By Ameh Ochojila
• CSOs task agencies to ensure submission of torture report to UN
The UN has called on Nigeria to ensure detainees’ rights are brought to the law court and the freedom to challenge the legality of their detention at any stage of proceedings.
This was highlighted at consultative workshop on UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) for Civil Society and the media held in Abuja recently.
In the absence of the initial report of Nigeria, UN also recommended the criminalisation of attempt to committee torture, this mean a possible amendment to the Anti- Torture Acts, 2017.
The UN also recommended that the state party provides the human and financial resources needed to ensure the proper functioning of all local branches of the legal aid council, among others.
The CAT recommendation came after concluding observation in the absence of the initial report of Nigeria adapted in the last session of the meeting held in Geneva.
According to the article 19 (1) of the UN convention, having acceded to the convention in 2021, Nigeria was obligated to submit its initial report the next year.
CAT, however, regrets that Nigeria failed to meet its report obligation after 20 years, which precluded the committee from assessing the implementation of the convention on the basis of government’s reports.
The committee also appreciated Nigeria’s efforts to reform the police, the enactment of the police act and the revision of the police force order 237 incorporating international standards, however, it raised concern at the report of excessive use of force.
A Civil Society Organisation, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), during the workshop, flayed government’s inability to submit the report on situation of torture to the UN committee.
The Executive Director of the PRAWA, Dr. Uju Agomoh, regretted that 20 years after Nigeria signed international treaty on torture; it was yet to meet its obligation on report of situation on torture.
She noted that though on the parts of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), it provided the report on its website, she noted that bureaucracies prevented its submission.
Agomoh said the Commission has done its part on the reports but was unfortunate that the same response did not come from other relevant MDA of the government.
The consultative workshop, which was jointly organised by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture victims (IRCT) and PRAWA, aimed at evolving strategies to heal the wound of torture in the country.