This page summarizes cases raised with Nigeria by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2017 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from Nigeria.
Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.
Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).
Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of Nigeria, English).
The Special Rapporteur regrets that no reply has been received from the Government of Nigeria to the allegation letter sent during the reporting period. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, and urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerned he raised in his communication.
The Special Rapporteur underlines that the rights of peaceful assembly and of association are key for individuals espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs. He therefore urges States to refrain from adopting legislations that can hamper the legitimate work of civil society, notably of those espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs. He recommends to the Government to revise the Same-Gender Marriage” Bill to ensure it complies with international human rights law. He is available to provide any technical assistance the Government might require in this regard.
The Special Rapporteur would like to thank the Government of Nigeria for its detailed response on 29 August 2013 and takes due note of its content. He requests the authorities to respond to all the concerns raised in the joint allegation letters sent on 13 January 2014 and 13 June 2013 without further delay. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate.
The Special Rapporteur deeply regrets the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January 2014. He is concerned that this Act -which bans gay marriage and makes it an offence to register, operate, participate in or support gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings, or to make a public display of a same-sex amorous relationship, directly or indirectly- discriminate against the right to peacefully assemble and associate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights acceded by Nigeria on 29 July 1993, guarantees the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. In his thematic report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur stresses “that the Human Rights Committee has clarified that any limitations to rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, when permitted by the Covenant, may not be imposed for discriminatory purposes or applied in a discriminatory manner. Therefore, provisions restricting or prohibiting the right to freedom of association of a specific group on discriminatory grounds, such as sexual orientation or gender identity, is not permitted under the Covenant and must be reviewed with a view to repeal” (A/HRC/26/29, paragraph 64).
The Special Rapporteur calls upon the Government to put in place an enabling and safe environment allowing individuals to exercise their legitimate freedoms of peaceful assembly and association without undue hindrances. He reiterates the content of the operative paragraph 2 of the Human Rights Council Resolution 24/5 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”
The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of Nigeria of his country visit requests sent in October 2013. He regrets to not have received a response to date.In this connection, OP6 of resolution 15/21 states that the “Human Rights Council… [c]alls upon States to cooperate fully with and assist the Special Rapporteur in the performance of his or her tasks… and to consider favourably his or her requests for visits”.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur regrets that, to date, no reply has been received to his communication in relation to a proposed Bill to “Regulate the Acceptance and Utilization of Financial/Material Contribution of Donor agencies to Voluntary Organizations and for Matters Connected Therewith”. He recalls that responses to his communications are an important part of the cooperation of the Government of Nigeria with his mandate, and urges the authorities to comply with Human Rights Council resolutions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. These resolutions, including resolution 24/5 (2013), call on States to cooperate fully with and assist him in the performance of his mandate and to respond promptly to his communications.
Proposed Bill to regulate voluntary organizations
The Special Rapporteur reiterates his preoccupation that the prohibition of voluntary organizations to receive foreign funds without registration, under sections 2 and 3 of the proposed Bill, is not in compliance with the right to freedom of association, which denotes restrictions to the right only under very specific circumstances. He also expresses dismay at the inability of voluntary associations to appeal restrictive decisions that prevent them from receiving funds from international donors. In relation to provisions on the access to funds and requirements for such access, he notes that the Government of Nigeria should ensure that all associations “can seek, receive and use funding and other resources from natural and legal persons, whether domestic, foreign or international, without prior authorization or other undue impediments, including from individuals; associations, foundations or other civil society organizations; foreign Governments and aid agencies; the private sector; the United Nations and other entities” (A/HRC/23/39, para. 82(b)).
Concerning the clause stipulating that all voluntary organizations can receive foreign funds only if they agree to receive such contribution through State channels, he is of the opinion that this may result in discretionary and arbitrary enforcement. This, along with the requirement to report on all funds received from foreign sources and how these are allocated or used, as well the requirement to obtain authorization from the authorities to receive or use funds, constitute human rights violations (A/HRC/23/39, paragraph 36). He further clarifies, particularly in reference to the inspection requirements, that the right of independent bodies to examine the associations’ records with the goal of ensuring transparency and accountability should be in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination and the right to privacy. The right should not be exercised arbitrarily since it would otherwise place the independence of associations and the safety of their members at risk (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 65).
While noting that the aforementioned proposed Bill provides for criminal sanctions against individuals contravening its provisions, including section 11, he cautions against measures that aim to deter people from exercising their fundamental right to freedom of association. He specifies that the possibility of disproportionate sentences can have a dissuasive effect on people wishing to exercise this right (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 62). The Special Rapporteur is also preoccupied by the vague and imprecise definition of “Voluntary Organizations” in section 14 of the proposed Bill, which makes it difficult to foresee all the types of organizations which the Bill may cover.
The Special Rapporteur further requests full details of the proposed Bill, including the legal status, and an explanation of how its provisions are in accordance with Nigeria’s obligations under international human rights law and standards, particularly with regard to the right to freedom of association. He stands ready to provide technical assistance to ensure that the State’s normative framework complies with international human rights norms and standards governing freedoms of association and assembly, in accordance with the mandate attributed to him by the Human Rights Council.
The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of his willingness to undertake a country visit to Nigeria, as indicated by his October 2013 letter to the Government. He trusts that such a visit would allow him to examine issues relating to his mandate, identify good practices and formulate pertinent recommendations to relevant stakeholders. He looks forward to receiving a positive reply at the earliest possible opportunity and reiterates that Human Rights Council resolution 24/5 urges the States to consider favourably his requests for visits.
For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links: