The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) join the United Nations and other Human Rights Organizations to commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this auspicious occasion, LEDAP uses this medium to commend the National Assembly of Nigeria for the adoption of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017. The Act criminalizes torture by the police and other law enforcement agencies; therefore we call on all concerned institutions to see to its full implementation. We also call on the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to develop appropriate guidelines for effective implementation as mandated by sections 10 &12 of the Act.
In Nigeria, there are daily reports of torture of suspects by police, military and other law enforcement agencies. These everyday law enforcement practices are in many cases not in accordance with the constitutional provision prohibiting torture yet the perpetrators are not prosecuted and victims are unable to seek redress. LEDAP also uses this medium to call on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) and Civil Society organizations (CSOs) to document incidents of torture and demand prosecution of offenders in line with the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act.
Torture is a criminal offence punishable by law and LEDAP is in partnership with United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) to seek ways to reduce incidents of torture and improve access to redress for victims through an ongoing project titled “Community Mobilization Against Torture in Nigeria“.
In observance of the International Day in Support of victims of torture, LEDAP in partnership with the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is set to launch a torture prevention campaign and an anti-torture awareness walk in the Federal capital territory Abuja, on 26th June, to lend its voice against the crime of torture and also render support to torture victims and survivors all over the world.
STATEMENT ON THE 62ND ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS HOLDING IN NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA FROM APRIL 25 – MAY 9 2018.
The human rights situation in Nigeria from the 33 year military rule to the 19 year civilian administration makes an interesting subject for review in view of the dire situation in Nigeria viz-a-viz counter insurgency war, ethnic mass killings, and violent extremism prevalent in the country.
This statement urges the Commission to review Nigeria’s compliance with its human rights obligations under the Banjul Charter which the Country has adopted and domesticated; and other international human rights instruments in line with the under listed areas of concerns and also, adopt the recommendations stated therein.
The statement examines Nigeria’s compliance with human rights standards and principles as it relates to Torture, Extra-judicial Killings, and Responses to Terrorism and Crisis; Violent extremism and the Right to Life; and Gender Inequality.
Torture, Extra-judicial Killings, and Responses to Terrorism and Crisis.
The 9 year insurgency in the country has greatly exacerbated rights abuses in Nigeria. Online and offline reports reveal that counter-insurgency operations have led to rights violations and abuses by both state and non-state actors. These rights violations range from torture to enforced disappearances, arbitrarily long detentions, summary executions and extra-judicial killings, detention incommunicado and also sexual and gender based violence.
Creditably, Nigeria has adopted and domesticated the Banjul Charter as its national law, there is still an obvious poor level of implementation of this law as the unrestricted rights of Nigerians recognized under the Charter and guaranteed by the Constitution of the FRN are still not adequately protected.
There still exist, recorded incidences of torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and detention incommunicado, perpetuated by state actors in response to terrorism and adequate redress mechanisms do not exist for victims because impunity thrives when there is no political will to punish offenders irrespective of their status or affiliation.
The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, between 2015 – 2017 through its identification mechanism has been able to identify and file 142 fundamental human rights cases in Northeast Nigeria bordering on unlawful arrest and prolonged detention, torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.
To further buttress these points, LEDAP in rendering support to a loosely organized movement of over 300 people seeking the release and re-union with their family members who were abducted by men of the Nigerian army since 2015 has adopted various strategies to seek redress for these victims including writing to the National Assembly and Presidential Panel demanding for public hearing on behalf of the 276 persons detained by the military since 2015. So far, nothing has been done.
There is a more urgent need for the government to make conscious and concerted efforts to better protect and promote the rights of citizens.
Violent Extremism and the Right to Life
The right to life is the most basic right provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and under the Banjul Charter.
Acknowledging the efforts that have been made by the government to fight insurgency in the country, the upsurge in violent extremism and land grabbing attacks by herdsmen is an uprising which if left unchecked, will lead to a total annihilation of Nigerians and will undoubtedly affect the West Africa Region and African Continent. Almost everyday, Nigerians are killed in their numbers in flagrant disregard for the right to life. News of horrendous and gruesome killings especially in the North Central and North West regions of Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Zamfara, Southern Kaduna, etc have inundated the media space. The government needs to take a decisive stance and action to end mass killings and crimes that have infiltrated the country.
On this note, we urge the Commission to review Nigeria’s obligation to protect lives and properties in line with efforts that have been made to strengthen its security apparatuses in order to meet its foremost responsibility.
On death penalty, it’s a truism that it doesn’t act as a deterrence in the criminal justice sector and it targets mostly indigent people.
It has become imperative for a nation wide moratorium to be called on the death penalty and positive de-jure measures taken to abolish same.
Irrespective of Nigeria signing and ratifying the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, otherwise known as the Maputo Protocol, not much affirmative actions have been made to address issues fostering discrimination against women in the African region.
Women and girls still face a lot of rights violations including but not limited to various forms of SGBV, child marriages, SRHR violations such as high maternal and morbidity rate, lack of access to adequate health care facilities, inadequate representation in the political and governance structure of the country, etc.