The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Forum on Detention and Corrections in Nigeria called on Government to effectively and efficiently implement laws on torture and ensure access to justice for victims of torture.
The CSOs made the call in a press statement in commemoration of United Nation (UN) Day in support of victims of torture.
PRAWA Deputy Director, Ogechi Ogu charged Civil Society Organizations to take up the mantle of leadership in terms of advocacy and awareness creation on issues of torture, especially the amendment of laws that accommodate the rights of victims/survivors of torture.
She said this opportunity of 2021 celebration of UN Day in Support of Torture Victims should be utilized for sober reflection on the progress Nigeria has made in the fight against torture.
According to her “It is the position of members of the CSO Forum that use of torture is reprehensible and a very serious abuse of human rights deserving of condemnation by ALL. International, regional and national legal instruments absolutely prohibit torture. Therefore, no circumstance whatsoever can justify the use of torture. The absolute prohibition of torture is reinforced by the fact that it is an abuse of rights which gets to the root of the right of individuals to dignity and respect as captured in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The CSOs demanded rehabilitation services for survivors of torture and also called on all citizens to rise against all acts of torture in the country.
The CSO Forum on Detention and Corrections include Hope Behind Bars Africa, Center for Human Rights Fact -FindingAdvocacy Rehabilitation & Reintegration (CHFARR), Prisoners Rights Advocacy Initiative, COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peace Building, Elixir Trust Foundation, GREI and Restorative Justice for Africa.
Others are Makolo Anthony Empowerment Foundation (MAEF), STOBA Security, Prison Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Justice and Peace Advocacy Initiative, Olive Justice Initiative, Securing the Creative Goldmine in Youths Initiative, Inmates Educational Foundation, Bridges and Hands Foundation, Sufabel Community Development Initiative.
The CSOs said “Nigerians should form part of interventions targeted at prevention of torture and protection and rehabilitation of torture victims/survivors.”
Speaking further, Ogu said urged Civil Society Organizations to provide support and strengthening capacity of the relevant institutions saddled with the responsibility of implementation of the Anti-Torture Act 2017.
She said Section 10 of the law on ensuring that the function of overseeing the implementation of this Act shall be specifically assigned to a particular office or unit of the agency concerned must be implemented.
She also called the implementation of Section 11 on ensuring that education and information regarding 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 and Section 12 as well.
Ogu said “We call on arresting agencies in Nigeria to allow oversight agencies and civil society organizations unfettered access to detention facilities and to also keep a central database that provides real-time statistics of the number of persons in their custody.”
“We wish to communicate the importance of collaborations to ensure there is no duplication of efforts and waste of resources so that we can collectively achieve more” Ogu noted.
She said the call has become imperative given the increased situation of the shrinking civil space and the accompanying gross human rights abuse in the country manifesting in cases of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment perpetrated against individuals in the society.
She noted that there are unfortunately obvious indications that Nigeria is losing previous milestones seemingly achieved in the fight against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.