The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Nigeria

By Vexen Crabtree 2019

#equality #freedom #human_rights #nigeria #politics #tolerance

Nigeria
Federal Republic of Nigeria

[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index161st best
CapitalAbuja
Land Area 910 770km21
LocationAfrica
Population195.9m2
Life Expectancy53.06yrs (2017)3
GNI$5 443 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesNG, NGA, 5665
Internet Domain.ng6
CurrencyNaira (NGN)7
Telephone+2348

Nigeria is generally poor at ensuring human rights and freedom compared to the rest of the world. Nigeria does worse than average when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports9 (still high for Africa), supporting press freedom10 and in LGBT equality11. And finally, it falls into the worst-performing 20 in supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms12. Homosexuality is illegal and the LGBT community is explicitly discriminated against in law, effectively authorising abuse and persecution13. In addition, in "the Sharia penal code adopted by 12 northern Nigerian states [stipulates] death by stoning [for men], and whipping and/or imprisonment for women"13, and is fundamentally opposed to other human rights, especially freedom of belief and gender equality14.


1. Nigeria's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)15,16
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank15,16
1Denmark9.7
2Sweden10.0
3Norway16.1
...
117Monaco101.5
118Ivory Coast101.8
119Botswana101.9
120Nigeria103.0
121S. Sudan103.2
122St Vincent & Grenadines103.8
123Benin103.8
124Mozambique103.9
125Gabon104.0
World Avg89.8
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Denmark, Sweden and Norway15. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and Palestine15.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice and LGBT equality. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe15, whereas the worst are Micronesia, Melanesia and Australasia15.

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

The ongoing Boko Haram conflict in the northeast, cycles of communal violence between pastoralists and farmers, and separatist protests in the south defined Nigeria´s human rights landscape in 2017. [...]

Nigeria´s eight-year conflict with Boko Haram has resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 civilians and a large-scale humanitarian crisis. [...] While the Nigerian army made considerable gains against Boko Haram, the toll of the conflict on civilians continued as the extremist group increasingly resorted to the use of women and children as suicide bombers.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

Twelve northern provinces of Nigeria formalize the use of Islamic Sharia Law, which is fundamentally opposed to human rights, especially freedom of belief, gender equality and LGBT tolerance.17

2.1. Human Rights Watch Comments

#human_rights

Human Rights Watch Comments (2017)9
Pos.Higher is better
Score9
1UK9
2France9
3Germany9
...
68Bolivia-3
69Kenya-4
70Philippines-4
71Nigeria-4
72Vietnam-4
73Morocco-4
74Thailand-4
75Angola-4
World Avg-1.9
q=123.

Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.

2.2. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)18
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties18
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
...
93Yemen16
94Congo, DR16
95Burundi16
96Nigeria16
97Benin16
98Gabon16
99San Marino16
100Cambodia16
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.3. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty19
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
...
84Turkey9.48
85Malta9.60
86Luxembourg9.67
87Nigeria9.71
88Vietnam9.72
89Nepal9.76
90S. Korea9.89
91Niger9.89
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

2.4. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)12
Pos.Lower is better
Rank12
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
...
137Bangladesh137
138Belize138
139Congo, (Brazzaville)139
140Nigeria140
141China141
142Ethiopia142
143Mauritania143
144Egypt144
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)20

2.5. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)10
Pos.Lower is better10
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
...
111Montenegro3297
112Israel3297
113UAE3349
114Nigeria3411
115Macedonia3427
116Venezuela3444
117Nepal3461
118Ecuador3469
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

"Nigerian press, bolstered by strong civil society, remains largely free. Journalists,however, face harassment, and the implementation of a 2015 Cyber Crime Act threatens to curtail freedom of expression"13.

2.6. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)21
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
...
136Timor-Leste (E. Timor)0.77
137Philippines0.77
138Libya0.77
139Nigeria0.77
140Guinea0.78
141Greece0.79
142Congo, (Brazzaville)0.80
143Macedonia0.87
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi21, Eritrea21, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including Nigeria and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting.

See:

3.1. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
...
116Laos1958
117Hungary1958
118Chad1958
119Nigeria1958
120Burkina Faso1958
121Guinea1958
122Madagascar1959
123Tunisia1959
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)31
Pos.Lower is better
%31
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
...
17Finland15
18Brazil16
19Singapore16
20Nigeria16
21Iceland16
22Uganda16
23Jamaica18
24India20
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews32,33,34,35. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East36, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews37,38. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"39. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males40.

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

The passage of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act (SSMPA) in January 2014 effectively authorized abuses against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in 2017. The law has undermined freedom of expression for members of the LGBT community, human rights organizations, and others. In July, authorities arrested over 40 men attending an HIV awareness event at a hotel in Lagos and accused them of performing same-sex acts, a crime that carries up to 14 years in jail. In April, 53 men were arrested for celebrating a gay wedding, and charged with “belonging to a gang of unlawful society.”

In addition to the SSMPA, under the Nigeria Criminal Code Act of 1990, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. The Sharia penal code adopted by several northern Nigerian states prohibits and punishes sexual relations between persons of the same sex, with the maximum penalty for men being death by stoning, and whipping and/or imprisonment for women.

"World Report 2018" by Human Rights Watch (2018)13

LGBT Equality (2017)11
Pos.Higher is better
Score11
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
...
158Liberia-20
159Bhutan-20
160Burundi-20
161Nigeria-22
162Malawi-22
163Uganda-22
164Oman-22
165Yemen-22
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence41. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws42. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries41. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

5. Freedom of Belief and Religion

#christianity #islam #nigeria

Twelve northern provinces of Nigeria formalize the use of Islamic Sharia Law, which is fundamentally opposed to human rights, especially freedom of belief, gender equality and LGBT tolerance.17. Polling shows that "sizable percentages" of Christian and Muslim adherents both consider that "their own religious freedom is more important than religious freedom for others. Neither group trusts people from other religions"43.

The 1999 constitution also laid the groundwork for the northern states to expand the role of Sharia law from civil to criminal matters (see box) by permitting states to address areas not prohibited in the constitution, so long as the rulings didn't violate rights promised in the constitution. But as the domain of Sharia law expanded, the contradictions between constitutional assurances and local practices have been many. [...]

Accommodating the dominant religions and allowing them to restrict religious freedoms did not result in more security and less violence, but in reduced security and more violent religious persecution.

"The Price of Freedom Denied" by Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke (2011)44

The International Humanist and Ethical Union produced a report in 2012 entitled "Freedom of Thought" (2012)45, in which they document bias and prejudice at the national level that is based on religion, belief and/or lack of belief. Their entry for Nigeria states:

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief. The constitution mandates that local, state and federal government "shall not adopt any religion as State Religion." However, some state governments have a record of abusing freedom of religion or belief. There is significant hostility and violence between religious communities, especially Christians and Muslims, in many parts of the country. Some outbreaks of communal violence have resulted in hundreds of deaths. Yet, a climate of impunity exists, as authorities rarely prosecute and punish those responsible for violent attacks.

The constitution provides that states may establish courts based on the common law or customary law systems. Twelve northern states - Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa, Yobe, Bauchi, Borno, Zamfara, and Gombe - maintained Sharia courts, which adjudicated both criminal and civil matters, along with common law and customary law courts. Non-Muslims had the option to try their cases in the Sharia courts if involved in disputes with Muslims. If non-Muslims did not agree to go to Sharia courts, common law courts would hear their cases. Although the constitution does not explicitly allow Sharia courts to hear criminal cases, they have done so in the past. In Zamfara State, the first state to adopt Sharia, a Sharia court must hear all criminal cases involving Muslims. No laws barred women or any groups from testifying in common law courts or gave less weight to their testimony; however, Sharia courts usually accorded less weight to the testimony of women and non-Muslims.

Both federal and state governments regulate mandatory religious instruction in public schools; however, the constitution mandates that students do not receive religious instruction in any religion other than their own. In theory students can request a teacher of their own beliefs to provide alternative instruction, but in practice many schools lack teachers capable of doing so.

Although the jurisdiction of Sharia technically does not apply to non-Muslims in civil and criminal proceedings, certain social mores inspired by Sharia, such as the separation of the sexes, affected non-Muslim minorities in the north. Many non-Muslims perceive that they lived under the rule of a Muslim government and often feared reprisals for their religious affiliation. The Hisbah - Sharia enforcement groups funded by state governments in Bauchi, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, and Kano - enforce, sometimes violently, some Sharia statutes.

"Freedom of Thought" by IHEU (2012)45