Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

November 5, 1996

Nigeria: Time to end contempt for human rights

The Nigerian authorities have, in any event, violated the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. They have failed to initiate prompt and impartial investigations into allegations of extrajudicial executions. They have failed to publish reports arising from such investigations and they have not brought to justice the perpetrators. The only allegation of extrajudicial executions which is known to have been investigated by an independent judicial body is the Umuechem massacre in 1990 in Rivers State, in which 80 members of the Etche ethnic group were killed. The conclusions of a judicial commission of inquiry into these killings have never been made public, although its findings were leaked in 1992. No action is known to have been taken to bring to justice those officers of the Mobile Police Force named in the report as responsible for the killings.


The present Nigerian government urgently needs to take steps to establish respect for human rights in the country. This section sets out a 10-point program for human rights reform in Nigeria. Each of the 10 points in this program relates to a specific thematic concern of Amnesty International´s regarding the lack of respect for human rights in Nigeria. These concerns are: the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience; unfair trial; torture and ill-treatment; the death penalty; and suspected extrajudicial executions.

Amnesty International calls upon the present Nigerian government to implement the following 10-Point program for human rights reform. It should:

1 Commit itself to establishing respect for human rights in Nigeria and to cooperating
with the international community in this endeavour

The present government should issue a public declaration that it will in future fully respect Nigeria´s international legal obligations with regard to human rights. Furthermore, it should declare that it will respect rights defined in the Constitution and relevant national legislation, where these conform to international standards. It should set out in this declaration the specific steps which it intends to take to implement this commitment. As a demonstration of its commitment to cooperating with the international community on human rights, it should cease to obstruct efforts by intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to monitor the human rights situation in Nigeria and to investigate alleged human rights violations. Intergovernmental bodies whose representatives should be given unhindered access include the UN, the African Commission on Human and Peoples´ Rights and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.