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Human Rights Lawyers Call On UK Government To Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’

conversion therapy

Human rights lawyers call on UK government to ban ‘conversion therapy’

Leading human rights lawyers and experts have called for swift action to outlaw so-called conversion therapy, which they say is degrading and harmful, and should not be tolerated in a civilised society.

The Forum, chaired by Helena Kennedy QC, says all practices, including prayer, that seek to suppress, “cure” or change sexual orientation or gender identity must be criminalised. There should be no defence that a victim appears to have consented.

“Individuals who seek out conversion practices in the hope of being ‘cured’ are not made aware of the severe psychological harm to which they are exposed, and so cannot give informed consent,” says the Forum’s report, published on Friday.

People who “actively sought out and ‘consented’ to these practices … have since provided evidence of the severe, long-term, negative psychological impact”.

In May, the government announced it would bring forward legislation to ban “conversion therapy” but said it would first hold consultations on the issue. Since pledging to introduce a ban three years ago, it has come under pressure from some faith organisations to exempt prayer on the grounds of religious freedom.

Eighteen senior lawyers, academics, parliamentarians and civil society leaders are signatories to the Forum’s Cooper report, named after the human rights barrister Jonathan Cooper, who died suddenly earlier this month.

It demands a broad definition of conversion practices to prevent loopholes, saying it should cover “any practice that seeks to suppress, ‘cure’ or change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

The report says: “It is vital that the definition implemented is sufficiently broad to effectively capture all forms these practices can take. Legislation must not allow any potential loopholes for individuals and institutions to continue undertaking conversion practices under a modified aim or false pretence.”

It also says that an exemption for religious practices would undermine prohibition. In an article published by the Guardian, Kennedy writes: “The government is undoubtedly under pressure from some religious institutions to severely limit such a ban on the fallacious grounds that it would interfere with religious freedom.”

The report recommends legislation criminalising condemnatory prayer that seeks to suppress or change a person’s identity, but permitting prayer that seeks to help someone come to terms with who they are.

Criminalisation is “essential when dealing with human rights abuses as this draws a clear line as to what acts will and will not be tolerated in a civilised society”, writes Kennedy. Perpetrators should be “left in no doubt that if they continue their harmful practices, they will face the full force of the law”.

The government should implement legislation without delay, she adds. “We question why further consultation is needed – too many lives have already been impacted by this form of abuse and countless more are still at risk.”

According to government research, 7% of LGBT+ people have experienced some form of conversion practice. Campaigners say it causes psychological harm and can drive people to self-harm or suicide.

In the Queen’s speech in May, Boris Johnson’s government said it would legislate to ban “coercive and abhorrent” conversion practices, but pledged to uphold freedom of speech and religious freedom. Some churches and faith leaders say politicians must not be permitted to dictate what people may or may not pray about.

Pray Away focuses in particular on Exodus International, which propelled and popularized the idea that it was possible – and preferable – to change one’s sexual orientation.

But David Walker, the bishop of Manchester, has said faith leaders should face prosecution if they failed to comply with a ban. Activity leading to prosecution should include prayer aimed at changing someone’s sexual orientation, he told the Guardian in June.

Campaigners for LGBT+ rights have warned that plans for government consultations before legislation is laid before parliament will lead to a dangerous delay.

Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on global LGBT+ rights and a member of the Forum, said: “The continued delay casts doubt over the government’s good intentions and Global Britain’s leadership on LGBT rights.

“These recommendations can and should be implemented without delay, for whilst we wait countless lives are being impacted, as it implies the UK thinks it is alright to try and ‘fix’ anyone’s sexuality and gender identity … Further government prevarication is no longer defensible.”

Almost two-thirds of British adults believe conversion practices should be banned, according to a YouGov survey earlier this year. The Royal College of Psychiatrists supports a ban, saying conversion practices are “unacceptable and harmful”.

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24yr- old man arrested for being in possession of fake Naira notes

Police Operatives serving in Abakaliki (AI) Road Police Division of the Enugu State Command on April 10 arrested one Mmaduabuchi Okonkwo, 24, of Mkpologu, Emene, Enugu, at the Old IMT Bus Stop, Abakaliki Road, Enugu.

The suspect’s arrest is the sequel to his alleged possession and transaction of counterfeited Naira notes. A total of forty thousand Naira (₦40,000.00) suspected counterfeited one thousand denominated Naira notes were recovered from him.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect boarded a minibus from New Haven Junction to Old IMT Bus Stop, Enugu, and gave the driver one of the counterfeited notes.

The driver, however, scrutinized and observed that the currency was fake, thereby raising an alarm that led to the suspect’s arrest.

Upon interrogation, the suspect confessed to having paid the sum of twenty-five thousand (₦25,000.00) genuine Naira notes to his cohort at large for the counterfeited Naira notes worth fifty thousand Naira (₦50,000.00)

He further confessed to having spent ten thousand Naira (₦10,000.00) out of the fake notes, remaining the forty thousand Naira (₦40,000.00) that was recovered from him.

Confirming his arrest, the spokesperson of the command, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, says the suspect will be arraigned and prosecuted once investigations are concluded.

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Niger Govt arrests over 30 illegal miners

Oyo Govt To Clampdown

The Niger State Ministry for Minerals Resources has disclosed the arrest of over 30 illegal miners at various locations, despite the ban on illegal mining in the state.

It also debunked the alleged killing of one person at an illegal mining site in Minna during a clash between restive youth groups last Friday.

The state Commissioner for Minerals Resources, Garba Yahaya Sabo, said the arrests were made from January to date across various mining sites in the state.

He explained that the Ministry has been given the mandate to protect, arrest and stop all illegal mining activities by miners, adding that those interested in mining must register with the state government so as to create employment as well as boost revenue generation.

Sabo, who lamented the lack of adequate manpower to help monitor activities of the illegal miners at mining sites, however, said desk officers will be stationed to keep an eye on mining locations across the 25 LGAs in order to keep the Ministry abreast with every development in the sector.

“Many of these illegal miners are criminals and their activities can pose serious security threat to the people of the state.

“Whenever, we chase them out of the mining sites during the day, these illegal miners usually gather again during the night under the pretense of mining gold and during such periods, launch out to commit various crimes in the state,” he revealed.

The commissioner also denied reports that a youth was killed at Maitumbi illegal mining site along Julius Berger Quarry site.

According to him, “The incident did not actually happen at the illegal mining site, but opposite the site at night. Nobody was killed during the youth clash on Friday there.

“The report in its entirety is fake, malicious and has no link to mining activity. It was designed to just tarnish the image of the Ministry.”

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NDLEA destroys 304,436kg, 40, 042 litres of illicit drugs seized in Lagos, Ogun

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Tuesday 16th April 2024 destroyed a total of 304,436kg kilograms and 40,042 litres of illicit substances seized from parts of Lagos and Ogun states.

Speaking at a brief ceremony where the seized drugs were publicly destroyed in Badagry Lagos, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the open destruction of the seized illicit drugs followed court orders, even as he called for more public support for ongoing efforts by NDLEA and other stakeholders to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

“Though a routine exercise and an established process of removing dangerous substances from our society, the public destruction of confiscated illicit drugs is usually conducted at the end of their related cases in court”, the NDLEA boss stated adding that the exhibits being destroyed were of mixed types, “which include illicit drugs in solid and liquid states as well as in various classes such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, and tramadol, among others.”

He said the drugs were seized by NDLEA operatives across different formations of the Agency in Lagos and Ogun states from January 2022 till date especially at the Lagos seaports, airports, and land borders.

“To be destroyed here today on the order of the court are solid drugs, weighing 304,436.055kg and 40, 042. 621 litres of liquid drugs. The sheer volume of the drug haul speaks volumes about the extent of the nefarious activities of the drug underworld.”

He expressed appreciation to traditional rulers, heads of security agencies, the clergy, members of NGOs and CSOs as well as other stakeholders who witnessed the ceremony.

“The destruction of these seizures complies with the NDLEA Act, which mandates the Agency to destroy all drug exhibits after prosecution. We want to say that your presence here is a testament to this important occasion. To this end, we appreciate all stakeholders and members of the public for witnessing this exercise”, he added.

He seized the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Agency’s local and international partners, “especially the American Drug Enforcement Administration (US-DEA); United Kingdom NCA, Border Force; the Germans, the French; Indian NCB, among others who had worked with us on a number of busts. Similarly, we appreciate the Nigerian military and other law enforcement agencies such as the Customs; Immigration; Police; Civil Defence; FRSC; NFIU,NAFDAC and others that have been supporting our efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs.”
While assuring that NDLEA will not relent in its effort to end the drug scourge in the country, Marwa called for more public support for the activities of the Agency. “The safety of our society is the responsibility of every one of us. Every citizen shall be fulfilling his or her civic duty by assisting the Agency’s War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign to clean up our communities and cities. Together, we can make this country secure”, he added.

Lagos state governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by Chairman, Badagry West Local Government, Mr. Olusegun Onilude expressed satisfaction with the efforts of NDLEA to tackle the scourge of illicit drugs in the country.

“Almost all crimes and criminalities are fueled by illicit drugs, so the Lagos state government appreciates NDLEA and its leadership in their resolute fight against illicit drugs.

“The volume of illicit drugs being destroyed here today speak volume and every right-thinking person should be worried”, he stated.

He also thanked the Agency for taking the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) social advocacy campaign to schools and communities across Lagos State. “No doubt, NDLEA is working, and the state will continue to collaborate with the Agency and its leadership”, he assured.

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