Journal of African Law

Research Article

Human Rights Enforcement by People Living in Poverty: Access to Justice in Nigeria

Eva Brems* and Charles Olufemi Adekoya**


This article analyses the challenges facing those living in poverty in Nigeria in accessing justice for the enforcement of their rights, despite those rights being constitutionally protected and despite the existence of a specific procedure for their enforcement. People living in poverty are generally most likely to see their human rights violated, and least likely to enforce their rights. The article posits that the judiciary in developing countries has a crucial role to play in fighting human rights violations specifically affecting people living in poverty, and notes the great challenge for the Nigerian legislator and judiciary towards making justice accessible in practical terms to the needy in Nigeria. The example of public interest litigation in India can serve as a source of inspiration in this respect.


* Professor of human rights law, Ghent University, Belgium.

** Lecturer, Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.