From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, pledged to engage robustly with the global community in the area of human rights advancement.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, made the pledge on behalf of the Federal Government while speaking during a high-level segment of the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council which took place in Geneva, Switzerland.
Onyeama stated that Nigeria believed that the promotion and protection of human rights were important elements in achieving sustainable global peace and security, as well as the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Onyeama emphasised that Nigeria was committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“I would also like to seize this opportunity to congratulate the newly-elected members of the Human Rights Council, and to pledge our readiness for a robust engagement in the advancement of human rights across the world,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama however tasked the Human Rights Council on the need to avoid politicising human rights issues.
The minister also said double standards must be eschewed in the international human rights system, adding that it has, undoubtedly, been counter-productive to the global human rights agenda.
“…I wish to unequivocally underscore the importance of avoiding politicisation of human rights issues. Double standards must also be eschewed in the international human rights system. It has, undoubtedly, been counter-productive to the global human rights agenda. It is Nigeria’s firm conviction that sincere international cooperation and respect for the sovereign equality of nations, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, as well as commitment to multilateralism, would immensely contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights across the globe,” Onyeama also said.
Earlier, Onyeama said the reform of the security system was one of the key priorities of the Government of Nigeria.
He also said in view of the need to ensure peace and security of Nigerians and guaranteed enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the nation’s security forces devised necessary measures and strategies, with a view to addressing its security challenges, occasioned by the scourge of terrorism, insurgency, banditry and other acts of criminality.
Onyeama further said in furtherance of its sincere commitment to the advancement of human rights, it was on record that the Federal Government responded swiftly to the October 2020 protest against police excesses, in particular, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The Government, without hesitation, accepted the five demands of the protesters, which included the disbandment of the SARS Police Unit and the formation of Investigation Panels across the States of the federation, to ensure justice and restitution for all victims of police excesses,” Onyeama added.
Onyeama further told the Human Rights Council that as a matter of necessity, it must continue to discourage populist political narratives, the spread of fake news, hate speech, incitement to hatred and violence, with a view to ensuring peace and harmony in societies.
“Nigeria, as always, strongly condemns all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and reaffirms its commitment to the effective implementation of the DDPA,” Onyeama stated.