CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF THE DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE COURSE OF NATURAL DISASTERS IN NIGERIA

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CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF THE DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE COURSE OF NATURAL DISASTERS IN NIGERIA

Abstract:

The overwhelming increase of Internally Displaced Persons in situation of natural disaster in Nigeria in recent years has become an issue of grave concern. More worrisome is the fact that these persons are often victims of violations of human rights. Their plights have increased tremendously nowadays constituting a serious challenge of national and global implications. To address this problem, a myriad of legal, institutional and policy framework both at national international level have been enacted. This dissertation critically reviewed the rights of the displaced persons in the course of natural disasters in Nigeria. To achieve this, a doctrinal method was adopted for this research. Being a library oriented method of research, materials from both primary and secondary sources were analysed. The primary sources include information from national and international legal instruments as well as local and foreign judicial decisions on protection of the rights of IDPs. While the secondary sources include books, journals, articles, newspapers and internet materials. At the national level, it was found that there is no specific legal framework with the particular objective of assisting and protecting the rights of IDPs especially in situations of natural disasters in Nigeria. It was also found that the institutions for the protection of IDPs in Nigeria like NEMA and NHRC are not independent and does not have the financial and logistical capability to meaningfully function effectively. They seem to be in a more precarious position, being controlled directly or indirectly, by the government through funding, composition of membership, provision of operational guidelines, and tenure of officers among others. While at the international level, the Guiding Principles on IDPs are not legally binding document consequently, states cannot be held accountable if they disregard them and that they cannot be invoked in legal proceedings at the domestic level. Thus, states‘ compliance with the guiding principles is purely voluntary. Secondly, International humanitarian law apply only to internally displaced persons in situations of conflict. Against this background, the dissertation recommends, among others, that government needs to enact a specific justiciable legislation that would answer to the peculiar needs of IDPs in the country, particularly those relating to the provision of permanent shelters, well equipped medical facilities, safe drinking water, and schools among others. The National Policy on IDPs is not just enough particularly because of its non-binding nature. The government also needs to effectively address the problem of capacity building, adequate funding and of NEMA (including SEMA and LEMA) and NHRC. This way, NEMA would not only have the capacity to effectively address the overwhelming magnitude of internally displaced persons in the country, but also have adequate resources at its disposal to assist displaced persons for a longer period of time or to assist returnees. In the same vein, this would enable the NHRC to live up to its responsibilities as the nation‘s institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights particularly, those of the internally displaced persons and the Guiding Principles on IDPs needs to be revisited. There is the need to make it a legally binding document. This way, states that have domesticated or adopted it, can be held accountable if they refused to comply with its provisions. Finally, both the International humanitarian law and International Human Rights Law need to be reviewed through additional protocols to extend their application from situation of conflicts to those of non-conflict or natural disaster. This is important given the rate at which natural disasters raining raining havoc on human societies causing many to flee their homes

CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF THE DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE COURSE OF NATURAL DISASTERS IN NIGERIA

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