Nigeria | Bring to justice those violating the rights of defenders

As part of Nigeria’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review, ISHR and partners call on the Nigerian government to amend laws and policies preventing human rights defenders from conducting their work, and to ensure they are protected from intimidation.

As part of the 31st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Republic of Nigeria will receive recommendations on measures it ought to take to strengthen human rights protections.

In its last UPR in 2013, Nigeria accepted recommendations on protecting the rights of human rights defenders and guaranteeing a safe and enabling environment for them to work.

‘Despite accepting these recommendations, human rights defenders continue to face threats and attacks – including physical violence, arbitrary detention and intimidation.  Defenders of the rights of LGBTI people, as well as women defenders who challenge societal gender norms, are especially targeted. We call on Nigeria to implement the commitments made to protect these individuals from threats or attacks,’ said ISHR’s Legal Counsel Tess McEvoy.

ISHR, along with Partnership for JusticeLegal Defence and Assistance Project and the Women’s Rights and Health Project, drafted a briefing paper on the situation of human rights defenders in Nigeria. These submissions are intended to assist States in making recommendations to State governments. The briefing paper recommends the Nigerian Government combat impunity and refrain from criminalising the legitimate activities of defenders. 

ISHR and partners also call on Nigeria to:

  • Conduct investigations of all violations against human rights defenders, bring perpetrators to justice and provide remedies for victims;
  • Repeal laws and policies that prevent human rights defenders from doing their work;
  • Refrain from adopting bills that restrict funding to civil society organisations;
  • Create laws that protect the work of human rights defenders; and
  • Ensure human rights defenders are granted the right to freedom of assembly and are protected while countering terrorism in Nigeria.

At the UPR pre-session on 11 October 2018 – where civil society is given a platform to present information on the human rights situation in the country and to inform recommendations made to Nigeria – two organisations echoed calls made in ISHR’s briefing paper:

  • Equality Triangle addressed unlawful police clampdowns at peaceful LGBTI gatherings in Nigeria, and recommended that the State ensure the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly is applied to all Nigerians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Paradigm Initiative raised an issue regarding internet surveillance on the work of journalists, bloggers and defenders, recommending that investigations be conducted on the invasion of unlawful surveillance of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders, that perpetrators are brought to justice and that results of these investigations be made public.

Contact: Tess McEvoy, [email protected]

Photo: ISHR

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