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Nigeria must protect and promote women’s participation in politics, say UN experts

GENEVA (22 October 2018) – UN human rights experts* are urging Nigeria to take immediate steps to remedy deliberate attempts to exclude women candidates from recent party primary elections for seats in state and national legislatures.

Reports of irregularities in primaries in states around Nigeria include reports of party and election officials excluding women candidates from candidate lists, denying them access to essential information regarding the election, and cancelling and rescheduling primaries, allegedly with the sole purpose of excluding women candidates.

“We call on the Nigerian authorities to fully investigate these allegations and to ensure that women candidates who have been unfairly or illegally excluded are given access to appropriate remedies,” the experts said. “We also urge the authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure that such irregularities are not present in the next phase of elections.”

There have also been reports of widespread intimidation, blackmail and violent attacks against women candidates and their supporters. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence and intimidation to try to keep women out of politics,” the experts said. “Perpetrators of such violence must be brought to justice.”

The experts recognised that Nigeria’s National Gender Policy contains a provision calling for measures to ensure that women fill 35 percent of elective and appointive political posts, but deplored that such measures had not been put into actual practice.

“Ensuring women’s full and equal participation in politics and in public life is required by international human rights law. What is more, it is essential for women’s equality in all spheres of life, for making certain that their perspective is represented in law and in policy, and for achieving true democracy for all,” the experts said.

The experts are in contact with Nigerian authorities about this case.

ENDS

*The UN experts: Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Ms. Elizabeth Broderick, Ms. Alda Facio, Ms. Ivana Radačić (Chair), Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane (Vice Chair), Ms. Melissa Upreti, Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice;

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page - Nigeria

For further information and media requests, please contact Ms. Monica Iyer (+41 22 917 9668) spbconsultant7@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383)  jlaurence@ohchr.org

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org.