Commonwealth Games 2014 - No to Nigeria
Corruption & human rights abuses make Abuja unfit to host Games.
London - 7 November 2007
"It would be wrong for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Nigeria, given the country's serious human rights abuses, widespread corruption and flawed elections," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
This Friday, 9 November, the Commonwealth Games Federation will announce whether the Nigerian city of Abuja or the Scottish city of Glasgow have been chosen to host the 2014 Games.
"I would love an African country to host the games, but not Nigeria. Awarding Abuja the games would reward bad governance, grave social injustices and the denial of civil rights to millions of Nigerians," added Mr Tatchell.
"Nigeria should be offered the 2018 Games, on the condition that within the next three years it makes serious progress on eradicating corruption, election fraud and human rights violations.
"Nigerian human rights abuses include torture, murder, child labour and trafficking, media censorship and the suppression of strikes and student protests. There is also serious exploitation and victimisation of ethnic minorities, especially the indigenous peoples of the oil-rich Niger Delta; and the persecution of lesbians and gay men, including the death penalty for same-sex relations in the northern Muslim states.
See this Human Rights Watch report on Nigeria:
"Nigeria's appalling human rights abuses contradict the Commonwealth Games ethos of equality, humanity, peace, unity, cooperation and understanding. Until Nigeria radically improves its human rights record, it should be ruled out of consideration as a host for the Commonwealth Games," said Mr Tatchell.
In August, Mr Tatchell was part of a delegation, led by the Nigerian human rights campaigner, Davis Mac-Iyalla, which met Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the CGF headquarters in Piccadilly, London. The delegation urged the CGF to reject Abjua as the 2014 host city on the grounds of Nigeria's poor human rights record.
See delegation photo, taken outside the CGF offices in Piccadilly London:
Left to right: Mike Hersee, Peter Tatchell, Davis Mac-Iyalla and Rev Stephen Coles
This photo is free to use, no credit required.
Briefing on Nigeria's anti-gay policies:
Peter Tatchell reports:
"In many Nigerian states, the maximum penalty for sex between mutually consenting adult men in private is 14 years in prison. In states that have introduced Sharia law, it is death by stoning.
"Violence against LGBT people in Nigeria has increased dramatically, in the wake of attacks on gay people by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce sweeping new anti-gay laws.
"New legislation would have banned same-sex marriage, gay organisations and churches, safer sex advice for gay men, and the advocacy of gay human rights.
"Backed by the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, the anti-gay bill only failed because it ran out of legislative time when the elections were called earlier this year. We fear the bill may be revived. Nigeria is a very threatening, intimidating place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"There will be many lesbian and gay athletes, officials, spectators and reporters at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. They could be at risk of arrest and violence if the Games go ahead in Abuja.
"If Abuja does win the right to host the Commonwealth Games, the Nigerian government must act swiftly to scrap its anti-gay laws and crackdown on homophobic hate crime in order to ensure that the country is a safe, welcoming place for gay and lesbian participants. Without these changes, Nigeria is not a suitable country in which to hold the games."
"Unless the Nigerian government agrees to rapidly improve Nigeria's human rights record, the 2014 Games should not go to Abjua," said Mr Tatchell.
Postscript - 9 November 2007
Abuja loses bid - Commonwealth Games next time?
The Commonwealth Games Federation today awarded the 2014 Games to Glasgow, not Abuja.
Commenting on the decision, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
"While it would have been great for Abuja to host the 2014 Games, sadly Nigeria is not yet ready for that honour, given its appalling record of human rights abuses, corruption, election fraud and environmental destruction.
"Holding the Games in Abuja would have done little to benefit ordinary Nigerians. The main beneficiaries would have been Nigeria's notoriously corrupt business and political elite. They would have made millions out of bribes and kick-backs for construction, TV rights and advertising contracts.
"I hope the Commonwealth Games Federation will now work with Nigeria and other African countries so they can remedy the problems that have prevented them from hosting the Games.
"It is shocking that no African country has ever been awarded the Commonwealth Games. This failing must be rectified so that the hosting of the event becomes truly inclusive," said Mr Tatchell.
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