‘‘Torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and punishment, wherever they occur and whatever the circumstances, can never be justified’’
– UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon
On the International Day in commemoration of Victims of Torture, Avocats Sans Frontières France expresses solidarity with persons who are currently undergoing torture, those who have endured torture and those who did not survive the cruel force of torture in Nigeria. According to Convention against Torture, Article 1.1, torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person, information or a confession..... Also, section 34 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
Although Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture, UNCAT, in 2001, the convention is yet to be domesticated in the Nigerian laws. Torture is prevalent and widely used by security agencies in Nigeria especially for pre-trial detainees who in many instances stay for long periods in detention without trial. Such treatments are carried out commonly in several detention facilities by the police and other security agencies as a primary means of extracting confessional statements from suspects. This often times inflicts serious pain, psychological trauma and physical deformity on the victims.
ASFF urges the Nigerian government to take decisive legislative and judicial steps to prevent acts of torture meted on men and women across the country and provide redress, compensation and rehabilitation for all torture victims. An inclusive effort through public enlightenment and capacity building of stakeholders in the justice system is required to reduce the incidence of torture. The government must also take proactive measures to hold perpetrators of acts of torture accountable for their actions to avoid the culture of impunity on the issue of torture.
You may recall that between 2009 and 2012, ASFF worked on a project, United Nations Convention against Torture Promotion and Implementation, for Its Full enjoyment by the Nigerian Civil Society (ProCAT), which provided free legal assistance to victims of torture and established a body of case laws that condemns the use of torture and violation of fundamental rights, based on the application of local and international legal instruments.
On the platform of the ProCAT project, ASFF successfully enforced the human rights of 20 victims of torture at the various state high courts. Damages were awarded in 11 out of these 20 cases. ASFF is still an advocate of a torture free society and justice for all and plans to extend the ProCAT project to new target states in Nigeria.