EU Approves Measures To Punish Human Rights Abusers

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology


The EU on Monday took on powers to punish human rights abusers anywhere in the world, though the new sanctions regime would only take effect with unanimous approval by member states.

Foreign ministers approved the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, which would be used in cases such as torture, slavery or systematic sexual violence.

The new framework would allow the EU to identify rights abusers and freeze their assets in Europe and ban them from travelling to the bloc.

But these must be “serious violations” and the final decision is left to the discretion of member states.

The EU could already impose penalties for human rights violations, but it is usually done within sanctions frameworks linked to specific countries, conflicts or crises.

It also has three specific regimes to sanction the use of chemical weapons, cyber-attacks and terrorism.

Eight close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, accused by the EU of being involved in the poisoning in Russia of opponent Alexei Navalny, were sanctioned on October 15 under the chemical weapons regime.

Their names were included in a list along with Syrians found guilty of similar offences.

The new human rights measures have been compared to the US Magnitsky Act, which was passed in 2012 after the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Russian jail in 2009.

Washington has used the act to slap tough sanctions on dozens of senior Russian officials, blocking them from visiting the United States or affecting their finances.

Other “Magnitsky Acts” have been passed in Britain, Canada and the three Baltic states.

In the EU, member states limited the initial ambitions of the bloc’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell, pushing for unanimous approval of any decision.

“The rule that has prevailed for a number of years with regard to the adoption of sanctions is the practice of unanimity. There is no change from this practice,” the representatives of the member states said.

Lithuanian Minister Linas Linkevicius pointed out that the EU measures were not as extensive as the US Magnitsky Act.

“We hope that this new regime can in the future be expanded to include acts of corruption,” he said.

In a statement before the start of the meeting, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the new framework could be considered a “warning” to Turkey.

The EU has accused Turkey of backsliding on democratic standards and human rights, saying a crackdown launched after a coup attempt in 2016 was having a “profound and devastating impact”.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday welcomed the EU’s new initiative.

“Those who torture or are responsible for human trafficking should no longer be able to shop in Europe without worry in the future,” he said.


Security Forces Asked To Respect Human Rights During Operations

A file photo of policemen on a stationed patrol van.


Security personnel have been reminded to uphold the fundamental human rights of citizens while carrying out their duties in order to deal with the challenges of violent extremism in the country.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, gave the reminder on Friday at a three-day workshop for security personnel in Kaduna State, organised, as part of efforts to curb all forms of human rights abuses and brutality by security agents when carrying out their constitutional duties.

Monguno who was represented by Zakari Maijinyawa, urged the security operatives to always play by the rules of engagement while in the field without violating the rights of citizens.

The training facilitator, Professor Ifeanyi Onyeonoru, as well as the Project Manager, Prevention of Violation and Extremism, Chukwuma Ume, also spoke at the event.

They urged the participants to adapt the manual in their various training institutions, as well as mainstream and institutionalise the PVE Human Rights Sensitive training manual in their training curriculum.

A representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kabir Aliyu, gave an assurance that the agency would provide guidance and expertise, as well as monitor the implementation.

For participants, drawn from the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS), and other paramilitary agencies, the training is timely and will enhance inter-agency collaboration and cordial civil-military relations in the enforcement of law and order.

Over the years, there have been several reported cases of human rights abuses by security agents with perpetrators going scot-free in most cases.

This, among others, led to the launched of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.

This was done with the notion that the response to violent extremism cannot be defeated by force of arms alone, but through people-centred and community-oriented policies, especially as it relates to respect for human rights.

Since the launching of the Policy Framework, the Office of the NAS has worked with partners to provide capacity building in responding to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, as required by the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013.

The capacity building training for security personnel on prevention of violent extremism and respect for human rights is in line with Component Two of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which seeks to strengthen access to justice, rule of law, and human rights.

Organised by the office of the NSA in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event comes in the aftermath of the recent nationwide protest against police brutality.

It aims to enlighten the security personnel on the role of human rights law and practice in the Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) and focuses on different aspects of human rights such as crime investigation, arrest and detention; and the use of force and firearms in law enforcement of human rights, among others.

Amnesty Raises Alarm Over Threat To Staff In Nigeria, Vows Not To Be Silent

Accountability For Human Rights Violations Remains Elusive, Says Amnesty
A photo showing the logo of Amnesty International.


Human rights group, Amnesty International has raised an alarm over threats to staff in Nigeria but said irrespective of the development, it will not back down in its fight against injustice.

“Amnesty International draws the attention of the Nigerian authorities and the general public to the intimidation and outright threats of attacks that were issued against its staff, supporters, and premises by a faceless and unknown group at a press conference held on 4 November 2020,” the group said in a statement on its Twitter handle on Friday.

“Similar faceless groups had previously invaded our office and given us ultimatum to leave Nigeria. Amnesty International is a global human rights movement and we are independent of any government.”

In spite of these attacks, Amnesty international restated this “we will not stay silent. In the face of efforts to evade responsibility or to smear our organization, we will continue to raise our voices whenever and wherever we see injustice.”

While saying it is not affiliated to any government, ideology, or interest, and have been working in Nigeria since June 1967, it said “the Nigerian authorities owe a legal duty to ensure the protection of lives and properties what every person in the country.

“Malicious threats will not deter us from continuing to speak against human rights violation and abuses by state and non-state actors.”



#EndSARS: NHRC Constitutes Panel To Tackle Human Rights Violations


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has constituted an 11-man Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to look into allegations of human rights violations levelled against the operatives of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigeria Police Force.

NHRC Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu revealed on Friday in Abuja, saying the panel will hear petitions, complaints and memoranda from Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.

The committee headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima, is expected to make recommendations to the federal government on how best to reform SARS and other units of the Force.

Other members of the committee include: Other members of the Panel are: Abdulrahaman Yakubu, Yemi Ademolakun, Chioma Chuka, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Tijani Mohammed, Dr. Uju Agomoh, DIG Ibrahim Lamorde, Dr. Garba Tetengi, Feyikemi Abudu, John Aikpokpo Martins, Hilary Ogbonna



In line with the National Human Rights Commission’s mandate and in response to the nationwide agitations by some Nigerian youth groups under the auspices of End SARS, the NHRC has constituted an 11-man Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) to look into allegations of human rights violations against the defunct SARS and other units of the force.

The Committee headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme  Court, Justice Suleiman Galadima will hear petitions, complaints and memoranda from Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, and thereafter make recommendations to the federal government on how best to reform SARS and other units of the Police force.

The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu Esq. who made this known in Abuja Friday evening noted that the terms of reference of the Panel include, investigate all complaints of human rights violations against SARS and other units of the Police force, make appropriate recommendations as per the damages and compensations to be paid to the victims of Police brutality.

Besides, the Panel is given the powers to refer any matter, in the course of their assignment to the Attorney General of the Federation, or that of a State for prosecution in accordance with the law.

The panel is empowered as well to make recommendations to government on measures to be taken in respect of operatives of defunct SARS or officers of the Nigerian Police Force, if any, found in violation of human rights of citizens and propose remedial steps that may enhance the professional conduct of defunct SARS operatives, any succeeding unit and other members of the Nigerian Police Force and any other recommendations that may be considered appropriate.

Other members of the Panel are:

. Member – Abdulrahaman Yakubu

. Member – Yemi Ademolakun

. Member – Chioma Chuka

. Member – Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa

. Member – Tijani Mohammed

. Member – Dr. Uju Agomoh

. Member – DIG Ibrahim Lamorde

. Member – Dr. Garba Tetengi, SAN, mni

.Member – Feyikemi Abudu

.Member – John Aikpokpo Martins

.Secretary of the Panel – Hilary Ogbonna

Ojukwu also disclosed that all petitions, complaints and memoranda must reach the Commission, which is the Secretariate of the Panel on or before 31 October, 2020.

Human Rights Commission To Investigate Violations By SARS Operatives


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it will set up an independent investigation panel to probe human rights violations by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other segments of the Nigerian Police within the next one week.

The decision was taken on 12th October 2020 at a Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum (MSF) in Abuja organised by the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu Esq. and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu as a follow-up to the recent disbandment of SARS by the IGP.

Mr Ojukwu said that “An open call for Memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the Commission within a week.

The NHRC Chief Executive Officer disclosed that the Forum “recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.

There was also an agreement by the forum that the Inspector General of Police should order all State Police Commands to halt the use of force against protesters and to release arrested protesters and citizens unconditionally.

Lawyers Demand End To Police Brutality

The Forum, according to him, resolved to set up the following Technical Committees, to be supported by the NHRC and other Civil Society Organisations to design the roadmap and a work plan for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS;

– Training, Capacity and Re-Orientation

– Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology

– Arrest, Detention and Investigations

– Regulations, Oversight and Accountability

– Finance and Partnerships

The Forum noted that the proposed reforms should be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad which was jointly authored by the National Human Rights Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.

The reform proposals for the Nigerian Police Force will be based on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and existing legislations such as the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, The National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.

The forum further affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement which bothers on giving justice to victims of SARS brutality and improved working conditions for police personnel are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the Government.

Don’t Castrate Rape Offenders, Human Rights Commission Tells El-Rufai


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed concern over the recent amendment of the Kaduna State Penal Code Law No.5 of 2017, thereby asking the state governor not to castrate rape offenders.

The amended penal code provides stiffer penalties to the offence of rape, including castration of offenders.

NHRC is of the opinion that castration in this regard negates human rights standards and principles and therefore should be jettisoned.

The Commission is therefore calling on the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to withhold his assent to the amended Penal Code Law until the State Assembly expunges the aspect of the law that stipulates castration of culprits “because this is contrary to Section 34 (1)(a) of the Constitution of Nigeria and its implementation, therefore, constitutes a violation of the right to dignity of the human person”.

Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq. who stated this in Abuja Monday while reacting to new Kaduna State House of Assembly legislation on rape and other Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) observed that the said amendments violate Section 2(ix) of the Anti-Torture Act of 2017, which outlaws “mutilation such as amputation of essential parts of the body such as the genitalia, ears or tongue and any other part of the body”.

According to the Executive Secretary, the amendment violates the principal corpus of international human rights norms, including article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“Which means there can be no justification for torture, no exceptional circumstance whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture”, the NHRC Chief Executive Officer recalled.

The Commission, whilst acknowledging the power of the Kaduna State House of Assembly under section 4(6) and (7) of the Constitution of Nigeria “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof,” states that in this circumstance, legislative power has not been exercised for the common good, for human rights and dignity of citizens of Kaduna State, he emphasised.

Ojukwu, therefore, restated that torture cannot be justified even with criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law such as the Penal Code Law of Kaduna State, otherwise, it will be tantamount to legislating torture.

The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria cited the 2017 Penal Code Law, wherein the offence of rape carried a sentence of 21 years imprisonment for the rape of an adult and life imprisonment for the rape of a minor, and “the Commission considers these provisions to be comprehensive inline international best practices, whereas the new amendment is capable of undermining the progress Nigeria is making in the protection of human rights and advancement of the rule of law.

He stated the readiness of the Commission to work together with the Kaduna State government and relevant stakeholders to implement a state-wide strategy of combating rape and other Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) which will be focused on social mobilisation and communication, enhanced reporting of rape and SGBV cases, effective investigations and prosecution based on the pre-existing legal regime.

Niger Soldiers Executed Dozens Of Civilians, Investigations Reveal

A map of Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River.
A map of Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River.


Soldiers in Niger executed dozens of civilians during the counterinsurgency campaign against jihadists in the country’s troubled Tillaberi region earlier this year, a probe into the deaths reported.

The West African nation has suffered years of conflict with Islamic militants operating in the vast and inhospitable Sahel desert, with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed to date.

The national armies of Niger and its neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso have been accused of war crimes in their response operations, including forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Niger’s National Commission on Human Rights was investigating reports by Amnesty International and other rights groups that 102 civilians had gone missing in the western province between March 27 and April 2 after an army operation.

“There have indeed been executions of unarmed civilians and the mission discovered at least 71 bodies in six mass graves,” said Abdoulaye Seydou, the president of the Pan-African Network for Peace, Democracy and Development, which participated in the probe, on Friday.

“It is elements of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) which are responsible for these summary and extrajudicial executions,” he added, saying those killed were attacked with bladed weapons and small arms.

But he said the investigation was unable to establish whether senior levels of the military hierarchy were responsible for the deaths.

Jihadist violence resulted in 4,000 deaths in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso last year, the United Nations has said.

The UN has condemned what it said was a spike in criminal acts by national armies in the Sahel at the beginning of this year, including more than 100 extrajudicial executions by the Malian army between January and March.

Amnesty International reported in June that the armies of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso had been responsible for nearly 200 disappearances in the space of a few months.



UN Experts Demand Beirut Explosion Probe

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.


UN human rights experts on Thursday demanded a swift, independent investigation into the catastrophic Beirut explosion, citing deep concern about irresponsibility and impunity in Lebanon.

The group also called for a relatively-rare special debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council this September.

UN experts do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it.

Lebanon’s president has rejected any international probe into the Beirut port blast, as demanded by protesters.

“We support calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and independent investigation based on human rights principles, to examine all claims, concerns and needs in relation to the explosion as well as the underlying human rights failures,” some 38 UN experts said in a joint statement.

The investigation should have a broad mandate to probe “any systemic failures of the Lebanese authorities and institutions to protect human rights”.

“We are deeply concerned about the level of irresponsibility and impunity surrounding human and environmental devastation on this scale,” they said.

The investigation should protect the confidentiality of victims and witnesses, and its findings should be made public, the experts said.


UK To Unveil Sanctions Against Human Rights Violators

Britain’s Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State Dominic Raab delivers a speech on the first day of the annual Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex in Manchester, north-west England on September 29, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFP.


Britain will on Monday name the first individuals to be sanctioned under a new regime targeting people who violate human rights, with Russians and Saudis reportedly on the list.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will set out the new sanctions powers in parliament and reveal a list of individuals who will immediately be subject to UK asset and visa bans.

“From today, the UK will have new powers to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the UK, channelling money through our banks and profiting from our economy,” Raab said in a statement.

“This is a clear example of how the UK will help to lead the world in standing up for human rights.

“We will not let those who seek to inflict pain and destroy the lives of innocent victims benefit from what the UK has to offer.”

The Foreign Office declined to say in advance who would be on the list.

But the Financial Times said it is expected to include people believed by Britain to be implicated in the deaths of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Magnitsky was arrested after detailing an alleged large-scale tax fraud by Russian officials. He died in jail in 2009.

Khashoggi was a Saudi insider-turned-critic who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Five people were sentenced to death for his killing in Saudi Arabia last year, but 20 more, including two former aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are currently on trial in Turkey.

The new sanctions regime, set up under a 2018 British law, will also target figures from North Korea but not China, the FT and the BBC reported.

The Foreign Office said: “Future targets of the regime may include those who commit unlawful killings perpetrated against journalists and media workers, or activity motivated on the grounds of religion or belief.”

Overall, the regime could apply to those who “facilitate, incite, promote, or support these violations/abuses, as well as those who financially profit from human rights violations and abuses”.


Cameroon’s President Biya Under Pressure Over Human Rights



Buffeted by security and political crises and embarrassed by military blunders, Cameroon’s government has been forced to give ground on human rights under intense pressure from campaigners and the UN and from allies who once chose to overlook its flaws.

NGOs have long denounced abuses in the central African country, from the detention of journalists and arrests of opponents to the killings of civilians by soldiers.

But after a massacre by security forces and the death of a detained journalist, the international outcry has been so loud that President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, has been forced to make U-turns.

Three soldiers were charged this month with murder over the February killing of 10 children and three women in western Cameroon. The UN says at least 23 civilians had died.

The military had denied the killings for two months, blaming the deaths on fuel containers that had accidentally exploded during a firefight between security forces and anglophone separatists.

The investigation and prosecution of the soldiers mark an unprecedented step by a regime deaf to such accusations for decades.

From now on, “it will be difficult for the regime to resist international pressure,” said Cameroonian political scientist Ambroise Louison Essomba.

The government “has every interest, for its own survival, to closely study this question of human rights”, said another analyst, Jacques Ebwea.

The pressure is mounting as Cameroon is battered by violence: in the north, where attacks by Boko Haram jihadists are on the rise, and in the west where a three-year separatist revolt rages on, rooted in resentment among the English-speaking minority in the francophone-majority country.

– Dismissed as fake –
Violence between anglophone separatists and security forces has claimed more than 3,000 lives and at least 700,000 have fled their homes.

Although rights monitors emphasise that abuses have been committed by both sides, the armed forces have become mired in a series of high-profile atrocities.

“The use of violence has become almost commonplace,” said Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, director of the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC).

Under pressure from NGOs, the United Nations, the United States and France — the country’s former colonial ruler and a close ally — Biya announced an investigation into the February killings, which found that the “uncontrolled” soldiers had tried to hide their crime and falsified their reports.

The United Nations welcomed the “positive step”, but demanded that “all those responsible” for the killing be brought to justice.

“There are more and more convictions, but unfortunately they are slow to produce the desired result, which is to establish a true rule of law,” said Ngo Mbe.

In another high-profile case, seven soldiers are on trial for the execution-style killing of two women and their babies in the Far North, a region abutting Nigeria where Boko Haram jihadists fighters have carried out brutal attacks on civilians.

The atrocity was filmed and shared on social media.

The government had initially dismissed the images as fake before — under international pressure — changing position and arresting the seven.

– Political crisis –
On top of those conflicts, Cameroon has been experiencing an unprecedented political crisis since Biya — who is 87 years old and has ruled Cameroon since 1982 — was re-elected in 2018.

His challenger and main opponent, Maurice Kamto, and hundreds of his supporters were arrested shortly after the elections.

They spent nine months in prison without trial before being released in October 2019, again after strong international mobilisation.

“The international community’s interventions inconvenience the regime… but very often only at first, and very little over the long term,” said Christophe Bobiokono, a member of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedom, a government institute.

Local and international NGOs announced in early June that anglophone journalist Samuel Wazizi, who had been arrested ten months earlier, had died in detention at the hands of the military after being tortured.

The army finally acknowledged the death but denied the allegations of torture, claiming that he had died of severe sepsis less than two weeks after he was arrested on a terrorism charge.

Wazizi’s family said they were never informed of his death.

NGOs immediately called for an independent investigation, and hours later the French ambassador announced to the press that Biya would launch a probe after the two had met to discuss the death.

The press watchdog RSF ranks Cameroon 134th out of 180 countries and territories in its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than the previous year.




Coronavirus: We Must Tolerate And Allow People To Vent Their Opinions – Keyamo



The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN), has asked that individuals be allowed to vent their opinions freely with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keyamo who lately has been taking on the COVID-19 issue via social media, the people must be allowed to vent their opinions because it is a sign of the times.

He also stated that the challenge that soon will  face governments around the world is how to keep their citizens safe from COVID-19 by imposing inactivity and at the same time how to keep them safe from poverty, hunger & depression as a result of the inactivity.

READ ALSO: Minister, Festus Keyamo Says God Allowed COVID-19 To Afflict Humans

Nigerian Lawyers Are Comfortable With Impunity, Human Rights Violations – Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigerian, Femi Falana, has challenged Nigerian lawyers to stand up to their responsibilities describing their actions and inactions as comfortable towards impunity and human rights violations.

Falana disclosed this on Wednesday in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

He also went down the memory lane saying the NBA has a history of protecting the rule of law but present-day NBA simply holds seminars and annual lectures.

“Nigerian lawyers are comfortable with impunity, abuse of the rule of law, and violations of human rights.

READ ALSO: Court Stops INEC From Conducting By-Election To Fill 14 Edo Assembly Seats

“We have a history of struggle in this country. Under the previous military regimes, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stood its ground in protecting and defending human rights. That is no longer the case.”

He stated further that in 1987 when the late Alao Aka-Bashorun was NBA president, no one or even dictator dared violate court orders but the reverse is the case in the present-day NBA.

“Today we are only interested in organising annual seminars, dinners and at the end of the day, the bar is not doing much.

“I am talking of when human rights were put in abeyance by military dictators. Our judges insisted that the rule of law must be fully complied with.

“So, nobody or regime was allowed to treat court orders with contempt or disdain,” the human right lawyer said.

Falana further lamented that it is only when rich people are oppressed that the NBA and even the media speak out loud.

“It is only when the rich are arrested, where we can make money, that we shout from the rooftop. So there is human rights violation in Nigeria.”

He further called for human rights enlightenment and education in Nigerian schools and called on the state government to introduce human rights courses in school curriculum.