Freedom of Expression and the Media

Freedom of Expression and the Media

Human Rights Defenders

Human Rights Defenders

Labour

Labour

Right to Health

Right to Health

Refugees Internally Displaced Persons, Migrants And Asylum Seekers

Refugees Internally Displaced Persons, Migrants And Asylum Seekers

Environment, Niger Delta And Development

Environment, Niger Delta And Development

Food and Shelter

Food and Shelter

The Rights of Women and Gender Related Matters

The Rights of Women and Gender Related Matters

Child Rights

Child Rights

Right To Education

Right To Education

Freedom of Religion or Belief and Peaceful Assembly

Freedom of Religion or Belief and Peaceful Assembly

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#StandUp4HumanRights

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The Commission serves as an extra-judicial mechanism for the respect and enjoyment of human rights. It also provides avenues for public enlightenment, research, and dialogue in order to raise awareness on Human Rights issues.

The thematic area on Environment, Niger Delta and Development is covered by a three man team, whose members are 

  • Yemisi Akhile
  • Tina Oduneye
  • Uzoamaka Ifechi-Fred,

The thematic team is headed by Yemisi Akhile

The right to favourable environment is protected by natural, regional and international human rights instruments. The thematic area focuses on protecting human rights, to advocating for a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and also recognises that this is integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. 

Without a healthy environment, people are unable to fulfil their aspirations or even live at a level commensurate with minimum standards of human dignity.  At the same time, protecting human rights helps to protect the environment.  When people are able to learn about, and participate in, the decisions that affect them, they can help to ensure that those decisions respect their need for a sustainable environment. 

In recent years, the recognition of the links between human rights and the environment has greatly increased.  The number and scope of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions, and academic studies on the relationship between human rights, environment and development have grown rapidly.

All over the world, people experience the negative effects of environmental degradation ecosystems decline, including water shortage, fisheries depletion, natural disasters due to deforestation and unsafe management and disposal of toxic and dangerous wastes and products. Indigenous peoples suffer directly from the degradation of the ecosystems that they rely upon for their livelihoods. Climate change is exacerbating many of these negative effects of environmental degradation on human health and well-being and is also causing new ones, including an increase in extreme weather events and an increase in spread of malaria and other vector born diseases. These facts clearly show the close linkages between the environment and the enjoyment of human rights, and justify an integrated approach to environment, development and human rights. 

The thematic area specified the Niger Delta area of Nigeria being that a lot of human rights violation have occurred in the area as a result of environmental abuse through oil exploration, spillage, gas flaring and a list of others.

The thematic team is charged with the responsibility of education and advocacy on human rights promotion and protection as it relates to environment, Niger-Delta   and Development. In addition, the thematic team has the responsibility of identifying NGOs and international partners that the Commission can partner/ collaborate with in providing training and sensitisation under the thematic team.

 

 

The freedom of expression and the media is a very important thematic area of focus of the Commission. The import of this aspect of human rights is felt in many ways. For instance, apart from projecting the activities of the Commission to the public, it addresses issues which ensure that the principles of expression and communication through various media including prints and electronic media, especially published materials are considered as a right to be exercised freely. 

The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right which is contained in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and it states: “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the rights includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. The right to freedom of expression is also contained in chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and other International Human Rights Instruments which Nigeria is a party.

The exercise of this right is essential for guaranteeing human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Without free expression and free media, violations of human rights may remain hidden with the propensity to give rise to impunity and continuous violations. 

So, the Commission encourages the exercise of this right to enable citizens to fully enjoy their fundamental human rights as enshrined in various national, regional and international human rights instruments. 

LABOUR (THEMATIC AREA)

  1. Introduction:

The Labour thematic focus of the Commission principally has to do with the promotion of right based approach to labour, employment, remuneration, union etc. Team members are: (i) Fatima Mai (CLO)  (ii) Angela Ogbame (CLO) (iii) Patrick Ebhodaghe (PLO) (iv) Bimbo Olanubi (SIO).

  1. Body:

There are several international, regional and municipal labour instruments under which the labour thematic area operates, some of these instruments are; i. Forced Labour Convention, 1930 ii. Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 iii.Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 iv. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) v. Labour Act.

The Commission through the Labour thematic focus area engages with both local and international organizations on activities that promotes international best practices on labour.

  1. Activities:

On the 9th of August, 2019, the Labour thematic focus team and the Director, Women, Children and Vulnerable Group Department, Mr. Harry obe, hosted some staff of the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the Commission. The reason for the ILO’s visit was for the Commission to contribute to the ILO’s regional report on fair recruitment. Members of the ILO team were: i. Ms. Lotte Kejser ii.Austin Erameh iii. Mansour Omeira.

On the 19th September, 2019, the Director, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Mr. Salihu Musa, the Director, Corporate Affairs and External Linkages, Mr. Lambert Opara, the Director, Civil and Political Rights, Mr. A.A. Yakubu with some members of staff of the ESCR department played host to the United Nations Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and Non-Discrimination, Leilani Farha and Jon Izarirre Garcia, Human Rights Officer at the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner.

  1. Conclusion:

The UN Special Rapporteur, Leilani Farha, was at the Commission on a fact finding mission to ascertain how the Commission handles complaints on inadequate housing, forced eviction/compulsory acquisition of properties by government, demolition etc.

She was also interested in the final report of the Commission’s Special Panel on Forced Eviction and Demolition constituted by the then Governing Council of the Commission.

Human Rights Defenders play a major role towards the enlightenment, observation and enforcement of human rights values in the society. 

Human Rights Defenders or human rights activists are people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. They can be journalists, environmentalists, whistle blowers, trade unionists, lawyers, teachers, housing campaigners and so on. They can defend rights as part of their jobs (e.g. NHRC) or in a voluntary capacity e.g. CLO. As a result of their activities, they can sometimes be the subject of reprisals and attacks of all kinds, including smears, surveillance, harassment, false charges, arbitrary detention, restriction on the right to Freedom of association and physical attacks. 

Duty/ roles of human rights defenders

 

The United Nation adopted a declaration on human rights defenders in 1998. A number of initiatives were taken, both at the international and regional level to increase the protection of defenders and contribute to the implementation of the Declaration. In this context, the following mechanisms and guidelines were established. 

  1. The mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders (2000)
  2. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on human rights defenders (2004)

Human Rights Defenders are notable indeed visible in areas such as issuing press releases, studies of possible violations or abuses of human rights, reports, statements as country visits institutional events and trials observed.

In their role of protecting and defending human rights, it was identified through a study that human rights defenders connected to agribusiness, mining and renewable energy sectors as those in greatest danger.  Lawyers and members of environmental groups were also at risk. 

Challenges facing human rights defenders

 

Not all human rights work places or human rights defenders are at risk and some states defenders are generally well protected. However, the severity and scale of reprisals committed against defenders were one of the primary motivations behind the adoption of the declaration on human rights defenders and the establishment of the mandate of Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders at the United Nations and Africa Union levels. 

The Rapporteurs have expressed concern for the situation of human rights defenders in all countries including both emerging democracies and countries with long established democratic institutions, practices and traditions. Nevertheless, special emphasis has been placed on countries where  (a) internal armed conflict or severe civil unrest exists, (b) the legal and institutional protections and guarantees of human rights are not fully  assured or do not exist at all.

Most defenders in all regions of the world have been the target of executions, torture, beatings arbitrary arrest and detention, death threats, harassment and defamation, as well as restrictions on their freedoms of movement, expression, association and assembly. The Defenders have been victims of false accusations. 

Violations most commonly target either human rights defenders themselves or the organisations and mechanisms through which they work. Sometimes violations target members of defenders families as a means of applying pressure to the defender. Some human rights defenders are at greater risk because of the nature of the rights they seek to protect women human rights defender sometimes confront risks that are gender specific and require particular attention. 

In most cases, acts committed against human rights defender are in violation of both international and national law. In some countries, however, domestic legislation which itself contravenes international human rights law is used against defenders. 

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, one must have a passion for this job, not just to get employed because one is looking for a job. The job of human rights defender goes beyond the normal civil or public service attitudes. Sometimes, you may be requested to intervene during the weekend over a violation or abuse, even outside official working hours.

 

RIGHT TO HEALTH (THEMATIC TEAM)

  1. Introduction:

Right to Health is the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Right to health extends to ensuring clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition and through a comprehensive system of healthcare.

The thematic area is comprised of Four (4) dedicated Staff comprising Fidelia Osemeata Oroh (Head), Fatima Abubakar Shamaki and Valerie Duruh, forming a thematic team charged with the responsibility of promoting, protecting and enforcing the right to health as safeguarded by the various human instruments. The team is also charged with the responsibility of liaising and cooperating with local and international organizations on right to health with the purpose of advancing the promotion and protection of same, undertaking studies and making appropriate recommendations to the Commission, promoting an understanding of public discussions of right to health issues in Nigeria among other functions which may be prescribed from time to time.

  1. Body:

The right to health is accorded recognition by several international treaties to most of which Nigeria is a party. The most important of these treaties are the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Nigeria is also a party to two health-related civil and political rights treaties, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Regionally, the Right to Health is guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Nationally, it is guaranteed under Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the National Health Insurance Scheme Act (1999) etc.

  1. Activities:

The Commission has partnered with several MDAs like the Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of Aids as well as varied INGO’s and NGO’s over the years towards the realization of its goal in advancing the right to health of Nigerian. The Commission put in place the NHRC Critical Mass to mainstream HIV/AIDS in all sectoral activities. In furtherance of its mandate, the Commission plans to set up human rights desks in hospitals, conduct an intervention in the health section in response to complaints about quackery, malpractice and negligence in the health sector amongst other laudable and lofty goals.

Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), focusing on health, is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”, however, it should be noted that almost all the Goals can be linked to health as a well-functioning health system is fundamental to the right to health and therefore the realisation of other SDGs. State parties are already legally obliged under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to “devote maximum available resources to the right to health”, which includes funding struggling health systems. 

  1. Challenges:

In recent years, notable progress has been made, but significant challenges remain. Women around the world continue to lack access to sexual and reproductive health care; thousands of new cases of HIV/AIDS continue to occur each day, billions of people are left without access to essential medicines, millions of adults and children suffer from undernourishment.

  1. Conclusion:

Health is a fundamental human right and a key indicator of sustainable development. Poor health threatens the rights of children to education, limits economic opportunities for men and women and increases poverty within communities and countries around the world. It is also impacted by poverty and strongly connected to other aspects of sustainable development, including water and sanitation, gender equality, climate change and peace and stability.

In order to accelerate progress and address new health challenges, all actors, including the private sector need to partner to develop health care solutions that work for people, families, communities and nations and it is the work of the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that it is at the forefront of the fight to promote, protect and enforce the human rights of all Nigerians.

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