Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has written to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon, urging him to “condemn violations of the rights to life, human dignity and work in Nigeria and to refer the matter to appropriate United Nations human rights bodies”.
In a letter signed by the Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the human rights group called on the UN hierarchy “to use your good office and leadership to publicly condemn and refer the unlawful deaths and inhuman and degrading treatment of job-seekers by the Nigerian government to appropriate United Nations human rights bodies in particular, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.
“According to our information, on March 15, thousands of job seekers attended job seeking examinations organised by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Internal Affairs Ministry, in different centres in Nigeria to fill 4,556 vacancies” the statement said.
SERAP noted that “at different centres around the country, including Abuja, Benin, Kano, Minna, and Port‑Harcourt, many job‑seekers, including pregnant mothers, were killed and several others were injured in stampedes due primarily to lack of due diligence and poor arrangements by the government
“The unlawful deaths and inhuman and degrading treatment of the job-seekers constitute violations of their rights to life, dignity and work. The case also shows the growing level of economic injustice caused by pervasive corruption and lack of opportunities for Nigerian children to enjoy the right to employment and to gain a living by work, as guaranteed by international and regional human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.
“In particular, Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to work, to free choice of employment, to protection against unemployment, and to an existence worthy of human dignity. The right to work is essential for realizing other human rights and forms an inseparable and inherent part of human dignity.
“We therefore urge you to use your good office and leadership to ensure international accountability for the violations of the human rights of the job-seekers by the Nigerian government,” the letter read.
SERAP reminded the UN of its empowerment by “Rule 22 of the Provisional rules of procedure adopted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at its third session (1989) to inform the members of the committee questions and violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which is within the mandate of the committee”.
The group also called on the UN to “urgently adopt legislative, budgetary, administrative and other measures to promote and support access to employment opportunities for young persons, in particular young women and persons with disabilities. All victims and their families should receive adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or a guarantee of non‑repetition”, the statement added.