*Calls On AGF To Compile Record Of Various EndSars Panel To Commence Prosecution Of Those Found To Have Committed Torture
A civil rights Non-governmental organization, ‘Access To Justice’, has expressed concern that there are prevalent cases of torture in spite of the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act, 2017.
In a press statement by Joseph Otteh, Convener and Deji Ajare, Project Director titled, ‘In Spite of Anti Torture Act 2017, Law Enforcement and Security Agencies Still Torture with Impunity, and No Prosecution Yet for Torture a Nigerian Government Must Do More than Pay Lip Service to Abolishing Use of Torture ’; the NGO noted that no one has been prosecuted under the Act yet, not even members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
“June 26th is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The day has been set aside by the United Nations to support victims of torture and to push for the elimination of torture.
“In 2017, Nigeria passed the Anti Torture Act (‘ATA’) in a bold effort to end the use of brutal and inhumane tactics in law enforcement/security operations. The ATA – built on the UN Convention against Torture (1984) among other things – abolishes torture, cruel and inhuman treatments as well as criminalizes their use,
“Unfortunately, the Anti Torture Act has been mostly a window dressing, and no real effort has been made, in practice, to abolish the use of torture by the Nigerian government. Nigerian security forces continue to kill arbitrarily and torture persons they arrest within the context of counter-insurgency operations.
“While noting an overall decrease in the incidence of torture by law enforcement agencies, systematized patterns of torture are still prevalent. Many independent reports confirm Nigerians are still subjected to beatings, extended periods of pre-trial detention, and public parading of crime suspects. The Anti Torture Act specifically designates the parading of crime suspects as ‘torture’ but law enforcement and security institutions continue to publicly parade untried crime suspects nationwide routinely and with impunity.
“Furthermore, in spite of its continued and publicized use, no one has been reported to have been prosecuted under the ATA for perpetrating acts of torture. Not even members of notorious Units such as the outlawed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), notwithstanding the many horrendous allegations made against its members, many of which have been substantiated by \EndSARS Panels of Inquiries across State lines.” Access to Justice said
According to NGO, in the absence of clear and strong political commitment to enforcing the Anti-Torture Act 2017 or prosecution for violation, those bound to apply the Act in their respective spheres of operation will hardly be moved by the prohibitions in the Act.
They further expressed concern that the Attorney General of the Federation has yet to make the accompanying “rules and regulations for the effective implementation of” the Anti-Torture Act as provided by the Act. According to them, the delay in making these Rules is undermining the enforcement and effectiveness of the Act and denying justice to victims of torture.
Access to Justice therefore called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to, “as a matter of urgency, to make the relevant Rules and Regulations for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act 2017.”
Also, that the AGF should “immediately collate records of proceedings of the various EndSARS Panels of Inquiry and, from those records, commence prosecution of law enforcement or security agency officials – whether serving or not –found to have tortured their victims, in order to send a strong message of ‘intent’ to Nigerians.”
Another recommendation that the NGO made was that the Hon. AGF should implementation the provision of section 11 of the Act which says “the prohibition against torture is fully included in ·the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical· personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.”
Lastly, that “the Nigerian government to set up an appropriate rehabilitation and compensation programmes for all victims of torture; alongside this, the government should amend the Sheriff and Civil Process Act 1984 to remove requirements of the Attorney-General’s consent before persons who have successfully won monetary judgements against public institutions, including law enforcement and security institutions, can receive compensation adjudged violations of their rights by courts.”
(Cambridge University Press, January, 2021) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN, FCIArb, Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti
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