Nigeria: UN expert calls for more action to enhance progress in protecting older persons

Geneva/Abuja, 9 September, 2022.-Despite commendable progress on legal and policy safeguards for older persons, Nigeria must implement already adopted measures to protect them and ensure the most vulnerable are not exposed to the ageism and age discrimination still prevalent in society, a UN expert said.

Ending a 12-day visit to the country, Claudia Mahler, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights for older persons, welcomed the Government’s progressive efforts in combatting poverty, security concerns, economic crisis, and gender-based inequalities faced by many older people.

“Such commitment translates into the adoption of the National Senior Citizens Centre Act and the establishment of a dedicated Centre at Federal Government level to ensure that the human rights of older persons are mainstreamed in all programmes and activities,” Mahler said in a statement at the end of her visit.

“The pending bill called ‘Older Persons (Rights and Privileges)’ would offer the most comprehensive legal framework ever available for older persons in the country, addressing among others, the social and economic challenges triggered by ageing. “I urge President (Muhammadu) Buhari to assent to the law, as part of his extended legacy to promote the rights of older persons.”

Mahler said that as well as ageism and age-discrimination, even among Government officials, violence against older persons is an unspoken reality. The absence of social protection floors, including a regular distribution of pensions, contribute to the difficulty for older persons to access social services, including appropriate healthcare and different care options, as well as adequate housing.

Older persons in vulnerable situations, especially those with disabilities, older internally displaced persons, older LGTB persons and others living below the poverty line, should be made the Government’s priority when implementing legal and policy tools.

“Continued efforts, along with political will and appropriate budgeting, must be strengthened to ensure that legal and policy safeguards protect the rights of all older persons all over the Nigerian territory in practice, indistinctive of their sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, and their living and economic situations,” the expert said.

“I hope my report and recommendations will assist the country to reduce inequalities and ensure a life in dignity for all older persons in the country.”

During her visit, the Independent Expert met with various Government authorities at Federal and State levels, civil society, stakeholders working on the rights of older persons and older persons themselves.

The expert will present a comprehensive report of her findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2023.

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