Human rights in Nigeria are protected according to the latest version of the constitution. Over the years, Nigeria has made great improvements in terms of regulating and maintaining human rights. Even the American Human Rights Report noticed that since 2012, the country began the path to the significant development of human rights. Still, what are the main issues with limitations of human rights in Nigeria?
History of Fundamental Human Rights in Nigeria
The period between independence and up to 1998 was quite hard in terms of regulations of human rights in Nigeria. In 1979, the human rights started to appear in the presidential speeches to assure their proper installment into the constitution. Nevertheless, the human rights were in constant violation during these time.
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The changes started to happen in 1985 when Ibrahim Babangida took power. Nevertheless, these changes had negative and positive sides. Nigeria tried to ratify international human rights into the constitution for a long time.
The main problem for the development of the human rights meaning on the legislative level in Nigeria is the dualistic system. This system can't confirm international treaties if they are not approved by the legislative houses of Nigeria.
It`s true that the Nigerian Constitution protects political and civil rights, but international treaties may also take into the consideration social, socio-economical, religion, cultural and group rights.
Freedom of Expression
One of the main problems in terms of examples of human rights in Nigeria is the freedom of speech. In 1985, General Babangida repealed the law where any critical material in the address of the government was considered as the criminal behavior.
For some time, the political tolerance appeared in the media. Nevertheless, it fired back when Babangida regime started to get criticism. That`s how the regime closed more newspapers and banned more articles than in the whole previous history of Nigeria.
In the 1990s, the situation was changed a little bit. Nevertheless, the situation with so-called chats between the State Security Service and journalists occurred quite often. Moreover, there were continuous shut downs of various newspapers, like The Punch, Lagos Daily News, The Republic.
Even today, journalists have to be very attentive in terms of criticism towards political figures or government. The Freedom House report of 2011 described the country as “partly free.” It means that there is still a place for improvement.
The main violator of any human rights in Nigeria is terrorism. Boko Haram is considered to be the main violator of any human rights. The main idea of this organization is connected with Jihad. It`s their primary reason for the violate actions against Christians and even fellow Muslims.
In 2009, they committed the first major attack against civilians, where they killed 37 Christians and burned 29 churches. In 2014, Boko Haram got the international attention after kidnapping 230 female students from a secondary school in 2014. There is still not much information about the fate of most of the kids.
In 2015, Boko Haram militants burned and raised the towns of Doron-Baga and Baga. They reportedly killed around 150 people. Boko Haram is still raging over the north regions of Nigeria, where they destroy villages and kill people.
Child Labor and Marriage
Another serious problem for Nigeria is Child labor. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, almost every third kid in Nigeria from age 5 to 14 is engaged in some kind of forced activity. Child labor has been observed in agricultural areas of the country. They mainly participate in the production of sand, cocoa, and cassava. Moreover, children were noticed in the mining industry activities, like in granite, quarry and crush mines.
A lot of small farms in Nigeria is dependent on children labor. Therefore, a lot of children are found on the family fields instead of attending schools. Children usually work more than twenty hours a week. It`s considered to be the point where child`s education is considerably affected.
Early marriage is also a problem for some parts of Nigeria. The main idea still gets some attention in the Northern parts of Nigeria. It`s usually connected with the belief that early marriage prevents promiscuity. A lot of girls can be married by the time when they are 15, and some girls get their husband when they are just 9. Girls are extremely vulnerable to the domestic violence and rarely know their rights.
The human rights also include the freedom of relations. Therefore, in this terms, Nigeria is far from the accepting the rights of LGBT. The most obvious reason is the Same-Seх Marriage Bill which prohibits everything connected with the affection of men to men or women to women. This kind of affection is considered to be criminal activity and punished by fourteen years in prison.
Moreover, the bill criminalizes any association with LGBT. Therefore, West human rights activists state that this kind of Bill may bring a lot of problems for human rights in the country.
Therefore, Nigeria is far from being ideal country in terms of human rights. Nevertheless, the great improvement in the direction of development of these rights has been made throughout all sectors of life in Nigeria. It provides hope for the citizens of our country. Still, it can be a long path to the total guarantee of human rights.
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