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PRAWA tasks government on compliance with UN torture law

By Silver Nwokoro
28 June 2022   |   12:43 pm
In commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes human rights for people in prisons, Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), has called on the Nigerian government to comply with its reporting obligations to the Committee Against Torture in line with Article 19 of the Convention…

In commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that promotes human rights for people in prisons, Prison Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), has called on the Nigerian government to comply with its reporting obligations to the Committee Against Torture in line with Article 19 of the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

The organisation also urged the government to quickly take action to implement the 2021 CAT Concluding Observations and Recommendations to Nigeria.

It said the continued inability to obey conventions and other unsavoury conducts were further impugning Nigeria’s reputation among the comity of nations.

In a statement signed by its Executive Director, Dr. Uju Agomoh, PRAWA explained that torture has been described by the United Nations as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by people on their fellow human beings.

“Torture is a crime against humanity, which is said to seek annihilation of the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. United Nations Convention Against Torture provides for absolute prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and calls on all nations of the world to do so in their national laws,” it added.

The organisation commended the efforts taken by the Nigerian government to prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, but notes that despite the enactment of the Anti-torture Act of 2017 and the accession to the CAT and the Optional Protocol, torture remains widespread in the country whilst accountability for perpetrators and remedy for victims are far from being actualised.

PRAWA, with the support of partners has over the years led initiatives that aim at preventing the use of torture by state security actors and at rehabilitation of Torture victims.

The body further recommends that the National Justice Institute (NJI) should start massive training of judicial officers on the international, regional and national legal instruments that prohibit torture, to equip them with the right knowledge to superintend over torture related cases.

“The National Assembly should kick start the process for amendment of the Anti-torture Act of 2017, to align it with the provisions of the Convention Against Torture, especially as it concerns rehabilitation of Torture Victims and grant the National Committee on Torture, the requisite legal backing to adequately and independently discharge its mandate in line with the Optional Protocol to the CAT,” PRAWA recommends.

“The Federal Government and the subnational units, should set up a committee to see to the implementation of the recommendations of the #EndSARS panel report relating to torture, and mandate the attorneys general to initiate legal proceedings against state officials accused of torture.”