The Parliament of the United Kingdom (UK) has officially responded to an online petition signed by about 219,743 people asking for sanctions to be imposed against the government of Nigeria and police officials due to their being complicit in SARS-related human rights violations.
In its response to the petition titled: “Implement sanctions against the Nigerian Government and officials,” the UK Parliament said it will consider the petition for a debate, as it considers “all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.”
The Parliament would however have to wait for about 22 days for a debate date on the petition can be set. The statement went on to say that their attention had been brought to many reports of atrocities committed by the Nigerian police force unit (SARS). Some of the complaints about this unit borders on involvement in illegal activities and human rights abuses among others. The Parliamnet also went on to state that they have taken note of reports of police firing at peaceful protestors calling for the corrupt SARS unit to be disbanded.
“Deploying sanctions would provide accountability for and be a deterrent to anyone involved in violations of human rights,” it said.
The UK new ‘Magnitsky’- style sanctions regime usually targets individuals, entities or officials who have been deemed to be complicit in some of the gravest human rights abuses. In a related incident, the UK Government on Wednesday November 11, said that it was concerned with incidents of violence against peaceful citizens who were exercising their fundamental human rights to protest.
“We were concerned by violence during recent protests and await the outcome of Nigerian investigations into reports of police brutality. We do not publicly speculate on future sanctions designations,” the British Government said in a statement issued by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
“The UK Government is deeply concerned by violence during recent protests in Nigeria, which tragically claimed lives. Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected,” it said. The statement added that the Foreign Secretary stated on October 21 calling for an end to the violence and for the Nigerian Government to urgently investigate reports of brutality by its security forces and hold those responsible to account.
“The Minister for Africa tweeted on 16 October, noting the Nigerian people’s democratic and peaceful calls for reforms, and again on 21 October, encouraging the Nigerian authorities to restore peace and address concerns over brutality towards civilians. “He reiterated these messages when he spoke to Foreign Minister Onyeama on 23 October. The British High Commissioner in Abuja has also raised the protests with representatives of the Nigerian Government and will continue to do so,” it said.
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