Lawyers Assisting Workers Urge Nigerian Government To Ratify International Labour Organisation Convention

The Nigerian Chapter of International Lawyers Assisting Workers has urged government to speedily ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 190 on Violence and Harassment.

ILAW stated that the ratification provides a framework to prevent, remedy and eliminate violence and harassment in work places including gender-based violence and harassment.

In commemoration of the 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, ILAW in a statement by a senior lawyer, Femi Aborisade, for and on behalf of ILAW (Nigeria), posited that Nigeria would be making history if the ILO Convention No. 190 was promptly ratified. 

An adopted ILO Convention comes into force 12 months after ratification by two member states. 

Convention 190 was adopted in June 2019.

Uruguay became the first country to ratify and as at today, it remains the only country that has ratified the Convention. 

Ratification by Nigeria would make it the second country and would enable the Convention to come into force, 12 months after.

According to Aborisade, in the context of the combined provisions of Article 19(5) of the ILO constitution and Section 254C (2) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ratification of an ILO Convention is an executive function, which excludes the prescribed legislative role of the National Assembly under Section 12(1) of the 1999 constitution.

By Article 19(5) of the ILO constitution, an adopted Convention is to be brought “before the authority or authorities within whose competence the matter lies, for the enactment of legislation or other action”.

He said, “In other words, depending on the legal framework in individual countries, ratification may involve domestic legislation or, alternatively, “other action” by the Executive arm of Government. Under Section 12(1) of the Constitution, international treaties require domestication before they can be acted upon or enforced.

“However, Section 254C(2) of the constitution has made an exception for ILO Conventions by excluding the requirement of prior enactment into law before they can be enforced, provided they are ratified by “other action” of the Executive.”

He added that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria has given judicial approval to the provisions of Section 254C(2) of the constitution, which has neither been challenged nor set aside on appeal.

He noted that if ratified, Nigeria would be importing a framework that will prevent, remedy and eliminate violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment.

“The convention protects everyone who works, irrespective of gender (male or female) or contractual status, i.e. worker or employer.

“This convention protects workers and other persons in the world of work as well as persons working irrespective of their contractual status, persons in training, including interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, job seekers and job applicants, and individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer [Article 2(1)].

“Given the phenomenally rising rate of conflicts, crises, violence, multiple forms of socioeconomic and political tensions, Boko Haram insurgency, abuses in Internally Displaced Persons camps, wanton and arbitrary police killings, and particularly the alarming incidents of rape and killing of rape victims, the most auspicious time to ratify Convention 190 is now,” Aborisade said.

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