Economic human rights need to take centre stage before civil and political rights can be truly meaningful for the millions of people living in dire poverty
Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (widely known as the Banjul Charter), states: ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.’
Is this guarantee meaningful to a person lacking access to adequate healthcare and livelihood? Does the right to free speech mean much to somebody that is too hungry and too weak to speak? And of what use is the right to privacy and human dignity (integrity) to a homeless slum dweller who is repeatedly evicted from their shack without being provided with alternative shelter? These are the sort of questions Spaces for Change|S4C often contends with at the community outreaches, town halls and legal clinics it organises in rural communities and urban slums across Nigeria.
In spite of the numerous setbacks, human rights advocates and organisations are not relenting in the fight for greater legal recognition and protection of ESC rights.