Statement on International Human Rights Day
10 December 2020
The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) joins the Human Rights community and her partners all over the world to celebrate this year’s International Human Right’s Day tagged “Recover Better-Stand Up For Human Rights”.
The recent developments in Nigeria have undermined fundamental rights of citizens, pointing at a bleak future, if the anomalies are not promptly remedied. Educational standard is decreasing and low-quality health is the order of the day as more Nigerians continue to slide into poverty stratum. There are strong indicators that an average citizen has any reasonable chance of enjoying decent social and economic life. Many Nigerians die of hunger and starvation occasioned by widespread corruption, mismanagement of resources and misplaced policy priorities. The 2019 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index scored Nigeria 26 out of 100. This placed Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This corruption is the bane of underdevelopment, squalor, poverty and starvation and socio-economic decay in Nigeria.
Again, respect for the dignity of human persons is a mirage in Nigeria. There have been reports of government security forces arbitrarily killing lawful protesters. However, the Police, Military and other security personnel who perpetrate such dastardly brutal act against law abiding citizens hardly receive requisite punishments for the use of excessive force, including causing the death of persons in custody.
Reports have indicated that extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances have become rampant and a daily occurrence in Nigeria. Boko Haram, a militant Islamic sect, continues to carry out large scale of killings, abductions of individuals and community people in the States of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and other North-East States. The wanton killing of 43 rice farmers in a community in Borno State on November 28, 2020, is one recent case that shows that Nigeria is increasingly becoming unsafe, depriving the citizenry the right of free movement enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended. “The Nigerian government has failed in its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property and this failure, is one of the worst forms of human rights violations”, Dr. David Vareba, the Head of Human Rights and Governance of CEHRD noted.
This year has been tremendous for activism – notably by young people. It is particularly fitting that this year we are marking Human Rights Day following the End SARS Protest. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those millions of teenagers and young adults who have protested peacefully against years of SAR’s heinous violations of the rights of innocent Nigerians.
Rightly, these young persons are pointing out their future is at stake, and the future of generations of Nigeria that will come after. Unfortunately, till this moment, even following overwhelming forensic evidences of the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, the Nigerian government has refused to own up to the heinous violations.
It cannot, of course, be left to young people alone to tackle the immanent corrupt practices, or indeed the many other human rights violations that are currently causing simultaneous turbulent hardship and loss of lives across the States in Nigeria. “Every Nigerian must stand together, in solidarity, and act with principle and urgency”, Dr. Vareba insists.
We can, and must, uphold the painstakingly developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice and sustainable development. A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a darker past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint.
Mr Michael Chidozie
Senior Programme Officer, Communications and Advocacy
About International Human Rights Day
Every year on 10th December, the United Nations (UN) marks the International Human Rights Day. The day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 declaring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR became a milestone document that declares the undeniable rights entitled to everyone as human regardless of race, religion, colour, language, sex, political or other opinion, nationality or social origin, birth, property or other status.
This year, the United Nations with the theme: “Recover Better-Stand Up For Human Rights” relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses attention on the need to build our lost grounds and also ensuring that human rights are central to recovering efforts. Statistics of the UN, the World Bank and the global Human Rights communities have highlighted the increase in Gender-Based Violence cases and other Human Rights violations.
About CEHRD’s Programme on Human Rights
CEHRD human rights programme aims to integrate equity and fairness into policies and practices of our government. It is the reason CEHRD works with government institutions, and other Civil Society actors with the similar vision and mission and also with vulnerable citizens whose rights are being violated and abused by both States’ and non-States’ actors. Hence, CEHRD does intensive engagement and advocacy to State and National Assemblies, the Police and other State institutions to ensure that the policies of government have imports of human rights. CEHRD as well train the Police and the Health Ministry on strategies to reduce Gender Based Violence (GBV) in line with their mandates. CEHRD again, coordinates critical stakeholders who work around GBV to establish policy roadmaps for GBV response. Through trainings, CEHRD supports community women and girls to change unwholesome culturally prescribed roles and become equal partners in development. The Human Rights Desk of CEHRD is active as it monitors and document cases of human rights violations and abuses. It takes reports of such violations from the public and mediate for peace or refer to institutional partners- the Police or the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation. In the coming years, CEHRD will be active in Human Right Education (HRE). The need for HRE in our society today is indispensable as statistics have indicated that even most learned persons don’t know their rights. It is important that Nigerian citizens know their rights, as knowing their rights is the best panacea to reducing human rights violations and abuses.