The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to ban Nigerian officials, polit
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to ban Nigerian officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of violence during yesterday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria.
SERAP also urged Biden to block or revoke the visas of anyone suspected to be responsible for cases of intimidation, harassment and violence during the elections, and to impose asset freezes and property sanctions on them and their families.
There were reports of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence in some states of the country, including in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, Edo, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, and Taraba states, and Abuja.
In a letter dated February 25, 2023 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said that the imposition targeted sanctions against suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence in the country would promote accountability, end impunity, and deter human rights violations.
SERAP also noted that it would help to stop further violence before, during and after elections, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage the people to exercise their right to vote.
The letter, read in part: “The recommended travel bans, asset freezes and property sanctions should also cover anyone who may perpetrate and sponsor violence and human rights crimes during the postponed elections in 141 polling units, and the governorship elections scheduled for March 2023.
“SERAP welcomes your government’s publicly expressed commitment to impose visa restrictions on officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence. We urge you to include asset freezes and property sanctions on the list.”
Giving serious consideration to our recommendations and promptly implementing them would give meaning to this commitment, and demonstrate the willingness of your government to support and strengthen democracy, citizens’ participation and the rule of law, as well as end a culture of election-related violence in Nigeria.
“SERAP notes that presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 underscore the US ‘enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law’, which requires that its Government be able to ensure that the US does not become a safe haven for suspected violators of human rights, including election-related intimidation, harassment and violence.
“The proclamations also aim to help the US authorities to secure peace, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, and strengthen democracies around the globe.
“Significantly, the presidential proclamations underscore that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of certain persons who are suspected to be involved in serious violations of human rights.
Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, officials and politicians and other suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those who directly or indirectly undermine democracy in Nigeria.
“Under these provisions, certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions. Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including before, during and after the elections which took place on 25 February 2023 may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.
“SERAP urges you to apply the presidential proclamations, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act as instruments of foreign policy to promote targeted sanctions against officials, politicians and other suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election violence.
“Applying these instruments would also end election-related intimidation, harassment and violence, and facilitate equivalent visa bans, asset freezes and property sanctions in other globally desirable locations as well.”