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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the implications of the proposed Act Regulation of Foreign Aid to Civil Society Organizations on the work of Human Rights Defenders in the Federal Republic of Nigeria

The Special Rapporteure on Human Rights Defenders of Human Rights in Africa, Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou, received reports that a Bill - sponsored by the Honourable Eddie I. Mbadiwe – proposing regulation on foreign funding and contribution to Nigerian civil society organizations is set to be discussed on July 2, 2014 at the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Special Rapporteure notes that this Bill contains terms, such as ‘voluntary organization’ open to interpretation which could adversely affect the work of human rights defenders. It also contains several provisions which prohibit civil society organizations from receiving funds or other foreign contribution without prior approval of the Commission on Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences.

The Special Rapporteure notes that the Section 3 of the said Bill is a violation of freedom of association and assembly, guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and  the AfricanCharter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular at the Articles 10 (1) and 11 of the later. The provisions in this Section infringe on the work of human rights defenders and constitute state interference on organizations’ management. Such a law, if adopted and promulgated will jeopardize the hard-earned progress made by human rights defenders in Nigeria.

The Special Rapporteure urges the Nigerian authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that this Bill does not lead to a regression of the enjoyment of rights and freedoms in Nigeria and Africa.

She reminds the Government of Nigeria of its international obligations particularly those under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and its responsibilities under the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteure recognizes the significant strides made by Nigerian authorities in the protection and promotion of human rights and further to the same urges them to ensure that human rights defenders operate in a conducive environment free from administrative processes, likely to be a constraint in the execution of their activities, and from reprisals or prosecution because of foreign funding and contribution received.

The Special Rapporteure urges Nigerian authorities, in particular the Honourables Members of the House of Representatives to dissociate themselves from any attempt to violate the rights of human rights defenders to carry out their work in harmonious and serene conditions.

Done in Banjul, 30 June 2014

Commissioner, Special Rapporteure on Human Rights Defenders


Me Reine Alapini Gansou