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Tag Archives: Human rights

A ONE DAY SENSITIZATION WITH KABUSA MARKET WOMEN ASSOCIATION ON GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV)

Dated 12Th June 2018.

The problem of gender-based violence (GBV) is an age-long problem in our communities which has led to loss of lives, emotional disorder, psychological torture and other forms of human rights abuses.  These violations happen more in rural areas than the urban areas due to poor access to information, inadequate exposure and anti-human rights cultural practices, leading to an anti-social environment for women and children. Market women who ordinarily carry the burden for over 70% of the Nigerian families and are the economic main- stay of most homes suffer the most. It shows in several ways and not necessarily violent – owing to Market women often non awareness of this, it gradually ebb their sense of dignity and consequent inability to raise citizens who fully appreciate their beings in our homes.

Lawyers Alert as a human rights Organization has identified the gap which has put the lives of many women at the risk of suffering violations and other human rights abuses, and is now engaging market women associations across the country to sensitize them on Gender based violence.

The first of this training held with the kabusa market women – Abuja sorboses. The training which started at about 2:30 PM with over fourty women in attendance was held at the market square and it started with an opening prayer by a delegate of the Market Women Leader, after which a welcome address was taken by the Market Women Leader herself. All the participants briefly introduced themselves. Mr. Yemi Agoro took time to introduce Lawyers Alert as an Organization to the women and also talked about the Objectives of the meeting. Ellen Onugha who is our legal officer took time to talk about legal literacy and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). Mr Yemi Agoro and Elvis Torkuma took few minutes to summarize everything in local English in other for the women to understand it better. After the session on legal literacy and Sexual reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), we gave room for comments and questions. The women were excited with our services and many threw questions which we were able to respond to with the rights answers.

One woman stood up and said, she would take it upon herself to educate those who were not present at the meeting. Another woman said initially she thought it was money we came to share to them but what she learnt from us is much more than money. After the feedback session, emphases were made on Lawyers Alert’s pro bono services, mediation, where and how they can access our free legal services and what to do when their rights are violated. This topic was even more exciting and overwhelming to them because even before we could finish this session, we had over six women reporting violations to us at the spot. It was a successful program because from their comments, questions, recommendations and openness to discuss their problems with us at the training ground, we could see that we exceeded their expectations.

 

In conclusion, we recommend more of this sensitization program for market women in other locations because many women do not know their rights and they do not know that these rights can be protected and enhanced. This will lead to more enlightened women in the society and reduction or total eradication of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

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Nigeria Rebukes UN High Commissioner For Pushing LGBT as Human Rights

NEW YORK, July 10 (C-Fam) Nigeria publicly chastised the UN human rights office for trampling on universally-agreed rights as it seeks to impose same sex marriage and outlaw commonly-held views on homosexuality. The sharp rebuke accused the UN officials of infringing on the right to democracy, religious freedom, and cultural standards that strengthen families.

The statement, delivered last week in Geneva, came in response to a report released last month by the UN human rights office. The report on discrimination and violence against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity criticizes laws protecting children from LGBT propaganda and condemns therapy to help people with unwanted sexual attractions. Expressing negative views on homosexuality contributes to violence, the report claims.

The UN report, which governments are free to ignore but which will be used to pressure them, also tells countries to legalize same sex marriage or unions, and provide benefits.

The majority of countries define marriage as the union of a man and woman. Nigeria strengthened its law in 2014.

Nigeria rebuked the UN officials for disrespecting the democratic process and endangering universally-agreed human rights.

Religious freedom and cultural rights are “fundamental parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Nigeria stated. Countries have a “duty to ensure the family values, the religious values and the cultural values of its citizens are protected,” which are “the bedrock of the moral values of the individual.”

Nigeria’s marriage law “is intended to uphold and strengthen these values.”

Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and the majority of its 170 million citizens are Christian or Muslim.

The law “synchronizes” Nigeria’s culture, traditions, and two main religions, all of which reject “unreservedly, same sex marriage, homosexuality, lesbianism, gay and transgender attitudes.”

The Nigerians also said gay rights and orientation “will limit population” and “impose unintended consequences on the family as an institution.”

The UN human rights office ramped up its campaign to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) behavior in 2011, based on a Human Rights Council resolution expressing “grace concern” at violence and discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The recent report concedes “data are patchy” on homicides. Persons identified as LGBT may be targeted by terrorist groups, and are victims of honor killings.

But the UN report strays from acts of violence to lump in expressing religious beliefs and counseling. It “condemns” reparative therapy to help with unwanted homosexual attractions, and describes statements on homosexuality by Catholic leaders as contributing to stigma and violence against adolescents and children.

Legalizing same sex marriage is not required, the report concedes, yet goes on to tell countries to recognize same sex unions. Countries should run public education campaignson sexual orientation and repeal policies that impact rights to health, education, work, housing and social security – providing an opening for attacks on faith-based organizations and individuals that decline to participate or assist in homosexual activities.

The UN human rights office is currently mired in scandal and rumors of corruption. Its officials are accused of mishandling an investigation of French soldiers sexually abusing African boys. Staffers are rumored to be cozy with officials from governments seeking to influence decisions inside the UN office.

Nordic countries funded the UN office’s campaign for LGBT rights, even as the UN human rights chief pled for funding to do its basic work.

Privately African and other delegates express immense frustration at what they see as an obsession with LGBT issues by UN personnel and some governments.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2015 in Human Rights

 

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Why black South Africans are attacking foreign Africans but not foreign whites

By Sibusiso Tsahabalala

The attacks on migrant shop owners in Durban this week reminds us the position of foreigner in South Africa is a complex one. After decades of isolation from the rest of the African continent, and the world, during apartheid, South Africa finally opened up to the rest of world in 1994.

Under apartheid, South Africa’s immigration mirrored the narrow mindedness and prejudice of the National Party. Several laws made visiting or living in South Africa unpalatable to many. Particularly those of non-European descent.

At the dawn of the “new South Africa” in 1994, the country became home to many outsiders playing a key role in offering protection and refuge to people who had suffered unfavorable conditions in their home countries

At the heart of South Africa’s complex problem with xenophobia is the loaded meaning of the term foreigner.” Pejoratively, the term “foreigner” in South Africa usually refers to African and Asian non-nationals.

“Other” foreigners—particularly those from the Americas and Europe go unnoticed—they are often lumped up with “tourists,” or even better, referred to as “expats.”

It is this reason why the South African government says its hesitant to call the recent attacks on foreign nationals as xenophobic.

Is it “Afrophobia” or xenophobia?

Many South Africans look at the attacks on enterprising African immigrants from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria and Malawi—often running shops, stalls and other businesses in the informal economy—and resolve that the current attacks on foreigners are more afrophobic, than xenophobic.

Many ask: “Why is it that a Somali man can run a shop in a township, get raided and beaten up, while a white immigrant in town continues to run a restaurant full of patrons?”

It is this delineation that breeds ground for denial.

While this sentiment may be correct—that the violent expression of xenophobia in South Africa is meted out mainly against African immigrants – it is unhelpful to resolve the crisis that has left many foreign nationals homeless, tortured and dispossessed.

While we can ascribe the attacks to sentiments of Afrophobia, we must be willing to agree that the attacks are fuelled by a sense of hatred, dislike and fear of foreigners – and that is xenophobia. And given the fact that foreign nationals from Pakistan and Bangladesh have been profiled in this wave of attacks, it will soon no longer be enough for South Africans to cry “Afrophobia.”

 A hangover from the past, fueled by present

South Africa’s xenophobia reflects the country’s history of isolation. As a country at the Southern most tip of Africa, South Africans are fond of referring to their continental counterparts as “Africans” or “people from Africa.” Many business ventures, news publications and events—aimed at local audiences—routinely speak about “going to Africa.”

Of course this narrow-mindedness, suffered by both black and white South Africans, is a by-product of apartheid. For black people, apartheid was an insidious tool used to induce self-hate and tribalize people of the same race. For white South Africans, apartheid was a false rubber-stamp of the white race as superior.

It is these two conceptions that gave rise to the myth that South Africa is not part of the African continent, but a different place that just happens to be on the tip of the continent.

Long after the scourge of apartheid, it is also clear that we’re fueling this prejudice in the present.

It remains to be seen whether South Africans will break away from these shackles, and rid themselves of this horrid prejudice anchored in our past, but seemingly fuelled by our present.

(culled from Quartz)

 

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COMBATTING GLOBAL RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE

the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 16/18

by Marc Limon, Nazila Ghanea and Hilary Power

It is almost impossible to turn on the news today without witnessing scenes of hatred, violence and intolerance perpetrated in the name of religion or belief. The march of ISIL across Syria and Iraq, with associated reports of gross and systematic violations of human rights, may be an extreme example of such hatred, but it comes against a background of heightened religious hostility and discrimination in virtually every part of the world. According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, violence and discrimination against religious groups by governments and rival faiths have reached new heights in all regions except the Americas. This bleak picture is supported by the findings of the latest report on religious freedom by the US State Department, which concluded that 2013 saw ‘the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory,’ with millions of individuals from all faiths ‘forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs’ in ‘almost every corner of the globe.’

In the face of such trends, it is clear that the fight against religious intolerance and discrimination must be a key political priority for the international community, and in particular the UN and its Human Rights Council.

The main UN global policy framework for combatting religious intolerance, stigmatisation, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief is set down in Council resolution 16/18. Resolution 16/18 was adopted, with much fanfare, in March 2011 and hailed by stakeholders from all regions and faiths as a turning point in international efforts to confront religious intolerance. After more than five decades of failure, UN member states had, it was hoped, at last come together to agree a common, consensus-based approach and practical plan of action.

Almost four years on, and against the aforementioned backdrop of heightened religious hostility, UN consensus around the ‘16/18 framework’ is at breaking point. Rather than working together to implement the 16/18 action plan, states have returned to pre-2011 arguments over the nature of the problem, the correct role of the international community, and whether the solution to intolerance lies in strengthening the enjoyment of fundamental human rights or in setting clearer limits thereon.

These divisions have re-emerged, in large part, because of conceptual confusion among policymakers about what implementation of resolution 16/18 means and what it entails. Linked to (and indeed flowing from) this conceptual opacity, states – especially states from the Western Group (WEOG) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – argue over whether resolution 16/18 is being effectively implemented or not and, if not, who is to blame.

A new Universal Rights Group policy report aims to help put the 16/18 framework ‘back on track’ by cutting through the political rhetoric to understand the different positions of key actors and how to bridge them, and by providing an impartial assessment of levels of implementation.

Key findings and conclusions in the report include:

* The prevention of discrimination on grounds of, inter alia, race and religion, and the protection of minorities, were two of the four priority human rights issues chosen by member states at time of the establishment of the UN (1946).

* From that time until the early 1960s, the UN’s human rights system addressed racial and religious discrimination/intolerance as joint and interconnected issues. However, in 1962 the UN decided to decouple its consideration of the two discriminations.

* This decision facilitated the rapid adoption of a new UN convention on the elimination of racial discrimination (1965). However, consideration of religious intolerance was shunted to the diplomatic ‘slow lane.’ After long and difficult negotiations, the UN eventually adopted a (soft law) declaration in 1981 – a declaration that, today, is largely forgotten.

* From 1946 to the turn of the century, UN policy to combat religious intolerance was notably ineffective. Yet the international community was at least united around a single approach. That changed in the years after 1999 when deepening OIC concern over Islamaphobia (especially in the context of 9/11), together with a Western shift in emphasis away from combatting religious intolerance and towards promoting freedom of conscience, led to a split in the UN policy architecture – a split that remains with us today.

* Against this unpromising background, in March 2011 a group of four states – Pakistan, Turkey, the UK and the US – tabled a text at the Human Rights Council designed to heal divisions, reconcile the positions of East and West, and lay down a workable plan of action to at last confront and challenge global religious intolerance. That text became resolution 16/18.

* When looking at the implementation of resolution 16/18, expectations of the degree to which it is capable of resulting in policy shifts in UN member states should be tempered by an understanding that the primary political impetus behind resolution 16/18 was international rather than domestic.

* Nevertheless, resolution 16/18, with its in-built action plan and associated implementation mechanism (the Istanbul Process), does provide a useful and, in theory, workable framework for combatting religious intolerance. While it is difficult to identify a direct causal relationship between resolution 16/18 and concrete policy shifts at national level, it is possible to identify a number of domestic improvements in-line with parts of the action plan. A good example is the clear improvement, since 2011, in the speed and sophistication with which political and religious leaders speak-out against acts of intolerance.

* Despite these positive steps, Pew Research Center data shows a significant worsening of levels of religious intolerance in almost every part of the world over the past decade.

* An analysis of the underlying causes of this situation reveals a strong empirical relationship between levels of religious intolerance, levels of freedom of religion and levels of freedom of expression. States that place high restrictions on freedom of religion also tend to place high restrictions on freedom of expression, and in states where both these core freedoms are restricted, incidences of religious intolerance tend, on average, to be far higher.

* However, URG’s analysis also shows that promoting respect for freedom of religion and freedom of expression is not enough on its own. If states are to strike a blow against intolerance, they must also take a range of supplementary (and complementary) steps to strengthen policy (in line with resolution 16/18).

Policy Recommendations
The report ends by proposing a set of recommendations designed to ‘re-energise’ the 16/18 process and thereby strengthen the international community’s ability to effectively respond to rising intolerance and discrimination. Recommendations include:

* States – especially EU and OIC states – should cooperate to dismantle the artificial divide that currently separates the UN’s work on promoting respect for freedom of religion from its work on combatting religious intolerance. In the medium- to long-term, this would mean agreeing on a single, coherent policy covering the mutually interdependent issues of freedom of religion, religious discrimination and religious intolerance;

* Linked with this point, states should avoid a return to the initiative on ‘defamation of religions,’ which achieved little beyond the polarisation of East and West. They should also avoid establishing new instruments or mechanisms on religious discrimination or intolerance in the absence of a solid evidential base showing that such measures would help;

* Because arguments over implementation are central to the current difficulties faced by the 16/18 process, it would be useful for relevant Council mechanisms, especially the Special Procedures, to undertake an independent and impartial analysis of steps taken by states, religious leaders and civil society, together with related best practice;

* Better use can and should be made of the UPR process and Treaty Body dialogues to promote implementation of the 16/18 action plan and to report on progress;

* States should ‘re-energise’ the Istanbul Process by agreeing in advance on a schedule of future meetings – a series that would allow all parts of the 16/18 action plan to be addressed; and

* The format of Istanbul Process meetings should be reformed, so that for each meeting a geographically balanced group of states, religious community representatives and civil society leaders are invited to present information about their national experiences, challenges faced and future plans.

 

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Tackling the Insurgency

 by Eze Onyekpere

Nigeria is under siege; the people are distraught and hope seems to be a scarce commodity in the land. No arm of government seems to inspire hope any more. Sories of bombs, deaths and rumours of bombs abound everywhere. This sounds like the Biblical apocalypse. Is it already here with us? Boring re-affirmations of what shall be done without lifting a finger to get it done follows another and many more continue to perish in the rain of bombs. Kidnappers are on the prowl taking innocent children away from school. Sadly, the leaders do not simply care. It is business as usual accentuated by the focus on the 2015 elections. It seems that the leaders do not mind if the population is decimated before the elections in as much as they will have the opportunity to run for political positions. Is anyone out there listening? Can Nigerians scream? Would screaming do the magic of awakening the leadership from their deep slumber? If we scream, will anyone listen to us? Where are the statesmen, nation builders, bridge builders and the bi-partisans? Where are the men and women who understand that life is the most fundamental of the fundamental rights. That rights, entitlements, positions of authority are only for the living? If we are on this auto pilot, as it were, of mutually assured destruction, who will the leaders rule over?

No, we cannot continue with this season of hate, deaths, malfeasance and destruction as one tragedy follows another. We want to hear and see something new and we know it is possible. Another Nigeria of goodwill, good governance, abundance, care and fellow feeling is possible. It is also feasible and in the collective interest of all. Another Nigeria of a bi-partisan approach to combating terrorism, where we stand shoulder to shoulder to say no to devils masquerading in human flesh, who spread death and hate. The opportunities of this unity of action are there. But who understands the currents and is discerning enough to see them? The most basic duty of government is the protection of life and property and a government that cannot fulfill this basic duty is not worth that appellation.

This discourse seeks to make a number of recommendations on the way forward for a resolution of this crisis and to forestall future unnecessary crisis.  The first recommendation is that our leaders in government and opposition should admit that this crisis had its origins in our winner-takes-all brand of politics, although it has degenerated and gone out of control of those who thought they would benefit from it. It started like a joke taken too far and today, it seems to have been chartered and given a franchise from al Qaeda. Thus, the consideration and resolution of the national question are central to winning this war and preventing another in the future. The resolution of the critical issues of good governance, power sharing, devolution of powers, nature of federalism including its fiscal aspects, citizenship, economic and social rights and a sense of belonging to all will promote peace, tolerance and respect for life and property.  It will also facilitate a “nip-in-the-bud” approach for future insurgency. In this direction, the opportunities provided by the National Conference should be grabbed with both hands by all stakeholders. The delegates must make far-reaching recommendations and should not be content with the status quo. But the caveat is that the President and the National Assembly should not allow their personal egos to get on the way. The President has set up a conference that he is at a loss as to what to do with its resolutions. The earlier a referendum bill is sent by the President and passed by the National Assembly, the better.

The second recommendation is that our leaders on the sides of the political spectrum should put heads together and come out with strategies to fight the insurgency. This is on the condition that the elected leadership opens the door and extends a hand of fellowship to the opposition for the rescue of the sinking ship of state. It is nothing to be ashamed of to ask for and get ideas from fellow Nigerians to arrest the drift considering that human lives are involved. We did not seek in 2011 to elect the most brilliant man or woman as president. We elected as a president, a fellow who we thought can coordinate our affairs and lead the most brilliant of men and women to achieve results. There can be no economic growth and development without peace and stability. Indeed, the 2015 elections may not hold in some parts of the country if the bombs continue to rain.

The third suggestion is that we need to deploy all the resources at our disposal in this struggle. Nigeria once paid for satellites and they were supposed to be deployed for various uses. Now that we have this challenge to our sovereignty, if these satellites are still in orbit, we should activate their antennas to gather sufficient intelligence on the movement and deployment of these terrorists. What is the fun in paying so much for such complex scientific innovation if we cannot use it to save lives and defend property? Is the satellite still in orbit, in perfect order? If the answer is in the affirmative, what are we doing with the pictures it sends down to earth? Do we need to re-programme it for specific military purposes? Or do we have another scam on our hands in the name of deploying a satellite?

Nigerian soldiers and policemen have excelled in peace keeping missions outside our shores. We were pivotal in ending the wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. We have demonstrated commitment and competence as our brothers’ keeper  through the ECOMOG initiative. So, why are we appearing helpless like a basket case with attack after attack and all we get are promises of action which never materialise? Thus, the men and women who made this our feat possible are still around. If they have retired, those they trained and imparted knowledge upon are still alive. So, we have the personnel to engage these terrorists. Therefore, a fourth recommendation is to mobilise our gallant officers and men and provide them with a conducive environment to excel on home soil. We must give them the greatest encouragement and latitude within the law to operate and flush out these cowards. The fifth is that we have built up a lot of goodwill in West Africa and in the international community. Now is the time to present the goodwill which I liken to a cheque to the banks – our neighbours and international friends. We have to request assistance. There is nothing to be ashamed of about seeking for help when you are attacked. They can assist us with intelligence information and/or use their troops to stop terrorist mobilisation against us from their territories.

On another note, let no one consider the uprooting of trees or burning of the Sambisa forest given its notoriety as a safe haven for terrorists. Such an action will further accentuate the ecological imbalance in the region and expose residents to another hardship beyond the terror. This forest may not be as thick as the jungles in the South. What is needed is proper policing and surveillance over the forest

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Governanace, Human Rights

 

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