Nigeria: NHRC Calls for End to Modern Day Slavery

(file photo).
23 August 2020

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for an end to all forms of modern day slavery to pave the way for full enjoyment of human rights by all rural and urban poor, the rich, the downtrodden, the displaced and the homeless.

Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, made the call on the eve of the 2020 International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (IDRVS).

In a statement by the Assistant Director Corporate Affairs and External Linkages Department, NHRC, Fatima Agwai, the executive secretary, noted that despite the abolition of slave trade several decades ago, many countries including Nigeria "are still grappling with other forms of modern day slavery."

She identified human trafficking, sexual slavery, child/forced labour, prostitution, enlistment of minors in military service, servitude or removal of organ for pecuniary benefits, Osu, Ohu and other cast systems as modern day slavery.

Ojukwu observed that the theme of this year's remembrance, "Confronting Slavery's Legacy of Racism Together", is apt given the fact that racism plays a critical role in promoting slavery.

International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed on August 23 annually.

According to him, the long-term effects of transatlantic slave trade, which also have some trappings of racism, still reverberate across various societies globally.

He said all hands must be on deck to fight the menace saying it is high time humanity came to terms with the tenets of human rights targeted at enhancing human dignity, equality and respect for fundamental freedoms.

He stated that relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other regional and international human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory, all condemn slavery in all its ramifications.

Ojukwu accordingly decried the disturbing trend where young Nigerian men, women and girls are trafficked to various parts of the world including Saudi Arabia, Italy, Libya etc in the name of searching for greener pasture only for them to become stranded and face various forms of inhuman and degrading treatments.

He said the commission "is working assiduously with relevant agencies to stem the tide of all forms of modern day slavery, servitude and other related practices."

He also condemned the action of some parents locking up members of the families in solitary and inhuman confinement for years with little or no food thereby denying them of their human rights.

The executive secretary urged members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspected migration, child abuse/molestation and the attendant human rights violations to the commission, NAPTIP or the police, for necessary interventions accordingly.

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