Today, human rights issues have not only become a global concern but remarkable interest aimed at protecting and promoting universal respect for, and observance of human rights. Indeed the issue of human rights, in the recent past, has penetrated the international dialogue, become an active ingredient in interstate relations and has burst the sacred bounds of national sovereignty. The formation of the United Nations Organisation and the promulgation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 provided a firm foundation for the historical developments and globalisation of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 represents a bold attempt by the United Nations to elaborate on and give concrete and authoritative expression to the imprecise and ambivalent definition of human rights contained in the United Nations Charter. The Universal declaration of Human Rights has served as a template for subsequent human rights instruments and has had a positive impact on the legal, political, and cultural evolutions of nations and remains the mirror by which every individual and every organ of society reflects on human rights. Since the adoption and promulgation of the UDHR 1948, the United Nations has not wavered in its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
THE CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Human Rights are natural and inherent in all human beings regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethic origin or any other status. Human Rights are the fundamental feactures of any true Democratic setting because the essence of democracy itself is based on the idea of Human rights.
By virtue of man’s creation, man has certain rights which are basic, fundamental and are attached to his being created. Human rights are said to be rights which cannot be said to have been given to man by man but are earned by man for being human because they are necessary for his continuous happy existence with himself, his fellow man and for participation in a complex society. Therefore, constitutions, treaties, charters or codes do not create human rights but declare and preserve existing rights.
Human Rights has been defined as the inalienable and imprescriptible rights of people. They are the legal entitlements which every citizen should enjoy without fear of the government or other fellow citizens. In the case of SAUDE v. ABDULLAHI (1989) 4 NWLR (PT 116) 387 AT 419, the Supreme Court declared thus “Fundamental rights are important and they are not just mere rights, they belong to the citizen. These rights have always existed even before orderliness prescribed rules for the manner they are to be sought”. In RANSOME KUTI & ORS v. AG FEDERATION & ORS (1985) 2 NWLR P.211 @ 230, per Kayode Eso JSC held thus “Fundamental rights are rights which stand above the ordinary laws of the land and which in fact is antecedent to the political society itself”.
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999 (AS AMENDED)
The fundamental Rights provision are contained in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution comprising sections 33-45. These rights are guaranteed, justiciable and enforceable in courts of law in Nigeria. These fundamental rights are;
1. Right to life – See Section 33
2. Right to dignity of human person – See Section 34
3. Right to Personal liberty – See Section 35
4. Right to fair hearing – See Section 36
5. Right to Private and family life – See Section 37
6. Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – See Section 38
7. Right to Freedom of expression and the press – See Section 39
8. Right to peaceful assembly and association – See Section 40
9. Right to Freedom of Movement – See Section 41
10. Right to Freedom from discrimination – See Section 42
11. Right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria – See Section 43
12. Compulsory acquisition of property – See Section 44.
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE AND THEIR PREVENTION
Human Right abuse occurs when individuals are denied their fundamental rights. It is a social problem which is unfair, cruel or violent in nature. There are several ways of preventing Human Rights Abuse and they are;
1. By showing respect for and obedience to the law of the land.
2. By educating citizens on their Rights
3. By imposing sanctions on those who abuse other people’s rights.
4. Equality before the law
5. By collectively fighting human right abusers.
6. Participating in the activities of the human rights organization.
7. By insisting on your rights
8. Educating the violator
9. Never let go when your right is violated
10. By exposing the culprit and publishing the encounter.
11. Challenge your violation of human right in court
12. By protecting the rights of others
13. Don’t violate others rights
14. Be right and stay upright.
EFFECTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE
The effects of Human Rights Abuse are as follows;
1. It can breeds high rate of insecurity
2. It can lead to obvious hindrance to National development
3. It can lead to poverty
4. It can create unlawful detention and lawlessness with gross violation of the rules of law
5. It makes people unpatriotic and Rebellious
6. It can lead to self-help or jungle justice
7. It can lead to overthrow of government and political system either by military or through revolutions.
WHO ARE THE PERPETRATORS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE.
There are several actors involved in human rights abuse and they are;
1. State authorities
2. Police and Security forces
3. Armed groups
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Across the world, countries, organizations and various institutions are expected to protect the Human rights. To ensure human right protection, some agencies were created to monitor, report violations and in some cases force countries and organizations to abide by the human rights. Some of these national and international agencies include;
1. National Human Rights Commission
2. Office of Public Offender
3. Human Rights Law service
4. Access to Justice
5. Devatop center for Africa Development
6 Women Trafficking and Child Eradication foundation
7. Youths for Human Rights protection and transparency initiative
8. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights
9. Amnesty international
10. International Labour Organization
11. Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
12 Human Rights watch
13. United Nations foundation.
14. World Health Organization
15. United Nations development programme.
HUMAN RIGHTS LAWS OR LEGAL INSTRUMENTS
The Human rights laws applicable in the world and Nigeria are;
1. National Human Rights Commission Act, 1995
2. Public Complaint Commission Act, 1975
3. African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification & Enforcement) Act 1983
4. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended)
5. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
6. International Bill of Human rights
7. International covenant on civil and political rights
8. Charter of the United Nations
HOW TO REPORT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION
Both Nigerian and international law recognizes certain basic rights and freedoms. If you witness law enforcement agencies or actors violating human rights, there are number of things you can do to stop the violations.
In Nigeria, you can report a case of human right violation to the Nigerian government by
1. Contacting the appropriate agency
2. By drafting a petition and getting signatures from people
3. By calling or writing to your senator or representative.
You can report violations of human right to international organization by
1. Choose the organization best suited to respond
2. Read international human rights law
3. Draft your Report
4. Submit your report to the appropriate organization
5. Cooperate with the organization in any follow-up activities.
You can report violation through activism by
1. Organizing a protest
2. Going to the media
3. Starting a social media campaign
4. Volunteer for a human rights organization
WHO CAN APPLY FOR ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS UNDER THE NIGERIA LAW
The categories of persons who can apply for enforcement of the Rights contained either in the constitution or African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights duly ratified in Nigeria by virtue of Section 12(1) of the constitution are as follows;
1. Anyone acting in the interest of the victim
2. Anyone acting on behalf of the victim
3. Anyone acting as a member of, or in the interest of or class of persons
4. Anyone acting in the public interest
5. Association acting in the interest of its members or other individuals or groups.
The Preambular paragraph 3(e) of Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 was made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria pursuant to Section 46(3) of the constitution. This preambular paragraph has encourage Public interest Litigation by Human Rights groups and activists and complement Section 46(1) of the constitution thereby making Locus standi an albatross.
COURTS WITH JURISDICTION TO HEAR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA.
The courts are;
1. The Federal High Court
2. The State High Court
3. The National Industrial Court.
SEE: SECTION 46(1) & 254(C)(1) of the Constitution.
REMEDIES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE
1. Award of Damages to the Victim
2. Court’s injunction to restrain the violators
3. Compensation to the Victim
4. Public apology.
By: Miracle Akusobi, Esq.