5 February 2018

Nigeria: Serap Takes Govt, Cameroun to African Commission Over Return of Refugees, Others

Photo: UNHCR
Cameroonian refugees arriving in Cross River State

A Lagos-based rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to end the ongoing human rights violation of naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers forcibly returned to their country by the Nigerian authorities."

It, therefore, urged the Chairperson and Bureau of the Commission "to urgently hold an extra-ordinary session of the African Commission to address the illegal and unfair return of 51 Cameroun refugees, asylum seekers and naturalised Nigerians, and the continuing violation of the rights of the returnees by the government of Cameroun."

The group also urged the Commission to "speak out strongly and condemn the unfair treatment of the refugees, asylum seekers and naturalised Nigerians by the government of Cameroun, and request the government to immediately release them from unlawful detention."

In a petition signed by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP stated: "International law is very clear on the fact that individuals, including asylum seekers, even if they have entered the country illegally, are entitled to enjoy human rights. SERAP is seriously concerned that forced return of naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers is both legally and morally wrong, and would set a bad precedent for the rest of the sub-region.

"Naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers came to Nigeria for protection and to escape the gross violation of fundamental human rights in Cameroun. By returning them to Cameroun, Nigerian authorities have failed to provide reasonable opportunity to them to establish their case through judicial review of the risk of persecution, torture and other human rights abuses in Cameroun."

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to "bring back to Nigeria naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers who were illegally arrested, detained and deported to Cameroun by the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd)."

The letter read in part: "We write this protest letter on behalf of our clients whose names and status are set out in the list of deportees. "Our clients are not illegal immigrants in Nigeria. Three of them are naturalised Nigerian citizens while others are recognised refugees and political asylum seekers in Nigeria."

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