CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide) is a human rights organisation specialising in the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). CSW wishes to bring the following concerns and recommendations to the Committee’s attention, in reference to the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereafter Nigeria). CSW has worked on Nigeria since 1998. This submission draws on CSW’s research and detailed witness testimonies, and considers Nigeria’s current commitments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), with a particular focus on Article 18.
Nigeria’s Federal Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, place of origin, gender, religion or political opinion, “either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law … or any such executive or administrative action,” and guarantees freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief to all citizens, including the right to change religion or belief. It allows for the freedoms of movement, expression, assembly and association.
Nigeria is party to a number of international agreements that guarantee FoRB and non-discrimination, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). However, violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief have occurred for decades in the north, arising mainly from a system of marginalization of minority faiths dating back to the colonial era. A concomitant longstanding impunity in religion-related violence has created an enabling environment for the regular emergence of extremist groups with an antipathy to FoRB.