The United National Development Programme Nigeria (UNDP) resident on Monday, called for the intervention of stakeholders in preventing the increase in violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
The UNDP Nigeria resident representative, Mr Simon Ridley stated this while speaking in Abuja at the second sitting of the Special Investigation Panel on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
Ridley, who was worried about the increasing cases of gender-based violence in the country, said intervention by stakeholders would help in preventing the escalating numbers of cases, due to Covid-19 and its effect on survivors.
He said, despite concentrated efforts, there is an increase in reports of SGBV and human rights violations since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a report by UNFPA, he said for every three months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million extra cases of gender-based violence are expected across the globe.
The UNDP resident representative said recovery from the impact of Covid-19 requires support and strengthening of capacities of human rights defenders and law enforcement officers and to seek justice against violators and perpetrators.
He said, “There is a need for key actors from all sectors of society to come together for effective defence of victims of gender-based violence.”
Ridley, who said, providing access to justice for gender-based violence is important in securing relief at the individual level also made case for the development of clear guidelines for raids and investigations in the country by law enforcement agencies to serve as best practices while identifying victims and survivors of SGBV to ensure adequate remedy and accountability for them.
Earlier in his speech, the Executive Sectary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Tony Ojukwu said the special investigation panel was birthed following the request by the office of the Vice President on the Commission to take immediate steps to arrest the growing scourge of SGBV in the country.
Ojukwu said the presidential directive was a sequel to the public outrage and condemnation sparked by several incidences of brazing and gruesome dimension of SGBV in the country.
“Chief amongst these was the infamous raids of night clubs by armed security personnel, led by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and the FCT joint task force in pursuits of prostitutes with its attendant allegations of rape, sexual harassment, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
“Others included the cases of little Ochanya in Benue state, the BBC documentary on sex for grades in the University of Lagos, gruesome rape and murder of Uwa in Edo state.
The panel, according to the NHRC boss is expected to hear complaints and investigate alleged acts of violation of human rights, identify individuals directly responsible for any violations and abuses and make recommendations for further actions, including, but not limited to prosecutions, disciplinary proceedings and damages.
In the first round and pre-covid sittings, the panel considered 114 cases in six locations across five geopolitical zones, with exception of the North East.
In the second round and post Covid-19 sittings held in Enugu, Ebonyi, Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Sokoto, Adamawa and Abuja, a total of 161 cases was handled while the panel, in its second Abuja sitting which commenced on Monday, will be considering 32 cases before the end of its sitting on 15, April 2021.
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