ICRC, Police Collaborate to Evaluate Handling of Pre-trial Detainees

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Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri 
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) on Wednesday came together to evaluate the legal system on handling pre-trial detainees.
A statement by the spokesperson of ICRC, Aleksandra Mosimann, said there was a roundtable between the ICRC and the NPF specifically to examine the progress of the Police Duty Solicitor Scheme (PDSS), a scheme which was launched by the NPF in September 2017 as a mechanism for delivering prompt legal services for arrested and detained persons in police formations.
Mosimann, quoting Eloi Fillion, ICRC Head of Delegation in Nigeria, said: “The ICRC collaborates with the Nigeria Police Force to promote respect for the law that protects the rights of persons in detention.”
He also said: “We clearly recognise the enormous potential of this scheme to protect the rights of suspects through the promotion of a legally compliant pre-trial detention and a collaboration among agencies administering criminal justice.”
The statement revealed that during the meeting, the prospects and challenges of the scheme were discussed.
The Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris, who gave a keynote speech at the start of the event, was quoted to have said: “The current police management has zero tolerance on violation of the rights of citizens and corruption.”
He added that: “The PDSS is not only a partnership comprising the police, the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and the Open Society Justice Initiative, but is also a collaboration, designed to promote and protect the human rights of citizens.”
The meeting had over 150 people in attendance, including the legal department of the Police Force, the office of the Vice-President, representatives of the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto, Canada as well as law enforcement and legal experts from the ICRC.
The ICRC currently has an observer status on the advisory board of the PDSS and has trained over 4,000 police officers, promoting best practices during police operations.
The ICRC also collaborates with the NPF to promote respect for the law that protects the rights of persons in detention.
With their cooperation, the ICRC visits 11 police stations in seven states: Abuja, Bauchi, Borno, Bayelsa, Kaduna, Plateau and Rivers.
In total, the ICRC currently visits close to 1,400 detainees under police custody.