The National Human Rights Commission NHRC has called on government and stakeholders at all levels to work harder to ensure that torture, inhuman and degrading treatment treatment or punishment meted out on citizens by security and law enforcement personnel is completely eradicated in the society.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission Chief Tony Ojukwu, SAN, made this call in Abuja over the weekend as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2022 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The Day is observed on 26 June every year.
The Executive Secretary also called on security agencies to desist from any form of torture inhuman and degrading treatment while carrying out their operations, urged them to embrace international best practices in conducting investigations which according to him gives high regard to respect for human rights. Ojukwu equally expressed concern over private citizens’ involvement in this ugly practice, describing it as deeply disturbing to the Commission.
According to the Chief Human Rights Officer, “the international event is significant because it provides the opportunity to reassess the conduct of law enforcement agencies, groups, and individuals in order to ensure that they operate within the ambit of national, regional, or international law”.
While expressing worries over the spate of torture and other related human rights violations which come in various forms especially police brutality, domestic violence, assault, rape, kidnap, etc., the Learned Silk lamented that “although Nigeria has ratified several major international human rights treaties and has also passed the Anti- Torture Act 2017 into law, torture still remains a tool used by security agents for interrogating and intimidating suspects “.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria disclosed that violation of the right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment has remained one of Nigeria’s highest recorded human rights violations. “A good number of the complaints treated by the Commission during the Independent Investigative Panel on Alleged Human Rights Violations by Officers of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other Units of the Nigeria Police relates to several incidents of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the Police, our records are there to show,” he said.
He further stated that the Commission has conducted several trainings and developed manuals on mainstreaming human rights in the operations of the law enforcement officials including those involved in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast. Similarly, he said the Commission has embarked on a series of advocacy visits and conducted inspections in detention facilities across the country to ensure that their operations are in line with international human rights standards.
“Where we are not satisfied with what we observe, we make recommendations to appropriate authorities for improvement” Ojukwu added.
NHRC Boss further called on the government to up its game in providing the needed security to everyone living in Nigeria in order to protect them from falling victims of the dreaded kidnap activities which have recently become the order of the day, expressing concern that many victims have lost their lives as a result of the inhuman treatment in which they are subjected to.
“The government must put a mechanism in place to get rid of these syndicates and prosecute those of them that have been arrested to serve as a deterrent to others” he said