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Lawyers lament non-implementation of anti-torture law


The Avocats Sans Frontières (Lawyers Without Borders) has lamented the non-implementation of the Anti-torture Act, almost three years after it was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It stated that the development was constituting a major clog to the wheel of justice, as according to the group, security officials have “continued to mete out torture to the citizens without being made to face the law.”

Head, Nigeria Office, Angela Uwandu, spoke yesterday at a two-day training for the “Media and CSOs on Strengthening the National Actors’ Capacities and Advocating for Ending Serious Human Rights Violations in Nigeria (SAFE)” in Enugu.

She regretted that the unsavoury situation was prompted by the “inability of the Minister of Justice to issue the needed guidelines.”Uwandu added: “The Anti-torture Act criminalises torture in Nigeria. For the first time, we have legislation in Nigeria that now marks out torture as an offence in Nigeria’s criminal jurisprudence. We didn’t have it before. So, that is a major achievement. The kernel is that an individual officer who has perpetrated torture can now be prosecuted under this law in Nigeria. It also prescribes punishment that can have up to 14 years imprisonment.

“It was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2017, but as of today, there has been no implementation. The law gives room for the Minister of Justice to make guidelines for the implementation, and we are still awaiting the guidelines from the Minister of Justice, almost three years after the signing of that particular law.”

Asked what her organisation had done to right the anomaly, she said they had created awareness and engaged the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders on the matter.

Uwandu stated that the training was to equip the participants on issues revolving around human rights violations by security agencies and ensure synergy for better reports.

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