Nigeria UPR: Ensure a safe working environment for journalists, defenders

As the Human Rights Council discussed the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report for Nigeria, ISHR and Partnership for Justice urged authorities to ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.

The adoption of the report of the review of the 4th UPR cycle for Nigeria saw its representatives share explanations as to why it only noted some recommendations of the current cycle.

Indeed, Nigeria accepted 279 recommendations, including those on the protection of freedoms of peaceful assembly, expression and opinion, and on ensuring a safe and enabling environment for defenders, journalists and civil society.

These recommendations call on the Nigerian government to expedite the process of reviewing legislation undermining the enjoyment of these rights, as well as amending the Nigerian Press Council Act of 1992, which restricts journalists’ freedom of expression.

During the review, Nigeria stated that the country is committed to upholding human rights that are aligned to societal norms, national values and domestic laws. In response to recommendations on same-sex relationships, the Nigerian delegation argued that Nigeria’s Marriage Act defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, while Christianity and Islam, the main religions in the country, also adhere to this definition, and that, therefore, they do not consider that alleged discrimination applies or exists in the country.

Other Member States and civil society organisations raised concerns on issues such as a hostile working environment for human rights defenders and journalists. 

In a joint statement, ISHR and Nigerian NGO Partnership for Justice said that, though the recommendations ensure protection of human rights defenders and journalists, law enforcement officers and laws are still used to undermine the work of human rights defenders. 

Therefore, we called on the Nigerian government to: 

  • Develop and enact a specific legal framework to recognise and protect the right to defend human rights giving full effect to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Declaration +25 at the national level;
  • Ensure that human rights violations by  law enforcement agencies are prevented through adequate training, and ensure accountability for violations that have occurred and guarantee the right to remedy for victims.

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