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PRAWA expresses concern over rising cases of torture in Nigeria

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action has expressed concern over what it termed as rising cases of torture and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by law enforcement agencies despite the ratification of relevant human right laws in the country.

It also raised concern over cases of killings, maiming, kidnapping and dehumanisation of citizens by criminal elements.

Uju Agomoh, Executive Director and Founder PRAWA and Member UN Sub-committee on the Prevention of Torture, in a statement to mark the International Human Rights Day noted that the Nigerian Government has ratified almost all international, regional human rights instruments on the prohibition of Torture and has enacted national laws targeted at ensuring the prevention of torture, protection of victims and accountability for perpetrators.

Agomoh in a statement made available to the media by the Deputy Director, PRAWA, Ogechi Ogu, on Thursday, however, said the efforts of government are yet to yield the desired results as torture is still in use; adding  there are  no government mechanism to support the rehabilitation of torture victims/survivors.

She, therefore urged the government to commit to fulfilling all its obligations under the different human rights treaties to it as a signatory.

Agomoh noted that Human Rights Day marked December 10, 2022, with the theme: “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All,” aptly reminds “us of our collective humanity and the need to uphold the equality, respect, and dignity of  all human beings irrespective of class and status”.

She said the 2022 celebration is a great opportunity to provoke the interest and consciousness of all stakeholders to the regrettable persistent and systemic use of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons by security agencies despite several international, and regional human rights instruments Nigeria is a signatory to and national laws prohibiting these.

She pointed out that torture undermines the respect and dignity of human beings and erodes the realisation of every other human right.

Agomoh said: “Torture is condemnable, reprehensible, and not permissible no matter the circumstance as it reaps a human being of his dignity and respect.

“It is an enabler of justice denial as an innocent victim of mental or physical torture can in the circumstance confess to a crime he never committed.

“Torture could lead to death and once life is lost, all other human rights seize to exist.

“As we celebrate this year’s human rights day PRAWA wishes to reaffirm its commitment to reform initiatives in the Security and Justice Sector with a special focus on efforts targeted at a reduction in the use of torture, accountability for perpetrators of torture, and support to /rehabilitation of torture victims.”

Agomoh recommended that Nigeria can fulfill all its obligations under the different human rights treaties it is a signatory to by ensuring timeous obligatory reporting on the progress of the country regarding the issues of torture;

Ensuring that the proposed amendment of the Anti-torture Act provides for the rehabilitation of Torture victims and supports institutional and sustainable structure for their effective implementation;

Developing a case management system of data accounting for numbers of tortured victims in all places of detention. Ensuring that the National Preventive mechanism on Torture is functioning by the requirements of OPCAT;

Establishment of a tamper-proof register of all persons placed under arrest and a comprehensive database of all places of detention, including their locations, number of persons detained, their compliance with international human rights standards, and other relevant information;

Putting in place a system that ensures unhindered access to all places of detention for detainees’ families, legal counsel, medical doctors, and NGOs and complete tracking of the whereabouts of all detainees from point of arrest to discharge;

Improvement of the conditions of all detention and correctional centers and ensuring that processes are put in place to prevent physical and psychological torture of detainees;

Ensure zero tolerance on torture for all detainees including children and young adults in conflict with the law and deprived of their liberty;

Ensure sustained public awareness creation and early inculcation (including in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) of values and ethics that abhor torture, inhuman and degrading treatment against persons;

Training and capacity building of relevant stakeholders on torture documentation and redress in line with Istanbul protocol and other international good standards/practices; and

General improvement of our Justice Delivery towards prevention of arbitrary arrest, facilitation of speedy disposition of cases, and increased utilization of noncustodial measures.

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