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Women’s Rights Unit presents capacity building workshop on state reporting on the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol in Abuja, Nigeria

22 March 2018 - The Women’s Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria, organised a capacity building workshop on state reporting under the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol, from 12 to 14 March 2018, at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja. Participants at the workshop included representatives from ministries and agencies of government, as well as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria.

The opening session featured remarks from Mrs Yemisi Akhile, the Executive secretary of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions on behalf of the National Human Rights Commission, emphasizing the role of national human rights organisations and CSOs in holding government accountable to its international and regional human rights obligations. Mrs Stella Anukam, Director of international and comparative law, gave the opening statement on behalf of the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, urging all the participants to advocate and collectively work towards the faithful implementation of the provisions of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol. Mrs Helen Obayagbo also gave a goodwill message on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, citing the various ways in which the government is taking steps to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of the treaties. This includes the enactment of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act in 2015, efforts toward passing the Gender and Equal opportunities bill and extensive work done on sensitising and advocating for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

In lectures that were both explicit and thought provoking, Prof. Michelo Hansungule from the Centre for Human Rights introduced participants to the regional & global human rights system applicable to Nigeria. His sessions focused on specific principles and provisions of the African Charter with reference made to the similarities and differences in laws and practices of different countries. He also engaged participants in as in-depth reflection on Nigeria’s commitment under the African Charter and Maputo Protocol, pointing out gaps in the implementation of both instruments and the necessary action that government must take to ensure the fulfilment of the rights enshrined therein. One key issue discussed centred around interaction with the state reporting process itself. State governments were urged to treat the process with the openness it requires and not to be overly defensive about issues raised by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) upon presentation of the country report in order for the state party to fully benefit from the process.

The second and third day of the workshop focused majorly on the Maputo Protocol and concluding observations issued by treaty bodies, specifically on the rights of women and children in Nigeria. Ms. Patience Mungwari Mpani introduced participants to the substantive provisions of the Maputo protocol, the comparative difference between CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol as well as state reporting obligations and reporting guidelines under the Protocol. This session gave participants the opportunity to reflect on harmful and discriminatory practices within Nigeria that infringe on the rights of women and girls. Specific mention was given on the need to come up with creative ways to end harmful practices such as child marriage by acknowledging, praising and even rewarding (the Maputo Prize) families that have taken pride in the education of their female children amidst the pressure to marry them off at an early age for other economic benefits. One the third day Ms. Tomi Okeowo enlightened participants about concluding observations and recommendations of treaty bodies such as the African Commission. This resulted in a discussion on the implementation of these concluding observations which was led by Mr. Danjuma Aliyu from the Ministry of Justice. Ms. Tosin Nguher from the National Human Rights Commission presented to participants on the role of CSOs and national human rights organisations in the state party reporting process.  

The training was highly educational and interactive, giving participants a wider view of the African human rights system and state reporting obligations and guidelines under the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol. Consequently, participants left equipped with renewed vigour to push for the protection and promotion of the rights enshrined within these instruments. Theyalso made commitments to make good use of the knowledge acquired at the training to support the government in carrying out its treaty reporting obligations under the African Charter and Maputo Protocol.

 

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