world-2018-country-updates-nigeria_en

[2] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/nigeria

[3] https://www.unocha.org/nigeria/about-ocha-nigeria

[4] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/nigeria

[5] https://punchng.com/ecowas-court-indicts-fg-over-2018-benue-mass-killing/ 

 
 

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WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS

BY CHIGOZIEM ELLEN ONUGHA ESQ

Human-rights

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.
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Human Rights, humanity, Rights, Uncategorized

 

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