June 8, 2017

UN apologises to Nigeria over human rights issues

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al-Hussein has apologised to the Federal Government for describing Nigeria as being an “uncooperative” member and blocking multiple UN expert visits to human rights hot spots.

Al-Hussein’s apology is contained in a letter to Amb. Audu Kadiri, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN Office and Other International Organisations (UNOG), in Geneva.

“In my oral update to the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 6, I had stated in error that Nigeria had only accepted one visit of special procedures in 2016 and the last previous visit was in 2017.

“Nigeria has received several special procedure mandate holders in past years.

“I deeply regret this unfortunate mistake and I trust that you will accept and convey to your government my sincere apology,” the letter read in part.

Responding, Amb. Kadiri acknowledged receiving the letter with Reference number HC/17/36REV. 1.

“Ì acknowledge receipt of the letter conveying your apology,” Kadiri said.

Earlier, the Federal Government had expressed “deep displeasure” over remarks by Al-Hussein.

Foreign Affairs Ministry, Permanent Secretary Sola Enikanolaiye, registered Nigeria’s displeasure at the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a statement, Enikanolaiye said: “Nigeria has has always cooperated with international experts and committed to discharge its human rights obligations.

“This amounts to gross misrepresentation capable of eroding the confidence and credibility of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the eyes of Nigerians,” he said

Enikanolaye, who led Nigerian delegation to the conference, said that the attention of the UN would be drawn to the impeccable record of Nigeria in the sphere of human rights protection and scrutiny by the UN.

“The delegation will state at the allotted time that Nigeria has continued to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the various human rights mechanisms.

“In January 2016, Nigeria received four Human Rights Mandate holders, namely the Special Rapporteur on sales of children, child prostitution and pornography.

“Nigeria also received Maud de Boer-Buquicchio; Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Ms Urmilla Boola, and the Special Rapporteur on Right to Mental and Physical Health, Mr Dainus Puras.

“Nigeria similarly received the Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons, Prof. Chaloka Beyani, from Aug. 23 to Aug. 26, 2016,” he said.

He said that Nigeria had a known disposition to cooperating with such bodies.

According to him, delegation has expressed the country’s preparedness to receive the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, in November this year.

He said that the delegation was however vindicated by the acknowledgement of this misrepresentation by the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, as conveyed in the Revised Version of his report.

“Nigeria is ever ready and committed to scaling up its human rights obligations by applying globally acknowledged best practices,” he said.

Al-Hueesin called out members such as Venezuela, Egypt, Nigeria and the Philippines for blocking multiple UN expert visits to these human rights hot spots.

“Most astonishingly, in spite of having been elected to this council in 2015, Burundi continues to commit some of the most serious human rights violations dealt with by this council,” he said