The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC in Nigeria says it will launch a National Programme of Action for the protection of the rights of Key Populations, KPs in the country.
It further said the move is necessary considering several allegations of human rights violations against this vulnerable members of the society.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu, who disclosed this during a Strategic Capacity Building and Planning Workshop on the protection of the rights of key populations in Nigeria observed that the enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) has unfortunately increased the level of homophobia and attacks on LGBTQ.
The workshop which was organised by the Commission in partnership with EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, UNDP and UNAIDS, Mr. Ojukwu said that the proposed national programme of action targeted at protecting the rights of KPs will involve other stakeholders like KPs, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Police, the Judiciary and other human rights networks across the country.
” The NHRC cannot be silent in the face of the flagrant violations of human rights of the KPs such as arbitrary arrests, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment , lynching, and other forms of extra-judicial murder”, the Executive Secretary stated.
The Chief Human Rights Officer in Nigeria also told the participants comprising the Commission’s State Coordinators and other partners that NHRC has been making effective intervention into cases of rights violations of key populations, citing the recent protection of the rights of 90 young men who were arbitrarily arrested in Anambra state and charged for cultism and being gay.
“In the same vein, the Commission’s Yobe State Coordinator intervened to stop the lynching of entire family because their son was accused of sodomy”, he added.
He therefore urged the state coordinators and other participants to enlighten their minds and eschew biases they might hitherto have on the issue of key populations but to adhere to their calling instead of relying on religious or other prejudices.
The UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Erasmus Morah commended Nigeria for identifying people living with HIV/AIDS and providing them the enabling environment to live in dignity.
The Country Director who was represented by Ms. Eura Jean Stevens said people living with HIV/AIDS are able to access medical treatment thus she advocated that similar protection should be accorded to the key populations, adding that their gender identity should not expose them to any form of inhuman and degrading treatment.
In his contribution, the Deputy Country Coordinator of President Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), Dr. Murphy Akpu said that key populations should not be denied the right to health just because of their sexual orientation or for whatever reason.
He noted that there are certain inequalities that exist which prevent some categories of people from the enjoyment of their rights.
He also pledged the commitment and support of his Organisation towards the advancement of the rights of everyone irrespective of their attributes and orientation