Studying International Law and Human Rights to Fight against Human Rights Abuse in Nigeria

Violet Andrew Saliu

My name is Violet Andrew Saliu, I am Nigerian. I hold a B.A in international relations from Cyprus International University, Cyprus, an M.A in Diplomacy and International Relations from Vytatus Magnus University Lithuania, and currently I am pursuing an M.A in international law and human rights at University of Tartu, Estonia. Nigeria is the most populous country in African, with a population of over 200 million people. However, it lagged in the aspect of the promotion and protection of human rights. Frequently, there are cases of violation of human rights in the Nigeria society, and there is equally a scarcity of human rights lawyers because of constant frustration they are faced with from different religious groups, communities and the failed legal system in the country. In addition, most lawyers cannot stomach the tragedies they generally experience daily during their career.

Following my B.A in International Relations from Cyprus, I returned to Nigeria to participate in a one-year compulsory national youth service corps (NYSC). I was assigned to a public high school to teach in the rural south-south region of Nigeria as my primary assignment, and during this period, I became aware of firsthand cases of human rights violation, as majority of my students lived with their guardians and were mostly house helps or maids. Of which, the majority were females. As time went on they became comfortable enough to share their experience during a sensitization program on basic human rights, and most of them spoke up about the issues they are faced with back home such as sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, rape and other human rights abuse. Upon listening to all this different stories and experiences, it drove me into wanting to do more than just listen but make a difference in the society and help protect and defend the rights of people both young and old, male or female in my immediate society. For the above reasons, I decided it would be my service to humanity to study international law and human rights, as it provides an opportunity to advance my knowledge and skills, and thus contribute to the progress of humanity and the consolidation of the values of human rights in the world and especially in Nigeria. For instance, in schools, corporate organizations, markets and homes.

Although, human rights is a profession with considerable opportunity, but then you realize that some human rights lawyer leaves because they could not take it. Sadly, some societies and communities still frown at the idea of fundamental human rights, because of certain deeply rooted cultural and religious values in some part of the country. However, I am constantly encouraged by the fact that my job is to help them see the light and have faith in the justice system, so they know that their voice is heard, and they will get justice and be able to move on and live without fear.

Becoming a human rights lawyer/activist will provide me with the skills to educate young boys and girls, parents and guardians about human rights and the need to protect these rights. Additionally, I will be able to inform them about the importance of education. Because it provides most especially the girl child the opportunity to get educated about their rights and how these rights should be exercise, protected and the need to respect the rights of others. Indeed, when children are presented the opportunity to seek education, they will understand their fundamental human rights and the need to speak up when their rights are violated, as well as help to hold the abuser accountable for their crimes and face the consequences of their crime before the Law.

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