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Who defends the Rights of Human Rights Defender?


Bukola Afeni

Jane Orji( not real name) is an activist that was among those that organized the Endsars protest in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, she had to relocate outside the shores of the country after the protest, due to series of threats over her life by the security agent in the country.

Jane is a human rights activist and  also a Human Rights Defender.
In developing society, like Nigeria, who fights for the rights of the Human Rights Defender? They pass through different demeaning and life threatening situations, while trying to fight for the rights of others.

This critical conversation about the plight of the Human Rights Defender, were the submission and many more, at the review  of five months research report, by  Women led integrated protection services against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria.

The Country Director of Action Aid Nigeria,
Ene Obi, while speaking at the event, urged the human rights defender to be accountable while engaging in their daily activities.

She said there is need for the human rights defender to show exemplary life of leadership which will endear other Nigerians to be of good character.

Ene Obi added that the report will be critical in bringing about quality changes to the way and manner policies are being implemented in the country.

“The report highlights the need for human rights defender to have a protection mechanism to fall back on while engaging in their daily activities.
It showcase that they also face violation on a daily basis, and are usually harassed in the course of activism. We need to support them and shield them away from negative consequences while performing their roles in the society”.

The Project manager, Nkechi Ilochi-Omekedo, noted that the research was
meant to provide provide useful recommendations to human right defenders as they engage in their daily activities.

She also added that the research will be essential in formulation of policy brief and aid policy makers in the course of their work.
” The research highlights how human rights defenders can also be protected from all forms of intimidation and harm.
The research was done during the EndSars protest, some part of the research featured what happened during the protest.
The duration of the project was five months, and the researchers actually put in their best during the short period”.

” The research work had a national outlook as it was done in different regions of the country.
We had robust engagement with different stakeholders, and also with the human rights defender. We also interacted with Lecturers from different Tertiary institutions, the National Human Rights Commission, Civil societies and different state actors.
The report captures data on human rights defenders and will surely aid in the implementation of issues on gender”.

In addition, the Project Coordinator, Vanessa Edhebru, explained that the research work is meant to highlight the challenges that Human rights defender face in the course of their work.
” We know that apart from financial challenges, they go through a lot of difficulties.
We want to see through their experience and proffer meaningful solution by improving their plight in the society.
The project goes beyond offering protection services, but rather unravelling the mysteries behind Gender based violence in the country. We want to provide support services for survivors, so that they can live better life”.

She said the research work highlights how COVID-19 pandemic affected Human Rights Defender and their work, and the challenges they face per region.

” This is one of the deliverables of the women led integrated project. It reflected on how youths were mobilized during the Endsars protest in October. Women human rights defender were hurt during the protest , and some had to go on asylum outside the shores of the country.
We believe the research work will build a strategic plan for people to operate with while engaging in their work “.

The findings and recommendations from the research will be useful for lawmakers, protect human rights defenders, and aid in reduction of gender based violence in Nigeria.





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