Human right organisations, including Access to Justice (A2J) has called on the Nigerian Judiciary to put more effort so as to eradicate the use of torture in the judicial system by holding accountable those who perpetrate it.
They lamented that the limited role the judiciary has played so far has contributed significantly to the weak protection of the rights of Nigerians in respect of being free from torture.
“Where law enforcement officials are proved to have engaged in torture, the judiciary should refer such persons to appropriate authorities, for further investigation and trial,” they said.
According to them, torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental and physical pains or suffering, by or with the approval of state agents. They noted that Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman punishments.
“However, in spite of this commitment, the use of torture persisted within our national systems, and still does. And the problem was that, until recently, although the use of torture was prohibited under the constitution, torture was not a criminal offence in Nigeria. This meant that torture could hardly be prosecuted,” they said in a statement signed scores of the organisations.
Among the group are, Avocats Sans Frontières France /Lawyers Without Borders, National Committee Against Torture, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Sterling Centre for Law & Development, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Center for Liberty, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution amongst others.
The groups applauded President Buhari’s government for taking the bold step of domesticating the United Nation Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.
“However, given how entrenched the use of torture has become in our country, and how in fact, its use is justified as proper and needful to fight crime and insecurity by many members of our law enforcement and security units, the struggle to end torture in Nigeria has only just begun,” the group stated.
They further urged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to accelerate the process for the approval of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Anti-Torture Act in line with Section 12 of the Act.