NHRC outlines measures to curb SGBV in Nigeria

…As commission receives over 700 complaints

By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has outlined measures that are aimed at combating Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the country.

Speaking on Tuesday at a two-day high-level workshop for human rights defenders in support for victims of SGBV in Abuja and spotlight focal states, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, revealed that the NHRC received a total of 754 complaints involving over 954 victims from 27 state offices of the commission between January and June 2020.

He enumerated the states with the majority of cases received to include: Lagos, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto and Cross River.

In his welcome remarks, OJukwu disclosed that a number of “innovative measures” had been taken to address the challenges of human rights violations, particularly SGBV.

The NHRC boss said, “Faced by the challenge of restricted movement, the commission in partnership with other stakeholders adopted the use of technology to scale up response and protection for victims/survivors. In this regard, we up scaled the usage of our social media channels, developed cutting edge applications such as and UNSUB, amongst others.

He further highlighted other initiatives to include: ” The Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, upgrading the commission’s call centre with specific SGBV toll free lines, inter-ministerial committee on Sexual and Gender Based Violence, state of human rights on AIT (television enlightenment programme) as well as the ongoing 16 Days of Activism on SGBV amongst others.

Ojukwu expressed hope that at the end of the workshop, “There would be a more coordinated approach regarding issues of SGBV amongst stakeholders. Some of these approaches include; harmonising policies of stakeholders on SGBV; carrying out advocacy to bring about changes in behaviours and attitudes of the society on SGBV; identifying resources and developing an action plan for issues of SGBV, among others.”

Earlier, Mr Harry Obe, Director of Women Children & Vulnerable Groups department of the NHRC, detailed the objectives of the workshop to include: “Identifying and bringing together key human rights defenders across all sectors of the society, to discuss and agree on the way forward on how best to assist victims of sexual and gender based violence as well as to train defenders on how to mainstream human rights into defenders assistance to victims of SGBV.”

On his goodwill message, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Abuja chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, pledged the commitment of journalists to holding violators of human rights, especially SGBV accountable.

Similarly, the UNDP Country representative, Mr. Mohammed Yahaya, lauded the NHRC for its efforts in tackling SGBV and associated rights violations, pledging to support any initiative that would ensure the protection of SGBV victims.

He emphasized the need to strengthen the capacity of human rights defenders, so as to empower them to discharge their onerous tasks bringing perpetrators of SGBV to book.

In his goodwill remarks, a representative of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Mr. Bamidele Ibikunle, said his organisation was ready to collaborate with the NHRC in providing free legal services to indigent victims/survivors of SGBV.

The workshop was organised by the NHRC in conjunction with the Spotlight Initiative and the European Union to eliminate violence against women and girls.

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