The Consul General of the US in Lagos, Claire Pierangelo, says it is imperative to empower and encourage local leaders in order to protect citizens rights.
The Consul General made this remark on Tuesday at the 2019 Human Rights Conference held at the US Consulate in Lagos in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the day is set aside to celebrate the December 10, 1948 adoption by the UN General Assembly of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to Pierangelo, international days are occasions to educate the public on topical issues, mobilise political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate achievements of humanity.
Discussions at the conference revolved around the importance of human rights to peace and development in Nigeria and the role of state governments in promoting and protecting human rights.
The Consul General said that the US Government champions human rights because when rights are protected, countries are stronger, more stable and more prosperous.
She said: “As a demonstration of our commitment, every year, the State Department has produced the Human Rights Report to document and evaluate the human rights situation in almost every country.
“Over the years, this report has identified human rights violations and pushed governments to protect and respect the rights of people, and where violations occur, to hold those responsible accountable.”
Pierangelo said some of the issues documented in Nigeria over the years included substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; unlawful and arbitrary killings; and lack of accountability concerning violence against women, amongst other issues.
She said: “We hope that our reports will continue to cause oppressive regimes to honour human rights in places where those voices are often silenced.”
She added that the US had a strong bilateral relationship with Nigeria and will continue to work with the government to strengthen her democratic institutions.
Pierangelo said: “Promoting and protecting human rights is everyone’s responsibility.
“Let us do our part in making sure that Nigeria is a country where people are free to exercise their rights without repercussion.”