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NHRC urges NASS to put bills to “human rights impact assessment test”

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday urged the National Assembly to put bills to what he called “human rights impact test” before they are passed.


The Executive secretary, NHRC, Mr Tony Okechukwu, who made the call when a coalition of Civil Society Organisations visited him in Abuja, said this is with a view to enhance the rights of Nigerian citizens.

He said that one way to ensure that the rights of Nigerians are protected was to ensure that laws, policies and guidelines had the qualities to enhance human rights.

According to him, there is what we call assessment of human rights impact of any legislation and this means that any legislation in the parliament that is worth being passed into law should improve the human rights of people.

“We stand on the path that for any law to be passed into law in Nigeria, it must pass through human rights compatibility test which will show that the law when passed will scale up the enjoyment of human rights,’’ Ojukwu said.

He said that NHRC would intensify its participation in public hearings conducted by the National Assembly with a view to providing advice on why any law that does not meet the standard on human right impact assessment should not be passed.

Earlier, the Leader of the group, Mr Samson Itodo, requested the commission to review and advise the national assembly against passing the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill (Social Media Bill).

Others are the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill (Hate Speech Bill) and the Civil Society Regulatory Commission Bill (NGO Bill).

Itodo said that the Social Media Bill was not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society as it would prevent person from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

According to him, even though the government’s purpose may be legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle fundamental personal liberties.

“We strongly believe that the Bill contravenes extant constitutional provisions that guarantee right to freedom of expression.

“Restrictions that undermine the ability to receive and exchange information undermine the fundamental human rights provided in the constitution,’’ he added.

Itodo further said that the NGO Bill was inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution.

He said “the Bill falls significantly short of international human rights norms governing the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly as provided in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution

“Section four of the Hate Speech Bill also prohibits abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour, which is open to very wide interpretation.

“The nebulous and vague nature of its provisions and unfettered discretion afforded government agencies pose significant danger to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression and the rule of law in general.

‘`These provisions would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue, and political commentary,’’ Itodo said.

Similarly, Bukky Shonibare, Founder Girl Child Africa, a CSO, said that the purpose of the meeting was to express their fears that the bills would scale down human rights if allowed to pass.

She, however, urged the commission to issue an advisory to the executive and legislature (National Assembly) on the inconsistencies of the legislations with constitutionally guaranteed human rights and international human rights norms to which Nigeria is a state party.

Shonibare also tasked NHRC to publish a report on the state of human rights promotion and protection in Nigeria.

The CSOs that attended the meeting are Amnesty International, Nigeria, Centre Information Technology and Development and Girl Child Africa.

Others are Enough is Enough, Say No Campaign Nigeria, Spaces for Change and Yiaga Africa. 

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza

 

 

 

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Ikenna Uwadileke: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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