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Lawyers Alert in ECOWAS Regional Court Against Federal Republic of Nigeria for Restrictive Abortion Law against Survivors of Sexual Violence

In November 2023, Ahaki’s Nigeria LIRA Programme implementing partner, Lawyers Alert, filed a landmark case in the ECOWAS Regional Court against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the first-ever challenge of its kind against Nigeria, challenging the government’s omissions and actions that hinder access to safe abortion and post-abortion care at the regional level. The case challenges Nigeria’s restrictive abortion laws, which violate women’s and girl’s rights, particularly survivors of sexual violence, guaranteed under the Maputo Protocol and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The lawsuit is premised on Nigeria’s failure to domesticate the Maputo Protocol, which guarantees access to safe abortion for survivors of sexual violence, thus depriving them of their fundamental human rights and access to healthcare. Lawyers Alert has provided evidence showing how the criminalisation of abortion for sexual violence victims undermines their ability to seek and access care.

This groundbreaking case aims to establish an important legal precedent – that the persecution and exclusion of sexual violence survivors from accessing safe abortion services is a violation of regional and international human rights laws. By taking the matter to the ECOWAS court, we hope to compel Nigeria and other ECOWAS member states to fulfil their obligations to protect and fully guarantee the sexual and reproductive health rights of all women and girls in the region. The Federal Government of Nigeria has filed its response in the matter and the suit is yet to be heard by the ECOWAS Court. To learn more, visit the LIRA Programme in Nigeria and Lawyers Alert

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