Our Voices

Protecting Civic Space: The Case of Omoyele Sowore

New Jersey journalist and human rights activist Omoyele “Yele” Sowore was violently detained in his native Nigeria in August 2019 after his online publication, Sahara Reporters, called for a nationwide protest of the country’s president. He’s been unlawfully imprisoned for months on trumped up charges of cyberstalking and treason, and potentially faces life in prison for exercising his fundamental rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has been working alongside the Sowore family to petition the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to press Nigeria for Omoyele’s release. His case is just one example of the lengths to which the Nigerian state will go to stifle opposing voices, crack down on the media, and systematically curtail fundamental freedoms which are integral to a functioning democracy.

We spoke with his wife, Opeyemi Sowore, for more on the case and how we must all fight to protect crucial civic space around the world.