Enugu: UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asked to investigate unlawful detention of Clara Chime

Two civil society groups, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Women Advocate Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) have petitioned Mr. El Hadji Malick SOW, Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, asking him “to urgently investigate allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mrs Clara Chime, by her husband, Mr Sullivan Chime who is the governor of Enugu State of Nigeria.”

The groups requested the Chair-Rapporteur to “issue an Urgent Appeal to the governor and the Nigerian government to release her from unlawful detention without further delay.”

According to the groups, “The continuing restriction and violation of Mrs Chime’s rights also constitutes violence against women especially given the physical and psychological suffering she is currently facing.”

In the petition dated 8 November 2013 and sent through the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office, Mrs Navi Pillay, the groups said that, “Mrs Chime is not known to have committed any criminal offence, and the deprivation of her liberty has continued to affect her physically and emotionally, as well as seriously undermine her other internationally recognized human rights.

This deprivation and compulsory confinement is not in conformity with international human rights standards, and cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever.”

“By restricting the movement of Mrs Chime and limiting her right to liberty, we strongly believe that her internationally recognized right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including the right to medical care in functioning public health and healthcare facilities, is seriously being violated,” the groups also stated.

According to the groups, “We believe that the importance given to the “underlying determinants of health”, that is, the factors and conditions which protect and promote the right to health of individuals, shows that unless other rights like the right to liberty, freedom of movement and the principle of non-discrimination, the right to health can be compromised.”

The petition signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni for SERAP, and Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi for WARDC, also stated that, “The rights to liberty and to health are necessary for a life in dignity. This right is clearly recognized under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights both of which Nigeria has ratified. In its 1946 Constitution, the World Health Organization (WHO), defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

According to the groups, “The right to health includes the right to a system of health protection, to prevention, and treatment and access to essential medicines. The “underlying determinants of health” include freedom of movement and liberty, the right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment, and to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

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