Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

November 5, 1996

Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

* Seek to ensure that human rights issues are addressed by the Nigerian government
as a matter of priority

All governments are asked to use their influence to persuade the present Nigerian government to end its contempt for human rights. Transnational companies with significant investments in Nigeria, in particular those in the oil sector, should also seek to influence the Nigerian government to this end. In particular, the international community should press the Nigerian government to cooperate fully with international efforts to monitor the human rights situation in Nigeria.

Intergovernmental bodies should take the following steps over the next year:

i)UN member states should support the work of the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions and on the independence of judges and lawyers, whose reports on Nigeria are due to be considered by the Commission on Human Rights in March-April 1997;

ii)At the meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, UN member states should ensure that the recommendations of the Special Rapporteurs are adopted and lead to prompt action by the international community to bring about their implementation by the Nigerian government;

iii)UN member states should encourage the Nigerian government to ratify without delay all international human rights treaties which it has not yet ratified, including the Convention against Torture. At the same time, the Nigerian government should be encouraged to recognize the competence of the UN Committee against Torture;

iv)OAU member states should commit themselves to ensuring that the organization places Nigeria on its agenda at the forthcoming meetings of the Council of Ministers and Heads of State in February 1997 and June 1997 respectively, and that the OAU plays a more active role in persuading the present Nigerian government to respect human rights;

v)The African Commission on Human and Peoples´ Rights should take more effective action than it has yet done to ensure that Nigeria observes its binding legal obligations under the ACHPR;

vi)Member states of the Commonwealth should ensure that it takes full account of Nigeria´s human rights record when it meets at heads of state and government level in late-1997. At this meeting, the Commonwealth should consider Nigeria's human rights record on the basis of a report by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group containing specific recommendations for action on human rights by the Nigerian authorities. This report should be made public.

* Agree common and specific measures which the Nigerian government must
implement to establish respect for human rights

The specific steps set out above, if carried out, would demonstrate that governments are serious about seeking to safeguard human rights in Nigeria. However, something else is needed if international pressure is to produce significant results. International cooperation to protect and promote human rights in Nigeria should be based on a coordinated approach across the full range of intergovernmental organizations, founded on common and specific human rights measures which the Nigerian government should implement to establish respect for human rights.

Amnesty International believes that its 10-point program for human rights reform in Nigeria could be a basis for concerted action on Nigeria by the international community. Accordingly, Amnesty International asks individual governments and key intergovernmental organizations to endorse its 10-point program for human rights reform and to incorporate it into their policies on Nigeria.