Protection of human rights and the rule of law is a natural and legal process, which is used in ensuring that the rights of the citizen are not violated. It is natural because citizens naturally fight for the defense of their human rights. It is legal because the constitution of the land provides for the protection of the human rights of the citizens. There are various ways of protecting human rights. These are discussed below.
WAYS AN INDIVIDUAL PROTECTS HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE LAW
Court Representation or Appearance:
In cases whereby the rights of an individual are infringed upon, other well meaning citizens, especially lawyers go to court to defend the rights of the oppressed in the court. A good example was the late Chief Ganni Fawehinmi who was always in court to represent those that the military government had detained and harassed unjustly during the military rule in Nigeria. In Nigeria of today where democracy is practised, human rights abuse still occur. Thus, lawyers like Femi Falana, Festus eyamo, among others, go to court to represent the less Privileged. Several organizations such as the ;Legal Aid Council and others offer free legal assistance to those in need of such.
When human rights are violated, and rules of law are not upheld, individuals and groups organize protest marches in order to draw the attention of the public to it so as to seek redress. In Nigeria today, the ‘Save Nigeria Group have been mobilizing all Nigerians against electoral malpractices. They have held protest marches in various parts of the country.
The press usually assists in protecting human rights by reporting the cases of human rights violation. When the press report such violations, it stimulates public opinion. Thus, the attention and comments of the people become unfavourable at the end, the violations are redressed. For example, when various foreign and local media houses started reporting human rights abuses of the military in Nigeria they were forced out of power.
In some advanced countries, where government care about the well-being of the citizens, the people embark on hunger strikes to order the governments to rescind some actions. Such strategies work in countries where the government provide food for the less privileged ones. For example, a person who has been unjustly detained can go on hunger strike to protest the detention, and to draw sympathy and attention to the issue.
Another way by which individuals and groups can protect human rights abuse is through boycott. In other words, they can mobilize people not to participate in a programme. For example, as electoral malpractices is threatening the credibility the Nigerian elections, human rights organizations can mobilize the public not to participate if government decides not to heed to their calls.
is another way by which human rights can be protected in the country ln a situation where government promulgates a law that can affect the rights of the citizens, some people’s representatives can go ahead to lobby the legislature cancel the law. A good example was when former President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to run for the third term, which was against the doctrine of the rule of law, some notable Nigerians went to lobby against this in the legislative houses and the move was aborted. In the Nigerian constitution, it is entrenched that every government should not spend more than two terms. Any attempt to do this is a violation of the rule of law.
GROUPS THAT ASSIST IN THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Under this section, we shall examine some of the groups that aid the protection of human rights. These groups are the Civil Society Organizations, Trade Unions,Student Union Governments, ethnic groups and religious groups.
There are many religious groups in Nigeria, such as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA), and so on, they protect the rights of their members. If any member of these groups feels cheated, they quickly take the case up and fight until there is a resolution.
Civil Society Organizations
Examples of Civil Society Organizations are Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), the Civil Right Projects (CRP), Save Nigeria Group, among others. All these associations defend the rights of the people. For instance, it was the Save Nigeria Group that organized the protest against the fuel subsidy removal in January 2012 in Freedom Square, Ojota, Lagos.
These are association of workers, which are established to protect the rights of their members. When the rights of any member or the entire group are tampered with, the union fights on behalf of its member to claim their right. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is an example of a trade union.