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Nigeria: Journalist safety and security is cause for concern

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 3 November 2011
Cite as Article 19, Nigeria: Journalist safety and security is cause for concern, 3 November 2011, available at: [accessed 21 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Nigeria presented the country's fourth human rights report covering the period 2009 to 2010 to African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). The report reviews the progress made and the challenges encountered by the government in its bid to fulfill its obligations under the African Charter. While acknowledging the progress made in adopting the Freedom of Information Act in May 2011, ARTICLE 19 calls on the government to establish mechanisms to implement it.  In addition, the Nigerian government must ensure effective protection of journalists against violence from state and non state actors and to take steps to seriously address cases of incessant harassment and intimidation of journalists.

While the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was commended by the Commissioners of the ACHPR for engaging with the review process and for being one of 12 African Union member states to have complied with their reporting obligations under the African Charter, specific concerns were raised over a number of key issues. These include the high security risks for journalists, the recent wave of legal threats to media workers, and the flaws of the judicial system that leads to constant breaches of the right to fair trial and denial of justice in many instances.

Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, in charge of reviewing the Country report and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, raised the lack of adequate protection of human rights defenders and journalists in Nigeria and requested the delegation to shed more light on the recent murder of journalist Zakariya Isa.

Zakariya Isa, of Public TV, was allegedly killed by members of the Boko Haram sect on the 22 October 2011 in front of his house. The head of the delegation, Pius Oteh, assured the Commissioner that the government has written to the family of the victim to present their condolences and support and will conduct an independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. He also reiterated that freedom of expression is guaranteed in Nigerian law and effective in practice and that 'Nigerian media is one of the freest in the world.'

"ARTICLE 19 welcomes the government's promise to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of journalists Zakariya Isa and bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. The government of Nigeria has not responded satisfactory to some of the key concerns of the ACHPR,"  said Fatou Jagne Senghore, ARTICLE 19 West Africa.

"The current threats to freedom of expression in Nigeria,  from both government and non-state actors, and the high security risks for journalists need to be urgently addressed by the government in order to fully comply with the Africa Charter,"  continued Senghore.  

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Nigerian government to:

  • Undertake all necessary measures to ensure effective protection of journalists against violence, threats and harassment from both  state and non-state actors, enabling journalists to work in a free and safe environment;
  • Immediately conduct speedy, effective and independent investigation into the killing of journalists Zakariya Isa and bring the perpetrators and the instigators to justice;
  • Put in place effective, transparent and accessible mechanisms to facilitate the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and
  • Provide access to justice and legal remedies to victims of all human rights violations, including the right to freedom of expression.

Copyright notice: Copyright ARTICLE 19

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