Updated: NHRC kicks off activities to mark 2023 National Human Rights Day

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By Raphael Ekpang
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has kicked start activities to mark 2023  National Human Rights Day.
Addressing a World press conference on Friday in Abuja,  the Executive Secretary of the commission Dr. Tony Ojukwu (SAN) said, the events and programs for this year International Human Rights Day are designed not just for observance but for active participation, engagement and dialogue among all stakeholders.
He said, the week long activities lined up for the commemoration include courtesy visits to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Town Hall discussions, film festivals, correctional centre audit and police station visit.
Ojukwu noted that, though the event has kicked started with the press conference, but other events will commence on Monday, December 4, 2023.
According to him, “It is my pleasure to share details of the upcoming celebration that embodies the essence of humanity, and our commitment to the promotion, protection and enforcement of the fundamental rights of every individual living in this country.

“This year, our agenda is expansive, diverse, and comprehensive. It reflects our collective dedication to promoting, protecting, and advancing human rights across Nigeria. The scheduled events and programs are designed not just for observance but for active participation, engagement, and dialogue among all stakeholders—be it Government bodies, Civil Society Organisation, or the general public,” he said.

Ojukwu explained that the weeklong event would be a multifaceted approach to addressing, advocating, and celebrating human rights.

The NHEC will join other institutions to mark the 16 Days of Activism on Gender Based Violence. In all our 36 state offices and the FCT, the NHRC will embark on advocacy and public sensitisations with government, civil society, traditional and religious authorities and the media to call attention and action on stemming the tide on sexual and gender-based violence.

“NHRC Governing Council will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday, 4th and 5th of December 2023. The Council meetings are pivotal in the discharge of the mandate of the Commission, both as administrative and Extral-Judical mechanism.

“We would be having a Town Hall on the future of litigating human rights in Nigeria. This is one of the pivotal highlights of the UDHR celebration, the Town Hall is aimed not only to sensitize but also to foster partnerships with key stakeholders the event will delve into the complex landscape of human rights litigation in Nigeria, examining the current situation, the persistent challenges, and the future trajectory of this critical endeavour.

“This event will act as a unifying call, recognizing the past and welcoming a future where justice, accountability, and human rights firmly underpin Nigeria’s legal framework. Additionally, it will serve as a platform for key stakeholders to collectively determine a course of action.

“This year’s Human Rights Day is also a commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. To mark this momentous occasion, NHRC will be unveiling a commemorative board whose illumination of the 30 articles of the Deceleration will continue to be a solemn reminder of the role of human rights in preserving our collective humanity,” he said.

 The NHRC’s scribe added that a major part of the mandate of NHRC is the visitation to Correctional and detention facilities in Nigeria to determine their compliance with national and international human rights standards. This event will be taking place across the 36 states and the FCT and will also serve as a sensitisation of the inmates and detainees of their rights under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Also in the program there will be human rights quiz competition for secondary schools in the FCT which serves as a platform for students to engage in discussion of crucial issues of human rights concerns, fostering awareness and understanding of human rights principles from childhood.

The NHRC will be hosting a Film Festival in partnership with the United Nations and the Embassy of Brazil in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration. The film festival will place a spotlight on a wide range of human rights issues, enshrined in the Universal Declaration that are in need of concrete and urgent action from States and other duty bearers. The event which will run for four days beginning from 5th December will take place at the Embassy of Brazil. The exhibition will advocate and promote the observance of human rights through films. It will inspire debates and open dialogue about human rights, as well as empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference in the promotion of human rights.

On Wednesday they shall be a high-level forum on business and human rights.  Following Nigeria’s adoption of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP-BHR), there is an urgent need to operationalize the policy document as well as establish the institutional environment needed for the implementation of Busine and human rights regime in Nigeria.

The High-Level Forum on Business and Human Rights therefore aims to bring together key stakeholders to mark the inauguration of the National Working Group on Business and Human Rights (NWG-BHR), the official launch of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights, and to emphasize the essential role of businesses in advancing human rights in Nigeria. The forum will provide a platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among government officials, business leaders, civil society organizations, and other relevant stakeholders.

On Thursday NHRC will provides Civil society organisations a platform to engage, discuss several issues and advocate for human rights. No efforts should be spared in galvanising and providing platforms for civil society leaders and organisations to dialogue with other stakeholder on present and emerging issues impacting on the enjoyment of human rights, in the same vein, importance should be attached to the work of human rights organisations in Nigeria. In furtherance to its mandate, the National Human Rights Commission has initiated an annual Civil Society Forum on Human Rights which serves as a platform to discuss the state of human rights and civil society environment in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the 2023 Civil Society Forum on Human Rights is the second edition of the forum, the one-day Forum shall encompass the following critical forum on Civic Space and Human Rights,Forum on Child Protection and forum on social and and Economic Rights in an Age of Economic Reforms

Legislative Forum on Human Rights: This is proposed for discussing the role of Human Rights Committees in advancing human rights. The situation in Nigeria regarding human rights is complex, despite the country’s commitment to international treaties and its efforts in enacting laws to protect human rights. Nigeria faces significant challenges including poverty, inequality, discrimination, insecurity, and weak law enforcement leading to illegal arrests, prolonged detentions, and extrajudicial killings.

The Forum which will be attended by leaders in the National and State legislatures, senior policy makers, the judiciary, human rights and legal professionals, civil society organizations, international development partners and other stakeholders, will provide a vital platform for them to engage in meaningful discussions, increase awareness, and strengthen commitment to human rights principles within legislative bodies.

Civil-Military Forum on Human Rights: The Civil-Military Forum is designed to achieve a mutual understanding and appreciation of Nigeria’s constitutional and international human rights obligations by both the military and other selected stakeholders in Nigeria. It is crucial dialogue which will ensure the most effective way to mainstream human rights into military operations. It will also encourage cooperation and mutual engagement between the Nigerian military and the National Human Rights Commission, with a view to facilitating speedy investigations and resolution of allegations of human rights violations not only involving military during internal security operations, but also relating to improving the military justice system.

The culminating events on Saturday, December 9,  will include a Human Rights Awareness Walk, various statements on the IHRD, and the final day of the Human Rights Film Festival—a testament to the week-long commitment and the momentum we have built in advocating for human dignity

And a human rights fiesta which will be a festival of music to recognise the work of human rights defenders and a platform to socialise and  build networks.

The week will climax on Sunday, December 10th, with a Human Rights Dinner and Award, an occasion to recognize and honour the relentless efforts of individuals and the media in championing human rights causes. Each event has been meticulously designed to engage various stakeholders, promote awareness, and advance our collective understanding and commitment to human rights.

“In closing, this series of events is the Commission’s way for a call to action on human rights concerns. It is an invitation for every Nigerian to engage, participate, and uphold the principles of equality, dignity, and justice for all. Together, let us make this commemoration a testament to our collective commitment to human rights,” he concluded.

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