NHRC Wants Security Agencies to Stop Torturing Citizens

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has spoken against torture by security and other law enforcement agents in the country on citizens.

The commission, therefore, called on the government and stakeholders at all levels to work harder to ensure that torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment meted out on citizens by security and law enforcement personnel is completely eradicated in the society, even as it called on the government to immediately put mechanism in place to check terrorism, kidnapping and banditry.

The Executive Secretary of the commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu, made the call in Abuja during the celebration of the 2022 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Speaking at the event last weekend to commemorate the day observed globally on June 26 annually, Ojukwu called on security agencies to desist from any form of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment while carrying out their operations, urging them to embrace international best practices in conducting investigations which according to him gives high regard to respect for human rights.

He equally expressed concern over private citizens’ involvement in this ugly practice, describing it as deeply disturbing to the commission.

According to him, “The international event is significant because it provides the opportunity to reassess the conduct of law enforcement agencies, groups, and individuals in order to ensure that they operate within the ambit of national, regional or international law.”

While expressing worries over the spate of torture and other related human rights violations which come in various forms especially police brutality, domestic violence, assault, rape, kidnap, among others, the executive secretary lamented that “although Nigeria has ratified several major international human rights treaties and has also passed the Anti-Torture Act 2017 into law, torture still remains a tool used by security agents for interrogating and intimidating suspects.”

He lamented that violation of the right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment has remained one of Nigeria’s highest recorded human rights violations.

Ojukwu said: “A good number of complaints treated by the commission during the Independent Investigative Panel on Alleged Human Rights Violations by officers of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other units of the Nigeria Police relates to several incidents of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the police, and our records are there to show.”

He further stated that the commission has conducted several trainings and developed manuals on mainstreaming human rights in the operations of the law enforcement officials including those involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast.

Similarly, he said the commission has embarked on a series of advocacy visits and conducted inspections in detention facilities across the country to ensure that their operations are in line with international human rights standards.

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