Mar 16, 2007
News: European Parliament Gets Tough With Nigeria Over “Anti-Gay” Bill
(Strasbourg, EU) -The European Parliament is to call on the Nigerian Government and Parliament not to adopt the proposed 'Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act' in its current form. MEPs this afternoon voted 61-24, with one abstention, on a wide-ranging human rights resolution tabled by the EPP-DE group that also included a call to abolish the death penalty and to intervene in individual cases of persons tried under Sharia law and sentenced to death, amputation, flogging or other inhuman and degrading treatment that violates the Nigerian Constitution as well as international human rights law.
The resolution also demands that Nigeria addresses the continuing problem of the exploitation of children and calls on the Nigerian Government to take immediate and effective measures to protect its citizens, put an end to the violence, the widespread corruption.
It was hoped that Parliament would adopt a composite resolution, adopted by the ALDE, Greens/ALE, GUE/NGL and PSE groups, which was seen as “stronger”, but this was defeated.
FULL TEXT OF RESOLUTION B6-105 (EPP-DE)
(Note: two words were amended before the vote)
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Nigeria,
– having regard to the international human rights conventions ratified by Nigeria,
– having regard to Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas despite efforts made in recent years by the Nigerian government to promote human rights and to stem corruption, and despite some improvements in respect for civil and political rights, a number of urgent and basic human rights issues remain to be addressed and the country remains marred by corruption, arbitrary arrests and torture, extrajudicial killings and political violence,
B. whereas ethnic and religious divisions, as well as widespread poverty, are major causes of chronic intercommunal violence,
C. whereas Islamic Sharia courts have jurisdiction over criminal cases in 12 of Nigeria's 36 States; whereas these courts continue to hand down death sentences as well as sentences of flogging and amputation - although executions and amputations are no longer being carried out, the trials do not conform to international standards, for instance with regard to the right to a lawyer and informing the accused of their rights, and they tend to discriminate against women,
D. whereas impunity remains the rule rather than the exception, since very few of the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations are investigated and brought to justice, and whereas such impunity is in itself one of the most important obstacles to tackling and ending human rights abuse and violence,
E. whereas the insufficient capacity and resources of the Nigerian police forces limit their possibilities of investigating crimes and also result in large numbers of people being held in extended pre-trial detention, in violation of their rights,
F. whereas police and security forces have often been implicated in human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torture,
G. whereas child labour and child trafficking remain widespread,
H. whereas freedom of expression remains limited by the continued harassment of journalists and political activists,
I. whereas the Nigerian Parliament is currently examining a Bill entitled the 'Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act', imposing a five-year prison sentence on anyone who 'performs, witnesses, aids or abets the ceremony of same sex marriage', but also on anyone involved publicly or privately in positive representation of or advocacy for same sex relationships,
J. whereas past state and national elections in 1999 and 2003 could not be considered as free and fair due to widespread fraud and violence,
1. Calls on the Nigerian Government to take immediate and effective measures to protect its citizens, put an end to the violence, the widespread corruption and the impunity for the perpetrators of human rights violations, and actively promote respect for human rights;
2. Calls on the Nigerian Government to abolish the death penalty and to intervene in individual cases of persons tried under Sharia law and sentenced to death, amputation, flogging or other inhuman and degrading treatment that violates the Nigerian Constitution as well as international human rights law;
3. Welcomes the multilateral agreement among 26 western and central African countries against trafficking in women and children, as well as other efforts made in this domain by the Nigerian authorities; calls, however, on the Nigerian Government to take further measures in this area as well as in tackling the exploitation of children through child labour;
4. Calls on all stakeholders in the forthcoming national elections in April to publicly declare their commitment to ending political violence, killings, intimidations and other human rights abuses as well as impunity for such crimes;
5. Calls on the Nigerian Government to take all necessary measures to address pre-election concerns regarding limitations on the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), abusive conduct and harassment by security forces, and any other obstacle to freedom of expression and opinion and other basic requirements for free and fair elections;
6. Calls on the Nigerian Parliament not to adopt the proposed 'Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act' in its current form, since it contains infringements of the basic human rights of freedom of expression and opinion, in particular when it envisages a five-year prison sentence for anyone involved publicly or privately in positive representation of or advocacy for same sex relationships;
7. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Government and Parliament of Nigeria.