Hands over ‘Human Rights Due Diligence Document’ to NHRC
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As human rights abuses continue to soar across the country from both public and private organizations, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Tuesday, demanded government action on protecting Nigerians against human rights abuses from companies operating in different parts of the country.
The demand was made by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa, in the address of welcome during the ‘High-Level Forum On Sustainable Business and Human Rights Principles’ held in Abuja.
Rafsanjani while commending development partners including Global Rights and the Open Society Foundations who have graciously supported the initiative and provided resources for undertaking the intervention in Nigeria said, “In a society like Nigeria where you have several businesses both local and international operating in different parts of the country, protection against human rights abuses within the Nigerian territory by businesses is very important.
“It is expedient for the Government to take appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish and redress such abuses through effective policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication.
“Relevant stakeholders have continued to demand appropriate actions and accountability from the government who is signatory to international Charters such as the United Nations Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) that seeks to promote implementation of Protection, Respect and Remedy for human rights abuses/ violations by transactional corporations and business enterprises.
“Undoubtedly, there has been advocacy, and ongoing efforts by the multi-stakeholder National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights as well as other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that Nigeria adopts a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, and more importantly, implement the NAP as a means to fulfill its duty under the national constitution and international obligations to promote and protect human rights.
“There is also a need, citizens across the length and breadth of the country especially, within host communities such as mining communities as well as oil producing communities who seem to be affected the most to rise up to against and demand that government protects their rights and deal decisively on issues of human rights violations arising from activities of businesses operating within Nigeria.”
The CISLAC boss also explained the essence of the project, “This project aims at stimulation and promotion of human rights agenda in Nigeria’s business sector through the collaborative platform of the standing National Roundtable on Business and Human Rights (NBH2R) and the promotion of a National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP) for Nigeria as a fundamental element in government agenda and business strategies.”
He also expressed hope of implementation of the document, “It is our hope and desire, that National Human Rights Commission who has also been part of this process receives this draft document and incorporates it into the already existing National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) because its content/ provisions aim to compliment and further enrich the NAP.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, represented by Assistant Director, Legal, NHRC, Pwaolumdi Okoh, while commending CISLAC over implementation of National Action Plan, NAP, on Business and Human Rights spoke in a goodwill message pointed out that human rights due diligence will help businesses manage risk.
“The Commission appreciates the effort CISLAC has put in place by organizing various stakeholders’ consultative forum to look at the draft NAP on BHR and further develop a Cohesive Human Rights Due Diligence Document, a document aimed at causing the easy implementation of the NAP on BHR by all affected sectors and institutions,
“Human Rights Due Diligence like we all know is an ongoing risk management process that a reasonable and prudent company needs to follow in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how it addresses its adverse human rights impacts.
“It is a known fact that a risk based due diligence, as recommended in the UNGPs is increasingly accepted as a key tool to mitigate potential adverse human rights impacts of business operations”, he stated.
He also made it known that, “The Commission has in view of the import of this sector, added Business and Human Rights as one of the components of the general NAP on Human Rights for the next season.”
Also speaking was the Country Director, Global Rights, Abiodun Baiyewu, who was represented by the Programme Officer, Global Rights, Foluso Ibigbami, commended CISLAC on delivering accurately on the document.
Baiyewu also expressed sadness over the impoverishment suffered by most host communities allegedly caused by some corporate organizations operating in those host communities despite the resource they live with.
However, she called on CSOs to stop talk-shows while they sit and watch host communities left to suffer despite the presence of these companies, which she said they are to unanimously rise and hold government accountable on the situation these communities find themselves.
However, in a presentation with title, ‘Sustainable Principle for Effective Promotion of Human Rights within the Business Sector in Nigeria’ by Adewale Timothy, made it clear that companies operating in Nigerian communities are to ensure they carry out human rights impact assessment in order not to infringe on the rights of the people in whose communities they want to do business and it should be done transparently.
He advised companies to have and make public their policy commitment on their websites and social media platforms, and implemented transparently.
Timothy further stated that businesses have no choice on respecting the rights of the people, and on any adverse human rights impact should be remediated by the company.
According to him it would enhance smooth community relations, and stressed that the Human Rights Commission should be on ground to ensure these companies implement these requirements.