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Cablegate: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: Nigeria

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 03 STATE 333935

1. The following is Mission Nigeria's submission for the
2003-4 edition of the Supporting Human Rights and Democracy:
the U.S. Record.

Begin text. Nigeria held multiparty general elections in
2003, the second since the end of military rule in 1998,
returning President Obasanjo to another four-year term
despite allegations of electoral misconduct. Nigeria remains
"Africa's essential country, with influence far beyond its
borders." The United States remains a key partner for
Nigeria's reformers, and we have helped Nigeria reach a
number of human rights milestones despite ongoing major
problems. Years of authoritarian misrule diminished or
destroyed most national institutions, and corruption has
rotted the civil service and most parastatals. Nigeria is
beset by religious and ethnic divisions, all too often
violent, and its Government sometimes has been as much a part
of the problems as of the solutions. Our major priorities
have been: to assist consolidation of democracy and
improvements in its effectiveness and transparency; to
strengthen civil society participation in governance
processes; to work closely with the government and civil
society to improve their ability to monitor, manage and
prevent human rights abuses nationwide and communal conflict
in areas of known ethnic or religious tension; and to reduce
and remedy trafficking in persons.

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During this election year, the Embassy has been a staunch
advocate of democratic processes and reforms inside and
outside the Nigerian government. The Embassy has reported on
numerous human rights abuses committed by security forces,
and helped human rights organizations and the media more
effectively play their roles in democracy. INL continued its
train-the-trainers program on police reform with three 4-week
programs to improve the professionalism, responsibility and
performance of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). Human rights,
including such topics as excessive use of force and
extrajudicial killings, were a major focus. INL also managed
a 6-month program for 500 new NPF recruits, that included
training on Human Rights and Law Enforcement, Community
Policing, and the proper use of force.

The Embassy has worked long and hard to help Nigeria improve
the professionalism of its military, the military's respect
for human rights, and all Nigerians' appreciation and support
for civilian rule. Congress has put sanctions on military
aid to Nigeria, a loss of over 6.8 million dollars, in
response to the massacre of approximately 200 civilians in
Benue State in 2001 by the Nigerian army. Secretary Powell
and Assistant Secretary Kansteiner added personal demarches
this year to a continuing Embassy campaign of pressing the
Nigerian Government to hold a proper and honest
investigation, and to punish the responsible parties. The
Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) sponsored a Defense
Institute of International Legal Studies seminar for Nigerian
military and civilian leaders with a focus on human rights,
international law, rules of engagement and civilian control
of the military. ODC continued to sponsor a high-level
program at the Ministry of Defense (MOD), to teach proper
civil-military relations and assist in the reorganization of
the MOD.

The Embassy has worked with civil society, political parties
and the media in an effort to strengthen democracy and the
rule of law. The Embassy itself played an active observer
role at the political party conventions, at all levels of the
elections in multiple states, and at tribunals looking into
allegations of election fraud. We provided training to civil
society and gave speeches in numerous fora to encourage it to
play more effective roles in policy advocacy and government
oversight. We worked with political parties to widen the
participation of the general public, particularly women, in
the political process. We also assisted government
officials, political and social leaders to understand the
issues underlying violent conflicts in their areas, and to
formulate strategies to resolve the conflicts.

USAID committed $3 million to improving governance in 2003.
One focus was to strengthen the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC), professionalize political
parties, and train polling agents and election monitors. A
National Information Center was established for civil society
to transmit "real time" data from nearly 12,000 domestic
monitors. USAID also funded Islamic women's groups to serve
as election monitors for the first time, with more than 1800
monitors. Aid to State Assemblies trained staff in technical
and procedural matters; 56 new pieces of legislation were
passed nationwide for legislative management, implementing
constitutional requirements, and improving core development
issues such as infrastructure, social services, conflict
mitigation and security. USAID-trained legislative
associates (interns) were embedded in State Assemblies, and
the National Assembly assumed management of its USG-funded
computer resources center. The Embassy's Public Affairs
Section made two Funds for Civic Education program grants for
public education in democratization and civil rights.

The Embassy is expanding its efforts to make rule of law more
effective, working with Nigerian courts to improve case
management and judicial ethics, and building the
investigative capacity and independence of Nigerian
government agencies charged with investigating corruption and
monitoring procurement. USAID committed $1.25 million in
judicial strengthening activities to improve management and
dissemination of court information, codify judicial ethics,
and expand public access to justice through Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ADR). Nigeria's second multi-purpose ADR
Center in Abuja will offer civil mediation and arbitration
services. We helped Chief Judges in pilot state
jurisdictions create new bar/bench management committees that
helped produce timely and accurate judicial reports, shorten
the time between litigation, settlement and final
disposition, and reduce the number of appeals based upon
recording inaccuracies. Judges from three pilot
jurisdictions unanimously ratified a "Code of Conduct for its
Court Employees," requiring employees to be accountable for
resources; protect confidential information; avoid the
appearance of impropriety; refrain from using their position
for personal enrichment; and, uphold high standards of

The Embassy funded several Democracy and Human Rights Fund
(DHRF) projects to encourage respect for the rights of women.
In the North, we worked with a local NGO to create radio
programs promoting the empowerment and education of Muslim
women. We also sponsored a televised docudrama aired
nationwide to educate viewers about the problem of domestic
violence. We continued working with a domestic NGO to
educate policymakers in three states on introducing
legislation for the eradication of female genital mutilation.
The Public Affairs Section's International Visitors Program,
with input from several different sections of the Mission,
sent representatives from Nigeria's civil society, government
and media to a wide range of U.S. programs, notably conflict
resolution, NGO management, empowerment of women, trafficking
issues, and Islam in America.

The Embassy worked extensively on the problem of
inter-religious violence and religious freedom, meeting with
national and local political and religious leaders on
multiple occasions to gain a better understanding of the
problems and to advocate resolution. Embassy officers gave
speeches across the country calling for reconciliation, and
travelled extensively to work with state officials and Muslim
and Christian leaders on promoting peace and ending
discrimination. USAID committed $1.044 million to support a
range of conflict management and peace-building activities,
including sponsoring a Christian Pastor and Islamic Imam from
Kaduna at a peace-building course at the School of
International Training in Vermont in 2003. The two leaders
then trained members of the Kaduna Peace Committee, and USAID
paid for radio and television programs where the Pastor and
Imam could discuss conflict issues in Kaduna and Kano. In
2004 the Pastor and Imam received the prestigious Common
Ground Award from the well known NGO, Search for Common
Ground, in recognition of the success of their peacemaking

Elsewhere in Nigeria, USAID's "Basketball for Peace" Program
engaged unemployed and out-of-school Muslim and Christian
youth in basketball tournaments to create competition without
violence, a program which gained national attention.
Concerns about the implementation of new laws based on
Shari'a (Islamic justice) in several Nigerian states led
USAID partners to establish the Shari'a Stakeholders
Consultative Group. The Group served as both rule of law
advocate and information source in the landmark Amina Lawal
adultery/capital crime case. USAID and the Embassy have
funded various programs to help bring peace to the oil-rich
Niger delta, where inter-communal violence has killed dozens
and displaced thousands of Nigerians.

Finally, the Embassy has taken a very active role in helping
Nigeria combat trafficking in persons, including a $2.3
million commitment from the State Department. The Department
of Justice provided another $350,000 from its International
Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP)
and Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and
Training (OPDAT) program to train prosecutors, law
enforcement, and judicial officials -- training which also
forwards our rule of law and anti-corruption interests. An
additional $500,000 from ESF supports two rehabilitation
shelters for victims of trafficking. The Department of Labor
provided financial backing for the International Labor
Organization's "Program to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child
Labor," and USAID committed Development Assistance to
anti-trafficking programs. USG officials traveled to Nigeria
in 2003 to help raise public awareness, meet with government
officials, law enforcement, and NGOs. The Embassy's Public
Affairs Section published magazine articles on trafficking in
women and children, and held a televised discussion forum on
Trafficking in Persons with officials of the Human Rights
Commission, the Police Service Commission, human rights
advocacy groups, the Federation of International Women
Lawyers, national legislators, and journalists. End text.

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