DOCUMENTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE AGE OF INTERNET IN AFRICA
The aim of this research work was to carry out an evaluation on documenting human rights violations in the age of internet in Africa. This work was designed to establish and digest as well as discover the extent human rights violations has been properly documented in Africa with the instrumentality of the internet In accomplishing the sett objectives, the researcher employed the survey research design to general doola from respondents. A total number of four hundred (400) copies of questionnaire were distributed and they were all retrieved. The returned. The returned copies were therefore analyzed using simple percentages, table and the chi-square formula. The findings showed that the stakeholders in the media industries have come to understand the usefulness of the internet and have subsequently utilized it to report as well as document issues of human rights violation. This has helped people to know their rights and also reduce the incidences of human rights violations. Part of the recommendations of this is that more effort should be made towards ensuring that information about human rights violations are made readily available and accessible all and sundry.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Human right have been described as the basic rights of a citizen of a country. They are the inalienable rights that people have so as not to be treated unfairly or cruelly especially by the government. Human rights are recognized globally, by every democratic nation. The observance of these rights is one of the basic criteria for a nation to belong to the international organizations.
According to A.U Obingene and W.C Okonkwo in principles of government and politics in Nigeria (2008) P.177 “Fundamental human rights are the basic socio-economic, political and moral principles of just and fair treatment of the individual person or groups, generally arrived at by experience, common sense and some consensus, and confirmable either y municipal law and or international dreaties and conventions, all of which are influenced by the stage of human development, diverse interest and ideologies.
According to Glendon (2002) P.42, the universal declaration of human right was adopted by the united nations general assembly on 10th December 1948 at paris. This aroused directing from the experience of the second world war and represented the first global expression of rights to which all human being are inherently entitled.
In Nigeria, the basic human rights are enshrined in 1999 constitution which includes right to life, right to personal liberty, right to fair hearing, right to freedom of expression and the press, freedom of religion and right to dignity of human person. Nigeria as a nation have witnessed a fluctuating trend in the observance of human rights. This is a direct off short of the various interventions by the military the polity, under a successions of military leaders but most notably under Gen Sani Abacha whose death in 1998 paved the way routinely sponsored by government using the army as the guardians of law and order (home office 2004 P.6).
There are also cases of infringement on citizens privacy, restriction of freedom of speech, press, religion and movement, official corruption, violence and discrimination against women; killing of children suspected of witchcraft, female genital mutilation (FGM); child abuse and child sexual exploitation; societal violence; discrimination against persons with disabilities; widowhood practices.
The mass media which serves as a watchdog of the society consist of various means by which information reaches to a large number of people such as television, Radio, movies, Newspaper and internet, mass media is a significant force in modern culture. Sociologist refers to this as a mechated culture. Most recently the internet has increased the wide spread of information dissemination and have dominated the other mass medium such as the radio, television, newspaper, magazine etc.
The internet have assisted in reporting and documenting of human right issues in Nigeria and even beyond. Prior to the twenty first century, people who are violated were hand caped that they cannot tell people that they have been violated, rapped or even beaten. But with the advent of internet cases of human right violations can be easily accessed and reported without stress or hinge.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The issue of human right violations is very critical in our society. Everybody under a democratic dispensation is protected by the constitution. However, there are still cases of violations and infringement on people’s right. The internet as a mass medium is expected to uncover cases of infringement and violations on the fundamental rights of the citizens. The problem under investigation is the internet report and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria. Another thing is to examine whether the internet reporting and documentation of human right abuses has helped in reducing human right violations in Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
i. To find out whether the internet has helped in reporting and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria.
ii. To know the categories of human right issues that is reported by the internet.
iii. To find out whether the government has influence on the nature of human right reports by the internet in Nigeria.
iv. To discover whether ethnicity plays an influencing role in internet coverage on human right issues in Nigeria.
v. To find out whether internet reporting and documentation of human right issues in Nigeria have helped to reduce human right abuses in Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is the keep the society abreast with the knowledge of how to cooperate with the internet reporters in exposing human right violations in Nigeria. It will also enlighten the society on their rights, and what the constitution said concerning the violations of those rights.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. Has the internet really helped in reporting and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria.
ii. What re the nature of stories on human right issues that are reported by the internet.
iii. Does the government influence affect the nature of human right reports by the internet.
iv. Does ethnicity play an influencing role I reporting and coverage of human right issues by the internet in Nigeria
v. Do people really report human right violations in Nigeria, and how.
vi. Has the internet report on human right actually helped to reduce human right abuse in Nigeria.
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
On the process of giving vivid explanation on the extent the internet has helped in reporting and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria, the following hypothesis have been drawn.
Hi: The internet have helped in reporting and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria.
Ho: The internet have not helped in the reporting and documentation of human right violations in Nigeria.
Hi: The internet reports have helped to reduce human right violations in Nigeria.
Ho: The internet have reports have not helped to reduce human right violations in Nigeria.
Hi: Government influence affects the nature of human right reports by internet reporters by internet reporters in Nigeria.
Ho: government influence does not affect the nature of human right reports by internet reporters in Nigeria.
Hi: Ethnicity have an influence, on the coverage and reporting of human right violations in Nigeria.
Ho: Ethnicity does not have influence on the coverage and reporting of human right violations in Nigeria.
1.7 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Theory is defined as a systematic and logical statement of how phenomena are related to one another. It is systematic because it comects different concept or phenomena and gives us reason why they are connected. For the basis of this study, the researcher will make use of two communication theories:
i. Libertarians theory
ii. Social responsibility
The libertarian theory as being propounded by loa Tzzu, John Locke, John Stuart Mill among others is abased on the right of an individual and advocates absence of restraint. This theory states that man is no longer conceived as a dependent being to be led and directed but rather as a rational being able to discern between truth and falsehood, between worse situation or alternative when faced with conflicting evidence and alternative choices.
In 1879, the French in their declaration of the rights of man wrotes “every citizen may speak, write and publish freely”. Out of such doctrine came the “Free market place of idea”. Social responsibility theory can be traced to the Hutchins commission on the freedom of the press. This commission was setup in the united states of America in 1947 to reconsider the idea of press freedom as propounded by the libertarian theorists. Thus therefore holds that this theory expects obligations on the party of the media to the society.
The purpose of this theory is the ensure that he press should be open to anyone with something to say. In view of the various prepositions and tenets of the social responsibility theory, it is the responsibility of the media, inline with their traditional function to keep surveillance of the society. The coverage of human rights is the sole responsibility of the media. The media should keep the public abreast with the issues of violations and abuses of human rights as to forestall incidencies of arbitrary infringement on the rights of citizens.
1.8 SCOPE OF STUDY
The scope of this study on internet report on human right violations in Nigeria.
To ascertain whether the internet has helped in reporting and documentation of human right issues in Nigeria.
To also find out the nature of stories that are being reported.
1.9 LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
This study in meant to cover the whole of Nigeria. But as a result of financial constraint and lack of time the researcher is limiting the research to Enugu Urban residence.
The time frame for the completion and submission of this work is not sufficient enough to carry out the study more effective.
The researcher is combining the study with other academic activities so she could not give full concentration and attention to it. However, these constraints will not affect the validity of the of the result of this study.
1.10 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The major terms that formed the basis of this study were defined conceptually and operationally. Amongst them are:
Conceptual definition: To document means to keep record of materials or information’s for posterity.
Operational definition: For this purpose of this research, we shall be looking at documentation from the point of view of reporting and documentation of human right violations.
Conceptual definition: Internet is a global network connecting millions of computers.
Operational definition: Internet is a mass medium that is basically for the coverage and reporting of human right violations in Nigeria.
Conceptual definition: Basic fundamental rights of citizens.
Operational definition: Human right means in this context the privilege giving to a person because he is a citizen of the country.
Conceptual definition: To break an agreement or treat something or somebody with disrespect.
Operational definition: Infringement or abuse of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Agbo, B; Ojobor, I., C Ezinwa, C (2010). Issues in development communication. Enugu John Jacobs publishers.
Eze, M.A., (2011). Fundamentals of communication Theories (2nd ed). Enugu de-verge Agencies
Home office (2004, Nov. 2), report on human right issues in Nigeria. Joint British- Danish Nigeria. Abuja Danish immigration service. Bureau of democracy, human Rights, and labour (2011, April 8).
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