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Tag Archives: Human rights

RIGHTS OF A WOMAN IN AFRICAN COMMUNITIES

RIGHTS OF A WOMAN IN AFRICAN COMMUNITIES

Rights are God’s given, are these rights applicable to only men in some African Communities? One would ask. In many African communities, women are been subjected to harmful practices which  violates their fundamental human rights as human beings, some of these practices includes female genital mutilation, domestic labour , right to education amongst others.

In many African communities, women and girls are seen as lesser human beings, they are force to go through all forms of human rights violations owing to their gender, these violations are often not reported or documented, and it affects their mental health and reduces their self-esteem. Do women and girls have right in some African Communities? I asked.

In some African Communities, women  cannot own land or right to child custody and when their husband dies, they are force to bath the dead body and drink the water in other to appease gods of the land, these practices are not applicable to men when their wives dies. Do the African woman and the girl child has right? I asked. Gender based violence is not a big deal in many African communities even in the cities, laws and policies are weak. In Kogi state Nigeria, a lady was beaten to pulp by the state commissioner which attracted the attention of many human rights defenders but it was not a big deal in the eyes of many just because she is a woman.

If truly rights are God’s given and if African women and girls have rights, we must begin to advocate for proper protection of the African woman from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, right to child custody and right to western education amongst others. Women are better managers and home builders; we cannot subject them to harmful practices without protection. Let’s support the African women and the girl child to enjoy full rights as men do without gender inequality. Women too have rights, we must enhance them.

By Elvis Torkuma.

 
 

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‘RECOVER BETTER – STAND UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS’

‘RECOVER BETTER – STAND UP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS’

Human Rights is celebrated every 10th day of December over the world. The day has been chosen to coincide with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a document detailing the 30 fundamental rights that are said to be naturally available to any one born human – in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Human Rights Day affords every country and other smaller entities the opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in rebuilding the world. It is an occasion for individuals, organizations and even nations to show solidarity with one another and create awareness about the rights of the people. The chosen topic of this piece has actually been adopted from the theme for this year’s celebration. In view of the ravaging and damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that took the world by shock, it is not strange that this theme has been chosen. As countries recover from the incalculable destruction done to its economy and the human capital, I presume the theme is reminding us that we can only recover better when all of us stand up to defend our rights and those of others. Enough of our indolence as it concerns issues of human rights.

A cursory look at relevant records and statistics in Africa does not present any encouraging pictures as the continent has become notorious for armed conflicts with all forms of violations including torture; worse forms of communal violence with large number of internally displaced persons as never before witnessed; arbitrary arrests and other incidence of extra-judicial killings; serious violence against the weakest citizens; human trafficking and various forms of modern slavery; severe economic deprivations; extreme cases of insecurity, just to mention a few. Indeed, all these are common indicators of serious human rights violations, just as they undermine the relevance of any government and the entrenchment of constitutional democracy. The continent of Africa is acclaimed to be home to the largest number of people that live in abject poverty. In fact, Africa holds the records in virtually all the negative indicators that exist- has about the highest maternal mortality rates, extreme low literacy levels and very poor healthcare systems. Such pictures do not in any way give hope of any better future for the continent. At best, they have crystallized into reactions that have placed the situations in Africa in vicious cycles that qualify for extreme emergencies.

 In Nigeria, the human rights situation is not any different from the general picture that the continent of Africa portrays. The human rights records coming out of and about this country have been gloomy. It is even ironical that the self-acclaimed constitutional democracy that the country assumed since 1999 has not done anything to improve the situation. Across Nigeria, reports abound of unprecedented hostilities to peaceful and legitimate protests, unlawful arrests and detentions without trials, farmers–herders conflicts, banditries and insurgencies leading to abductions, rape and other sexual abuses. All over Nigeria, especially in the North Eastern part, thousands of lives have been lost and a large number of people displaced from their homes thereby leading Nigeria to have one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. The Boko Haram terrorists that have operated almost freely in parts of the country have cut short the educational pursuits of many school girls and other children. It is of particular interest that all these are happening in country where basic access to education is so low.

In recent times, there have been serious attempts by governments and their agencies to stifle the social and other media and to also shrink the civil society spaces. A lot have been done by the two chambers of the National Assembly to pass laws that would muzzle the social media and that which would cede the controls of civil societies to government. Success in this direction would see freedom of expression gravely impeded.

Although some critical pieces of legislation such as the Violence Against Persons (Prohibited) Act, the Child’s Rights Act, the Administration of the Criminal Justice, Act and HIV/AIDS (Anti-Discrimination) Act have been passed in the last five years or so to booster the rights of the relevant population; not much has been achieved in terms of implementations. These laws being products of the National Assembly will need domestication in the various states to make them operational at that level. As at the last count, no single one of the pieces of legislation has enjoyed domestication in more than half of the 36 states of the federation. This development does not show that things are looking up and going in the direction.

As the world celebrates the Human Rights Day, it would be appropriate to recall that sometime in August 2017, Vice President Osinbajo (then acting as the president) in August 2017 constituted a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement. The panel conducted hearings across the country and submitted its findings to the presidency in February 2018. As of December 2020, the content of the report had not been made public. It cannot also be forgotten in a hurry the recent ENDSARS protests that swept across the country and some of the alleged violations and human rights abuses that accompanied them. The popular Lekki killings where men in military uniforms were said to have opened fire on armless civilians is still fresh in our memories. Right now, judicial panels of enquiry are being set up to investigate allegations of abuses against police personnel. While the dusts generated by the controversies surrounding the setting up of the panels are yet to settle, it is expected that the reports to be submitted by same will be considered and implemented. This is the only way we can show the world that we are serious and ready to safeguard the rights of our people.

As the theme for this year’s celebration goes, the world can only recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic only if we all stand up for human rights. The era of standing aloof must be over if we all seek to be free from all forms of oppressions. Lawyers Alert as an organization says it is not over until it is over. We need to be reminded of the popular saying of Edmund Burke that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Written by Bamidele A. Jacobs

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2020 in Human Rights

 

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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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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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HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN FIGHTING HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE

By Ifeyinwa Onochie

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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.

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“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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THE IMPLICATION OF SAME SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITION ACT 2014 AND THE RIGHTS OF SEXUAL MINORITIES IN NIGERIA.

By Victor Eboh, (Legal / Reproductive Right Officer)

blacklgbt

 

Violence and discrimination against sexual minorities  in Nigeria have been on the increase in recent times, no thanks to the promulgation of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014, (Herein after referred to as The Act) which has contributed negatively to the already dire circumstances of the Sexual minorities (Herein after referred to as The Community) in Nigeria. Members of the community have suffered an increasing wave of arbitrary arrest, unlawful invasion of privacy, assault and battery, sexual violence and extortion, among other ills, since the passing of the Act.

The average citizens of Nigeria, finds it very difficult to enjoy the protection of their rights and access to basic social services. It is rather more unfortunate for persons who are imputed to have sexual minority identities; they are faced with even more social isolation and discrimination by both states and non-state actors. Ironically, Public Authorities who are saddled with the responsibility to protect and ensure the fundamental rights of citizens are sustained, are most times at the forefront of the scourge of terror, intimidation, intolerance and violence against members of the community. The extreme intolerance, homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia, make it even more dangerous for sexual minorities to reach out for help, hence most human rights violations against them, go unreported.

The cardinal principles of human rights include, universality and non-discrimination. The pre-condition for enjoying human rights is HUMANITY.  However, the Nigerian society and Public authorities do not see the sexual minorities as part of those, whose humanity are guaranteed rights under the Nigerian Constitution. Thus, their humanity is disregarded solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, which exposes them to all forms of violence.

 

LEGAL FRAMEWORK GOVERNING SEXUAL MINORITIES ISSUES WITHIN THE NIGERIAN CONCEPT

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

  • DOMESTIC FRAME WORK: 1999 CONSTITUTION OF FED. REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
  • The preamble of the constitution
  • SECTION 1(1) & (3)
  • SECTION 17 (3) (C & D)
  • THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF EVERY CITIZENS:
  • CHAPTER 4  of the constitution  section 33-40
  • SECTION 33: “Every person has a Right to Life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his Right    to life
  • SECTION 34: “ Every individual is entitled to Respect for the dignity of his person and no person shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • SECTION 35: “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty.
  • SECTION 36: “Every person shall be entitled to fair hearing
  • SECTION 37: “ The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversation and telegraph communications is hereby guaranteed and protected
  • SECTION 38: “ Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • SECTION 39: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression
  • SECTION 40: “ Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons …or any other association for the protection of his interest.

 

REGIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, (hereinafter referred to as ACHPR),  a document which has been domesticated and  forms part of the body of laws in Nigeria, clearly and unequivocally guarantees freedom from discrimination and equal protection and equality of individuals before the law. The treaty was signed in 1981, but did not become a law in Nigeria until when the National Assembly ratified and enforced it as applicable law in Nigeria. The Charter is now known as the AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES RIGHTS (RATIFICATION AND ENFORCEMENT) ACT (CAP 10) OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA 1990

Article 2 of the Act, clearly provides that ‘ Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedom recognized and guaranteed in the present charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status’

Other relevant sections of the Act are as follows:

  • The preamble
  • ARTICLE 1
  • ARTICLE 2
  • ARTICLE 3
  • ARTICLE 4
  • ARTICLE 13 (2)
  • ARTICLE 16 (1 & 2)
  • ARTICLE 19

 

The African Commission, the body responsible for monitoring compliance with the African Charter, has in various communications, denounced acts of discrimination. The ACHPR has clearly established that the expression ‘OTHER STATUS’ as used in the Act can broadly be interpreted to include grounds, other than those explicitly listed under that provision of the Charter. The rights to dignity, liberty and security of persons and freedom of association are among rights clearly proclaimed by the African Charter and the Charter clearly states that every human being is entitled to these rights.

Concerned by the increasing violence against the community, the ACHPR at its 55th session adopted a landmark resolution on the Protection Against Violence and Other Human Rights Violations against persons on the basis of their Real or imputed Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. The Resolution unequivocally condemns violence against persons on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation and gender identity. It calls on states to stop all violence committed by state and non-state actors and to enact and implement laws condemning violence against all persons regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. States were also urged to promptly investigate and punish all acts of violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The International legal framework governing Human rights apply equally to all sexual minorities in all parts of the world. The principle of equality, non-discrimination and universality are fundamental in ensuring the human rights for all persons including sexual minorities. It has been established that the grounds of discrimination enumerated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are non-exhaustive and “other status” includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

THE SAME SEX MARRIAGE PROHIBITION ACT 2014

The promulgation of the Same Sex marriage prohibition Act has to a great extent heightened the level of violence against the sexual minorities. The law has been used and utilised by both state and non state actors to subject community members to all sorts of violations, ranging from public humiliation, to battery, assault, blackmail, extortion and other forms of violations and violence.

The Act has further encouraged and in fact, breeds a culture of intimidation, suppression and violence against community members in Nigeria. The Act, apart from prohibiting same sex marriage, goes further to prohibit and criminalizes the association of persons and organizations who purport to promote the interest of Sexual minorities in Nigeria. It prohibits and criminalizes the ‘Public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly without defining what qualifies as “same sax amorous relationship”

The negative effect of this law was immediate and still persists, as and thus the community members are subjected to an unimaginable level of futility being victims of a wave of arbitrary arrest, invasion of privacy, blackmail, extortion and violence of which state actors are also perpetrators of this hideous practices.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

From the above consideration, it suffices to say that if the rendition of the constitution “WE THE PEOPLE” is the have a meaningful impact, then it must have the force of general application without prejudice.

The following recommendations are worthy of consideration:

  1. The Government should act timeously in condemning the on-going violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity expression.
  2. A review of discriminatory laws that trigger violence against sexual minorities should be given priority.
  3. Enforce constitutional and treaty provisions on universal human rights in public and private institutions across the country.
  4. Human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity expression, should be investigated and perpetrators brought to book.
  5. Embark on a holistic campaign to promote an end to hate speech and statements inciting violence against sexual minorities in Nigeria from religious leaders, politicians and others and establish a link with sexual minorities human rights organizations, regarding ways to promote awareness on issues affecting sexual minorities.
  6. Establish a reporting process for informing the Human Rights Commission and other related bodies, on human rights abuses experienced by sexual minorities.
  7. State actors should discourage incidences of police raids, arbitrary and indiscriminate arrests and searches of individuals based on perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity expression.
  8. The police should be at the forefront in investigating and prosecuting incidents of violence against sexual minorities and refrain from harassing, arresting or prosecuting members of the sexual minorities support organizations and human rights advocates on account of their work on sexual minority rights.
  9. Civil society organizations should be encouraged to mainstream sexual minority’s awareness and rights into their relevant health, gender and human rights programmes.
  10. Mainstream stakeholders and the general public should be educated on human rights issues affecting sexual minorities. Sensitization workshops with government agencies, health workers and other law enforcement agencies be developed, on the need to promote and protect rights of sexual minorities as citizens of Nigeria.

 

CONCLUSION

From the above consideration, one fundamental principle looms larger, that violence and discrimination against any individual or groups of persons is unacceptable. OUR HUMANITY should be paramount in ensuring dignity and rights to ALL PERSONS.

 

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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