Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights: Youths are the solution not the problem, By Ruhamah Ifere

Posted by News Express | 8 January 2021 | 792 times

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•Ruhamah Ifere


Human rights have been touted to be the inalienable rights of every human, irrespective of gender, race, sex, religion, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin or other status.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 - the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year’s is themed "Recover Better- Stand Up for Human Rights."

The advent of the novel coronavirus disrupted and brought to fore the anomalies that exist in many sectors of the country. This has existed for a long time to the detriment of citizens.

Access to justice is one of the issues that have plagued the Nigerian. Justice has not only been delayed but denied.

The #EndSARS protest is a case in point of how the rights of citizens get trampled every day with no recourse to justice. The issue of police brutality meted out arbitrarily, ironically by the same organisation which has been enforced with the power to protect the lives of citizens leaves little to wonder on the sanctity of human rights in our nation.

According to Martin Luther King Jr, “True peace is not merely the absence of conflict. It is the presence of justice.”

Although justice is a relative term that refers to fairness, moral rightness or a scheme or system of laws in which every person receives his/her due from the system, including all rights, and privileges.

In the decided case of Obajimi v Adediji H A, Augie, JCA, describes justice as a fair treatment. “And  when we say the justice in se, it demands that the competing rights of the parties must be taken into consideration and balanced in such a way that justice is not only done but must be seen to be done.”

Also, Pat-Acholonu, JSC, in Okotie-Eboh v Manager & ors describes justice allegorically as follows: “Justice is often depicted as a blindfolded woman with a sword in one hand and a scale on the other. Those who are called to mete out justice are not blindfolded. They see with their two eyes and reason with their head. In the application of the law to meet the end of justice, it is important to recognise that both men and women now live in a dynamic society and the interpretation of the provision of any statute should mirror the social accentuation of the society and understanding the nature of man or woman."

The Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), propounded by the United Nations are all focused on different aspects of human rights. SDG 16 focuses on promoting peace, justice and strong institutions.

All over the world, people are standing up for human rights as there is the need for a consolidated approach in achieving the SDGs and advancing human rights.

The youth plays an important role in achieving the goals. In the just concluded Peace Conference 2020, which held virtually for three days, Rep Grace Meng, the representative from New York, U S, House of Representatives, opined: "Youths are the solution not the problem.”

Youths in Nigeria need to be engaged by the government in policy-making. Evidently, the youths constitute more than 50 per cent of the population. This was made manifest in the cry for justice and stand for human rights in the #EndSARS protest by the youths.

According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, there are eight pillars of positive peace. These are:

• Well-functioning government

• Sound business environment

• Low levels of corruption

• Acceptance of the rights of others

• Equitable distribution of resources

• Good relations with neighbours

• Free flow of information

• High level of human capital.

For there to be sustainable peace, the key drivers of peace must be identified.

The institutions in Nigeria have to be strengthened to promote accountability, transparency, open governance and prompt access to justice.

Citizens need to be reassured of the commitment to the reaffirmation of the importance of human rights.

Ruhamah Ifere writes from Lagos.

Source: News Express

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