The NHRC (Amendment) Act, 2010 has conferred on the Commission additional independence and strengthened the Commission's power with respect to promotion and protection of human rights, investigation of alleged violation of human rights and enforcement of decisions. The Amendment Act has also widened the scope of the Commission's Mandate to include vetting of legislations at all levels to ensure their compliance with human rights norms.
Specifically, the NHRC is mandated to:
The Commission shall have power to
a) conduct its investigations and inquiries in such manner as it considers appropriate;
b) institute any civil action on any matter it deems fit in relation to the exercise of its functions under this Act;
c) appoint any person, whether or not such person is "in the public service, to act as an interpreter in any matter brought before it and to translate any such book, paper or writing produced to it;
d) visit prisons, police cells and other places of detention to ascertain the condition thereof and make recommendation to the appropriate authorities;
e) make determination as to the damages or compensation payable in relation to any violation of human rights where it deems this necessary in the circumstances of the case;
f) co-operate with and consult with other agencies and organisations governmental and non-governmental, as it may deem appropriate; and
g) do such other things as are incidental, necessary, conductive or expedient for the performance of its functions under this Act.
Whenever it appears to the Chairman upon information and after such inquiry as he shall think necessary, that there is reasonable cause to suspect that in any place there is evidence of the Commission of any offence under this Act, he may by written order direct an officer of the Commission to obtain a Court order to:
a) enter upon any land or premises or by any agents duly authorized in writing for any purpose which, in the opinion of the Council is material to obtaining evidence or information or of inspecting or taking copies of any document required by, or which may be of assistance to the Commission and for safeguarding any such document of property which in the opinion of the Council ought to be safeguarded for any purpose of its investigations or proceedings;
b) summon and interrogate any person, body or authority to appear before it for the purpose of a public inquiry aimed at the resolution of a complaint of human rights violation;
c) issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuse or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the Commission;
d) compel any person, body or authority who in its opinion has any information relating to any matter under its investigation to furnish it with any evidence which is in his or her custody and which relates to any matter being investigate and
e) compel the attendance of witnesses to produce evidence before it.
In exercise of its functions and powers under this Act, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person;
It is an offence for any person, body or authority to:
a) refuse to provide evidence, including documentary evidence, to the Commission in response to a written request to do so;
b) obstruct or do anything to prevent any member of the Council or an employee of the Commission from the lawful exercise of any of the functions conferred on the Commission by this Act;
c) punish, intimidate, harass or discriminate against any person for co-operating with the Commission in the exercise of its functions under this Act; or
d) refuse to comply with lawful directives, determination, decision or finding of the Commission.
A person who commits an offence under subsection (4) of this section is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of 6 months or to a fine of N100,000.00 or to both imprisonment and fine.
These are rights naturally accruable to every person by virtue of his/her existence as a human being. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Chapter IV enumerates the following as fundamental human rights:
The above rights are classified under chapter IV of the Constitution as Fundamental Rights.
However, there are other rights under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State policy provided under chapter II of the Constitution. These include the right to:
The former are justiciable rights, i.e. citizens could go to court to enforce them if denied. The latter rights are however non-justiciable, i.e. these set of rights are not enforceable in the court. They are aspirations attainable if and when the State has the resources. However, the Commission believes the two sets of rights are both fundamental and complementary. This is because; right to life for instance, is meaningless without gainful employment or food to sustain life in the first place. The Commission has made a strong case for the upgrading of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to Fundamental Rights. Human rights are interdependent, interrelated, indivisible and universal.
For effective performance and result oriented approach to its work, the Commission identified nineteen (19) Thematic Areas of focus. These include:
The Commission realizing that human rights campaign cannot be achieved solely through the development of protective laws or establishment of mechanisms to implement those laws engages in series of educational and public enlightenment programmes to raise public awareness on human rights issues. The Commission regularly holds workshop, seminars, conferences and interactive sessions with relevant stakeholders. The Commission also engages in continuous media advocacy and periodic publications aimed at disseminating appropriate human rights messages. Sensitization, education and enlightenment programmes have also been carried out by the Commission in collaboration with NGOs and CBO's to raise awareness on human rights throughout the country. Village Square meetings are also held across the country to discuss the mandate of the Commission and other issues of relevance to specific local environments.
A robust and effective complaint treatment mechanism has been put in place at the Headquarters and all the State Offices to handle all complaints of human rights violations. Additional offices are now being established to increase access to the Commission's complaint treatment mechanism. All victims of human rights violations can access the services of the Commission free of charge, at any of the commission's offices. The Commission has also developed a complaints treatment manual, which aims at ensuring uniform and speedy treatment of complaints.
There has been a high level of compliance with the decisions of the Commission by alleged violators of human rights since its establishment in 1995. The NHRC (amendment) Act, 2010 has however conferred on the Commission express powers to enforce her decisions. Under this provision, decisions of the Commission's Governing Council are registrable as decisions of the High Court.
All complaint should be addressed to the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission and sent to any of our offices (see addresses).
Complaints can also be submitted online or forwarded via our email address email@example.com
Complaints may be made in writing or orally to the National Office of the Commission or to a representative of the Commission at the Zonal or other offices of the Commission. The complaint must be signed or thumb printed by the complainant or his agent. A complaint made orally must be reduced into writing by the officer or representative of the Commission to whom the complaint is made and signed or thumb-printed by the complainant or his agent.
A complaint must contain the full names and contact address of the complainant and the body or persons against whom the complaint is made. Full particulars of the complaint and the facts in its support must also be stated, as well as the relief sought. A complaint should not be made in abusive language.
NHRC - Nigeria is an 'A' status national institution as accredited by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
The Commission engages with key partners to deliver on its mandate. These partners are drawn from: