Defend Rights Defenders, ANEEJ says on World Rights/Anti-Corruption Days

Press Release

3rd December, 2015

Benin City, Edo State…With Nigeria, South Africa, Myanmar, Kenya, and 36 other states and governments haven voted against a UN Resolution seeking to protect human rights defenders, ANEEJ reiterates its belief in the fundamental rights of all men to be equal before the law and in the eyes of God. Human Rights Defenders are activists who contribute to sustainable development, and the realization of social, economic and political rights.

The UN Resolution which was sponsored by the Norwegian government saw 40 states like Cameroon, Mozambique, Congo and Uganda abstaining from the important vote to defend those who fight for human rights. An official of the International Service for Human Rights, ISHR, Madeleine Sinclair said that Nigeria’s nay vote effectively denies the importance of independent civil society and dissent to democracy and development.

For ANEEJ, Nigeria’s position is surprising and deeply worrying. This is a government that rode to power promising ‘change’ and a departure from impunity. Before his election as president, many Nigerians were apprehensive that General Muhammadu Buhari would likely revert to his old ways of dictatorship and abuse of human rights. Therefore, aligning with governments like China and Russia – governments with appalling instances of repression – a nay vote against the protection of human rights defenders at the UN sends a chilling message of the tenor of this government to human rights.

This is the first time in its 16-year history that a vote has been called on the UN’s General Assembly resolution on Human Rights. What made the nay-vote from Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya significant is that it was the Africa Group which tabled a record 39 amendments to the text for adoption that was presented before the General Assembly. According to a statement from the office of the ISHR, ‘the amendments sought to delete whole paragraphs related to the need to combat impunity for violations and abuses against defenders and the need to ensure adequate procedural safeguards in judicial proceedings’. ANEEJ notes that if this trend continues, NGOs and human rights defender’s offices would soon be shut down and human rights defenders jailed arbitrarily as is being done in Uganda, East Africa.

Further to the World Human Rights Day billed to hold on December 10, 2015 with the theme: Our Rights, Our Freedoms Always, the Africa Network for Environment & Economic Justice, ANEEJ, in conformity with its avowed vision and mission of protecting the rights of the Nigerian Citizen and to bring corruption to its knees, is organizing a 2-day seminar/rally in commemoration of the World Human Rights Day, December 10. On this same date in 1948, the United Nations enunciated the first global proclamation and declaration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UNHR. This Declaration took place at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V) invited all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they see fit. Over 72 years later after this declaration, there are still scandalous instances of human rights abuses the world over.

ANEEJ has been in the forefront of the crusade to protect the rights of the downtrodden and oppressed. ANEEJ states that inequality and corruption stop at nothing to protect the status quo of inequality and corruption. At several instances, it has been proven that very corrupt people who are in control of the instruments of coercion and intimidation stop at nothing to use these instruments to oppress the downtrodden and take away their fundamental human rights.

To this end, ANEEJ will organize a press conference on World Anti-Corruption Day 9th December 2015 and lead a walk around the Kings Square in Benin City. With that walk/march, ANEEJ seeks to highlight the significance of the equality of all men and women in the eyes of the law, to empower the downtrodden and encourage them to speak out against oppression and corruption, create more awareness on human rights abuses, and start a social media platform or campaign to fight corruption and rights abuses. ANEEJ will coordinate faith-based organizations, NGOs, University Students and teachers, state and non-state actors and the epistemic community in the march around the King’s Square, Benin City.

Citizens and residents in Benin City are encouraged to converge at the King’s Square Benin City, on the 10th December, 2015 for the march against corruption. Before that day, key speakers have been billed to speak against human rights abuses at the ANEEJ Secretariat in Benin City.

ABOUT ANEEJ: To contribute to the emergence of a just and equitable African society through socio-economic and environmental rights protection, institutional strengthening and people’s empowerment.

For more information please contact:
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
Communications Manager
Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ
39 Oyaide Street,
Off Benoni, GRA,
Benin City,
+2348156171133, +2348187674339
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