Event Reports

State of Human Rights Practice and Enforcement in FCT

by Hildegard Behrendt-Kigozi

The Need for Collaboration among Stakeholders

Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung Nigeria collaborates with the recently inaugurated Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to organize a workshop on ways to ensure better Human Rights practice and enforcement in the FCT.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is a non-profit organization of all Lawyers engaged in the Nigerian Court. Its aim is to promote Human Rights, the rule of Law as well as Good Governance. The NBA Human Rights Committee whose task it is to implement the Human Rights policies and programs of the NBA together with the KAS hosts a workshop on ‘The State of Human Rights Practice and Enforcement in FCT: The Need for Collaboration among Stakeholders’. The Workshop was set for 10am on the 25th July, 2013 at the Ceremonial High Court, FCT High Court, Maitama Abuja. Some of the main aspects the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung focuses on are the promotion of Democracy and the Rule of Law so they support the NBA Human Rights Committee in their aim to promote and support Human Rights and prevent their violations not only in FCT but in the whole of Nigeria.

The issue of the Human Rights in Nigeria is not to be neglected; rights of Nigerian citizens get violated on a daily basis either through other citizens or even through public authorities. Facing the challenge of enforcing Human Rights is the goal and an important aim for many political actors.

As early as 9 am the first participants started arriving, among them the lead speaker Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Chairman National Human Rights Commission and informal discussion took place.

The opening address was presented by the Chairman NBA Human Rights Committee Mrs. Ozioma Izuora. She welcomed and appreciated everyone present at the event and expressed gratitude to the sponsor of the event, Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, as well as the lead speaker Prof. Odinkalu, all disscussants and the representatives of the stakeholders in Human Rights issues. In her speech she emphasized that the workshop should aim at making the society free of Human Rights abuses and focus should be on the provision of Human Rights in the constitution.

Mrs. Hildegard Behrendt-Kigozi started by expressing her happiness at the opportunity to cooperate with the Nigerian Bar Association and gave brief insight into the activities of KAS in Nigeria which aim at promoting freedom and democracy, peace and justice through the rule of law. Given the level of Human Rights abuses in the society KAS has chosen to assist to boost ethics and morality which is critical in achieving a free, just and prospering society.

Following the introduction speeches and greetings, Prof. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu spoke to his paper which is titled “Expanding the Frontiers of Human Rights: The Role of the Lawyer”. Besides the huge role the judicial branch plays in promoting Human Rights he also pointed out the importance of increasing public awareness for the topic. In his opinion the focus in discussing Human Rights lies on the concepts of Dignity, Safety, Security, Equality, Integrity, Legality and Impunity. The fact that the mechanisms of administrative, judicial and political accountability are weak or unaccountable creates a fertile ground for the abuse of Human Rights. This furthermore leads to the fact that the jurisdiction and judicial system lost credibility because they are permeated by corruption which also causes a loss of legitimacy of the institutions and actors.

After the speech of Prof. Chidi Odinkalu the discussants further examined certain aspects of the topic and added own opinions and points of view to the discussion. Special focus was laid on Disability Rights, Gender Discrimination and the fact that the judiciary should play its role in speeding up criminal trials.

The participants discussed with the panel speakers, asked questions and made recommendations. Everybody showed great interest in the topics discussed and was deeply committed to improving the state of Human Rights Practice.