Online freedoms absent and sexual rights rejected in Nigeria's Universal Periodic Review

LAGOS, Nigeria, Mar 20

Civil society groups spoke out today at the Human Rights Council 25th session in Geneva as Nigeria rejects recommendations to ensure the universality of human rights as part of its Universal Periodic Review. In a joint oral statement endorsed by Fantsuam Foundation, Development Dynamics, PEN Nigeria, and CIVICUS, representatives from APC urged the government of Nigeria to reconsider policies and practices that are in clear violation of international human rights standards and commitments.

In October 2013 Nigeria participated in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a new UN mechanism by which States are reviewed on the human rights situation in their country. During the review, Nigeria received 10 recommendations from other states to protect the rights of sexual minorities and ensure the universality of human rights irrespective of gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and religious affiliation. Each of these recommendations was ultimately rejected.

Freedom of expression and the right to privacy online were completely absent from discussion of Nigeria’s human rights record at the UPR, despite growing fears over new legislation, including the Lawful Interception of Information Bill, and Nigeria’s public commitment to protecting human rights online.

In June 2012 Nigeria supported the landmark Human Rights Council resolution 20/8, which affirms that the same rights that human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society actors have offline “must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice.”

Working with a coalition of civil society groups, including Paradigm Initiative and Fantsuam Foundation, APC submitted a joint report to the UPR for Nigeria in 2013. This report made recommendations on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and women’s human rights online.

Civil society groups are also present in Geneva today to hold Nigeria accountable for recommendations accepted during its review, including recommendations to fully implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), improve policies and practices to combat violence against women and children, address gender and regional disparities regarding the right to education, and guarantee a favourable climate for the activities of human rights defenders, journalists and other actors in civil society. Similar recommendations were made during Nigeria’s 2009 review, with no significant progress made.

Broad coalition groups are now working to plan follow-up to the review, to ensure implementation of the adopted recommendations. It is hoped that the government of Nigeria will reconsider its policies and practices that are in clear violation of international human rights standards and commitments.

*The adoption of recommendations made to Nigeria at the Universal Periodic Review took place today, 20 March 2014, and can be viewed online at http://webtv.un.org.

(FIN/2014)

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