Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

..seeks end to inhumane, cruel treatment against Nigerians

Ngozi James

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has called on the federal government and states to urgently set up a committee to see to the implementation of the recommendations of the #ENDARS panel report relating to torture.

The organisation also wbats govenrnent to  mandate the attorneys general to initiate legal proceedings against state officials accused of torture.

PRAWA made this call in commemoration of the anniversary of the coming into effect of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, while l reaffirming its support to the eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in Nigeria.

According to the United Nations, torture is one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings. Torture is a crime against humanity which is said to seek annihilation of the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. United Nations Convention Against Torture provides for absolute prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and calls on all nations of the world to do so in their national laws.

PRAWA, in a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director,  Uju Agomoh, also called on the Nigerian state to comply with its reporting obligations to the Committee Against Torture in line with Article 19 of the Convention Against Torture and to quickly take actions to implement the 2021 CAT Concluding Observations and Recommendations to Nigeria.

“The continued inability of the Nigerian government to meet its reporting obligation, is a blight on our international image and any delay in implementing the Committee report, will further impugn the reputation of our country. In this regard, PRAWA wishes to recommend that the following actions be taken to urgently address the concluding observations of the Committee;

The National Justice Institute should start massive training of judicial officers on the international, regional and national legal instruments that prohibit torture, to equip them with the right knowledge to superintend over torture related cases.

“The National Assembly should kickstart the process for amendment of the Antitorture Act of 2017, to align it with the provisions of the Convention Against Torture especially as it concerns rehabilitation of Torture Victims and grant the National Committee on Torture, the requisite legal backing to adequately and independently discharge its mandate in line with the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

“The safeguards contained in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019, Police Act 2020 and other legislations, regarding pretrial detention, independent monitoring of places of detention, recording of arrests and database of persons in detention, should be quickly operationalized.

PRAWA also commended the efforts already taken by the Nigerian government to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but notes that despite the enactment of the Anti-torture Act of 2017 and the accession to the Convention Against Torture and the Optional Protocol, torture remains widespread in the country whilst accountability for perpetrators and remedy for victims are far from being actualized. 

The statement further read, “PRAWA, with the support of partners has over the years led initiatives that aim at preventing the use of torture by state security actors and at rehabilitation of Torture victims. To commemorate this years’ anniversary, we are carrying our sensitization/awareness campaigns and training of police officers on international, regional and national legal instruments that prohibits torture. To further promote adequate understanding and knowledge of anti-torture instruments, PRAWA produced a 5-part documentary and translated the Anti-torture Act 2017 into four indigenous languages, we also produced copies of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT), Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and the CAT Concluding Observations and Recommendations to Nigeria, for dissemination to relevant stakeholders.

“In conclusion, PRAWA wishes to congratulate all civil society organizations, relevant government institutions and every stakeholder, working to end the heinous practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Nigeria. We restate the commitment of PRAWA to collaborating and partnering with relevant stakeholders to end the crime of torture in Nigeria.”

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