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SERAP urges Trump to sanction governors jailing journalists, others

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday asked United States President Donald Trump to temporarily ban Nigerian governors and other senior public officials misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists reporting on allegations of corruption from entering the U.S.

The Lagos-based rights group, in an open letter, asked Trump to exercise his constitutional powers “pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697” by instructing the U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador in Nigeria to do so.

SERAP also urged Trump to “use the Presidential Proclamation 8697 (which allows the U.S. Department of State to deny visas to foreign officials, their families and friends) who participate in serious human rights violations and other abuses such as misusing the criminal justice system to jail journalists, bloggers and activists to prevent them from reporting on allegations of corruption and other related cases.”

The letter followed SERAP’s report entitled ‘A Downward Spiral: How Federal and State Authorities are Tightening the Screws on Media Freedom in Nigeria’ launched today in Lagos.

In the letter dated October 30, 2019 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stated: “Democracy demands ‘maximum disclosure’ of all government-held information, and this won’t happen without respect for media freedom and the citizens’ rights to know.

“Undue restrictions on media freedom and the right to know would imply nothing short of abrogation of the ideals of democracy and good governance. Citizens’ right to know is vital for social welfare and other human rights.”

Media freedom and the right of citizens to know, the group added, constitute a crucial bulwark of democracy.“It is essential that for the general progress of a democratic society if people are to effectively monitor their governments’ affairs and democratically participate in the running of society, they must have access to government-held information, which the media should be allowed to freely report.”

SERAP’s report documented the increasing cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest, detention and death of journalists, bloggers and other media workers while carrying out their legitimate work.


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