ASF France rescues two victims of torture in Lagos
Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF France), also known as lawyers without borders, has successfully enforced the human rights of two victims of torture and arbitrary detention in Lagos State, by securing their unconditional release.
The action was in line with the group’s mandate of giving a voice to the defenceless through its Promoting the United Nations Convention Against Torture (ProCAT) project, which is aimed at ending torture in Nigeria.
Country Director of ASF France, Mrs. Angela Uwandu Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, who confirmed the development, in a statement yesterday, said prior to ASF France’s intervention, one of the victims, Mr. A. Abiodun had spent over seven years in arbitrary detention with torture in Lagos State, while Mr. A. James had spent over one year in arbitrary detention after being tortured.
She stressed that although Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) in 2001 and enacted a law prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments at the end of 2017 (Anti-Torture Act 2017), there are many obstacles to its effective implementation.
The country director noted that torture has continued to go on institutionally, especially by security agencies in the discharge of their duties. Nigerians continue to be arbitrarily held in detention and tortured.
According to her, ASF France’s pro-bono legal aid intervention was instituted for cases of this nature, to provide legal aid at no cost to the defenceless, hence, ASF France intervened in the cases.
Speaking after the judgement in Adeyemi’s case in which damages in the sum of N20 Million were awarded, Mrs. Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said: “Nothing can ever make up for seven lost years in one’s life, let alone seven years filled with unthinkable acts of torture. Security agencies need to demonstrate their commitment to human rights by upholding these laws against torture.
“Between the months of April and August 2021, ASF handled these cases, tendering individual applications to the Lagos State High Court on behalf of both detainees, particularly seeking for unconditional or conditional release, citing the instances of torture, violation of their fundamental human rights, their rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, provided under sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“Both applications were successful at the High Court of Lagos State·”
The ProCAT project is being implemented in Nigeria by Avocats Sans Frontières France and co-funded by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFT) and the German Embassy in Nigeria.