As part of activities and steps to draw the attention of strategic stakeholders on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT ) and the Optional Protocol (OPCAT) of which Nigeria is a signatory, a non-governmental organisation, CLEEN Foundation and Prisoner’s Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) with the support of the OMCT SOS-Torture Network and the EU held a stakeholders’ capacity workshop in Abuja to come up with strategic plans and steps and data that will help push for anti-torture act 2017 in Nigeria.
In her remarks, the acting Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Ruth Olofin said “the workshop also aimed at advocating for the country’s compliance in the development and submission of its report on the implementation of the convention against torture in Nigeria at the 72nd session of CAT.
According to Ruth, Nigeria failed to submit its report before the committee against torture twenty years after it was enacted.
Recall that Nigeria joined some nations in 2017 to ratify and enact the Anti-torture Act 2017, which was an outcome of the United Nations Convention against torture.
The Act provides the legal framework for the prohibition of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment on anyone as enshrined in Section 34(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution and makes comprehensive provisions for penalising acts of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, and prescribes penalties for the commission of such acts.
The Foundation’s Director further noted that the objectives of the Nigeria Anti-Torture Act have not being fully achieved as torture, ills and degrading treatment engulf every nook and cranny of Nigeria. She added that there has been an increase in the number of reported cases on the abuse of human rights and impunity by security and law enforcement officials in Nigeria.
This has shown in various reports of indiscriminate arrests, extra-judicial killings, illegal detention, infliction of physical, emotional, and psychological injuries of persons under police custody, overcrowding of detention centres leading to inhuman living conditions, she hinted.
This is at variance with legal provisions in various laws including the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015. She said, “The complexity of security threats facing the Nigerian state further complicates efforts at ending torture as seen in some counter-insurgency and security operations amongst others. There is, therefore, the need for greater respect for the dignity of the human person and for Nigeria to live up to its obligations under the various protocols and laws.
“Again, when we shift attention away from the state, we also see consistent reports of ill-treatment of persons including domestic servants with some being under-aged, domestic violence occurring in private spaces by the civil public. Greater measures aimed at enforcement of these laws and holding offenders-public or private officials to account are necessary steps to full and effective implementation of the Anti-torture act.”
She lauded the efforts of the OMCT SOS-Torture Network for supporting the implementation of the project.