Saturday, January 21, 2006

The power of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Let's get our stuff together here.

Fact: No one has yet to see the details of the proposed Bill banning 1) same-sex marriage, 2) relationships or 3) activism. However, we do know from the papers that all three are to proscribed. I also know from feedback that many many people are simply stunned about the news (as I was). Some gist even has it that it is an anti Atiku/IBB thing (no need to spell that one out I take it). I'm not so interested in that kind of gossip. Its better to think about acting rather than emoting at times like these.

Now, I am right in thinking that Nigeria has signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human rights abi? Can someone tell me where this is stated? (I cant find a list of signatories, but I'm lazy and I've only spent a few minutes looking).

Anyway, let's take a look at these rights. Click here to read at your leisure.

Now I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the proposed Bill (assuming it does point substantively against the three points above) is immediately in contravention of:

Article 2:
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

Article 6:
"Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law."

Article 7:
"All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."

Article 12:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. "

Article 19:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Article 20:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
No one may be compelled to belong to an association."

That's not bad: in direct contravention of 6 articles of the UDHR. Just in case one might worry that the Universal Declaration is "UnAfrican" in some way, peruse the African Charter on Human and People's Rights (adopted by the OAU in 1981). There are a similar number of direct contraventions the proposed law would have.

When the Bill is published, it would be well if legal experts can provide a much richer analysis than my simpleton effort above. Then, the moment the first application of the Law is attempted, there is a global effort (from international NGOs, Nigerian pressure groups, UN bodies, donors, concerned citizens here and abroad) - in short a whole lot of noise - to stop the case going through. Just as the stoning of the Northern women were stopped, this Bill can be challenged, if there is enough global and internal pressure.

What say you all?


Anonymous,  4:50 am shows the differnet Human Rights Conventions and which countries sign what and when... Nigeria has not signed all of them.

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