International Human Rights Law and Police Work By Innocent Chukwuma Executive Director Overview of Presentation Duration: 60 minutes Goal: The aim of this session is to familiarize participants with the broad overview of international human rights law and police role in protecting them. Objectives: On completion of this session, participants will have Developed the knowledge required to engage in discussion of basic concepts of human rights and the role of the police in protecting them. Outline of Presentation – Definition of Human Rights Historical Overview of Human Rights International Human Rights Standards Human Rights in Nigerian Law Human Rights Treaties Ratified By Nigeria Enforcement Mechanisms of Human Rights Human Rights and Police Work Thank You! What Are Human Rights? • Human Rights are the rights we are entitled to by the mere fact of being human beings and which cannot be taken away from us without reducing our humanity. • Human Rights are universal and belong to every human being, rich, poor, male or female. • Examples of Human Rights are the right to life, personal liberty, Dignity, Freedom of Movement, Freedom of Association etc. Historical Overview of Human Rights • The story of how the idea of human rights came about in history dates back to many centuries ago and every human society can legitimately claim to have contributed in one way or the other in the development of what we call human rights today, which in the past was called natural or divine rights. • However, for the sake of our discussion, three institutions stand out in historical account of the modern concept of human rights: League of Nations • Created by the treaty of Versailles concluded at the Paris Conference of 1919 after the First World War to promote international cooperation, peace and security. • The League was not able to Prevent the outbreak of Second World War and the horrors around it. • It had no mechanism for protecting individual rights because its subjects were basically member States Historical Overview of Human Rights Ctd. International Labour Organization • Established under the Treaty of Versailles as an organ of the League of Nations to monitor and promote fair humane conditions of Labour for men, women and children. • It survived its parent body and its currently one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. • Since its Establishment, the ILO has promulgated about 180 conventions concerning forced and compulsory labour, Freedom of association and the right to organize, discrimination, and equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of Equal value, touch upon civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Historical Overview of Human Rights Cotd United Nations • It took the World War II and the horrors around it for the leaders of the free world to act decisively in the maintenance of international peace and security through the creation of the United Nations. • The instrument of its creation (The UN Charter) came into force on October 24, 1945, the day which is celebrated as the UN’s Official birthday. • The prime concern of the UN is international peace and security. • A detailed description of the UN and its main bodies and functions can be found in books on international law. For our purpose here, we shall dwell on its work in the promotion and protection of international human rights standard. International Human Rights Standards • Through the united Nations, the international community including Nigeria has engaged in extensive exercise of human rights standard setting in an attempt to create a legal framework for their effective promotion and protection. In general such standards have been set by developing multilateral treaties which create legally binding obligations upon member States. • Parallel to this activity, the member states of the UN, has adopted numerous instruments referred to as “soft laws” for the promotion and protection of human rights. • The “soft law” category are human rights instruments that can be understood at best as providing authoritative guidance on specific issues relating to human rights and freedoms. • We shall focus on the most important human rights instruments of “soft” and “hard” categories. International Human Rights Standards Cotd International Human Rights Standards can be divided into three majors sections: International Bill of Rights, Core International Human Rights Instruments and Human Rights in the Administration of Justice International Bill of Rights • Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966 • Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on civil and Political Rights, 1966 • Second Optional Protocol to the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1989 International Human Rights Standard Cotd Core International Human Rights Instruments: There are 13 core international human rights Instruments. They are: • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (21-12-65) • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (16-12-66) • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (16-12-66) • Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women 18-12-79 • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (10-12-84) • Convention on the Rights of the Child (20-11-89) • International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (18-12-90) • Optional protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (16-12-66) • Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the Abolition of Death Penalty (15-12-89) • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 10-12-99 • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (25-5-00) • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (25-5-00) • Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (18-12-02) International Human Rights Standard Cotd Human Rights in the Administration of Justice The UN has adopted 20 human rights principles in the field of administration of criminal justice. 11 of them are specifically relevant to law enforcement Officials: • Body of Principles for the protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment • United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty • Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment • Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment • Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials • Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials • Unite Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice • Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System • Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power • Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions • Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Human Rights in Nigerian Law Chapter four of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, known as the Fundamental Rights Section of the Constitution has extensive provision on Human Rights. The highlights are: • Right to life, S.33(1) • Right to Dignity of Human Person, S.34(1) • Right to Personal Liberty, S.35(1) • Right to Fair Hearing, S.36(1) • Right to Private Family Life, S.37 • Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, S. 38(1) • Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association, S.40 • Right to Freedom of Movement, S. 41(1) • Right to Freedom from Discrimination, S. 42(1) • Right to Acquire and Own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, S.43 Similar and further provisions on human rights can be found in the African Charter Incorporation Act, which domesticated the provisions of the African on Human and Peoples Rights in Nigeria and the Evidence Act of 1960, which prohibits the use of torture in interrogation. Human Rights Treaties Ratified By Nigeria Out of the 13 core international human rights treaties in force today, Nigeria has ratified 9. They are: • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (04-1-69) • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (29-10-93) • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (29-10-93) • Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (13-7-85) • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (28-7-01) • Convention on the Rights of the Child (19-4-91) • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (08-9-00) • Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (08-9-00) • Those not ratified are the optional protocols, except those relating to the rights of the child Enforcement Mechanisms of Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies • There are 6 major human rights treaties with monitoring bodies to ensure effective implementation of treaty obligations by member states: ICCPR, CESR, CERD, CEDAW, CAT and CRC. • Member states are obliged to send their periodic report on the implementation of their treaty obligations to the treaty monitoring bodies, which reviews such reports and make comments on the performance of the reporting party. These comments, which are sometimes hash, help member states in living up to their obligations. • NGOs are also permitted to submit alternative reports to those of member states, providing further information on areas state parties may no be forthcoming in giving accurate information. • These alternative report, sometimes called shadow reports, help a lot in providing additional information on the basis of which the treaty monitoring bodies make their concluding comments on state report. • The treaty monitoring bodies also receive individual petitions from citizens of members states whose rights are violated. Their decisions on such petitions form an important enforcement mechanism on human rights violation. Enforcement Mechanisms of Human Rights Resolution 1503 adopted by the UN Economic and Social Council on May 27, 1970 established the procedure for dealing with petitions relating to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This resolution empowers the UN sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to appoint a working group to consider all petitions on human rights violation with a view to bringing to the notice of the Sub-Commission petitions which appear to reveal a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Petitions that are found to reveal systematic violations of human rights in particular countries are referred to the UN Commission on Human Rights for appropriate action, which may include adoption of a resolution openly condemning human rights situation in such countries. Enforcement Mechanisms of Human Rights Special Procedure Mechanism • Because of the delays inherent in the work of the treaty-based mechanisms in the enforcement of human rights, and the realization by the international community that victims of human rights need urgent response to their plight, the UN created a special procedure mechanism (also known as urgent procedure or non-treaty based mechanism) within its Centre for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland to respond to urgent situation requiring its intervention to save a victim from torture, extra-judicial killing, enforcement disappearances etc. • Under this mechanism, Special Rapportuers are appointed on specific human rights themes to respond to individual complaints on actual or potential human rights violation requiring speedy intervention through urgent appeal letters to governments to prevent the action or protect such people. • They also embark on missions to countries where many of such appeals for intervention are sent from to study what is happening their and make recommendations to the UN Commission on Human Rights During its annual sessions in Geneva on what should be done about those countries. • The important point about the Special Procedure mechanism is that your country does not need to be a party to a particular human rights treaty for you to send petition to it. Many NGOs send petitions on human rights violations to the Special Procedure Mechanisms Human Rights and Police Work • Are human rights an impediment or enhancer of police work? • If an Impediment, Why? • If an Enhancer, Why. The Fact Remains: • International Human Rights Law is binding on all States and their agents, including law enforcement officials. • Law Enforcement Officials are obliged to know, and to apply international human rights standards. • If you don’t, the long arm of the law will catch up with you someday • Thank you!
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