The Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme, collaborated with the Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), and Access to Justice (A2J) to host a series of events to commemorate the 2022 United Nations Day in support of victims of torture. June 26 of each year has been designated as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The day is used to remember victims of torture, create awareness on the impact of torture and make calls to action to prevent torture.
This year, RoLAC, ASF and A2J organised a series of activities to commemorate the day. From June 21-22, a technical consultation themed “zero tolerance for torture by security agencies” was held for local experts and heads of security and law enforcement agencies.
The consultation noted that Nigeria domesticated the International Convention Against Torture by enacting the Anti-Torture Act (ATA) and established the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) in 2017. However, the committee lacks autonomy and requisite funding and acts of torture persist among security agencies. Furthermore, a lack of accountability for perpetrators of torture continues to fuel impunity for torture by security agencies. Five years after the passage of ATA, there is no record of prosecution or conviction under the ATA for crimes of torture.
The following recommendations were made:
- Redress for torture need not be through courts alone. The Federal Ministry of Justice (FMoJ), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies should institute or strengthen internal mechanisms for holding law enforcement or security operatives accountable for acts of torture. Implementing effective internal mechanisms assures the public that the FMoJ and security agencies will not condone torture. It also sends a strong message to operatives that there will be accountability for acts of torture.
- The National Committee Against Torture needs to be provided resources and its composition reviewed to provide for new members with new ideas.
- Those with responsibilities for implementing the ATA, like judges, magistrates, prosecutors, investigators and correctional officers, need to undergo training; while investigators need incentives and facilities to desist from using torture as an investigative method.
- There must be justice for victims of torture. This includes adequate reparation or compensation and rehabilitation; accountability for the perpetrator, who should also be made to pay compensation; and justice to the taxpayer or society, which seeks a reassurance that law enforcement agencies will respect the rule of law and the rights of citizens and would subject no one to torture no matter the alleged crime.
Following the consultation, RoLAC and ASF engaged the media and public in a press conference, and a road show awareness walk to create awareness of the ATA and its provisions, and to encourage the public to demand for their rights. The programme also supported the development and publication of videos and posters. These were disseminated on social media, which generated over 120,000 views, likes and comments in only two days.
RoLAC aims to reconvene a technical consultation forum in a few months to measure successes harvested from the above series of activities.