Alert: Urgent call to lift Covid-19 related restrictions in places of detention

Nigeria: Words without Deeds?

Joint Alternative Report for the 72nd session of the UN Committee against Torture

Twenty years after ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture in 2001, Nigeria will be reviewed for the first time during the 72nd session of the Committee against Torture (CAT). The country has developed a strong legal framework prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment over the past years. Commendably, it enacted in 2017 an anti-torture law in compliance with the requirements of the Convention. Nigeria has also created a National Committee on the Prevention of Torture that plays the role of a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).

Unfortunately, in spite of these legal steps, the use of torture by security agencies in Nigeria remains widespread and could even be qualified as systemic in some circumstances. Accountability mechanisms for perpetrators of torture remain weak or non-existent. Physical, mental and psychological torture as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are regularly used at different levels of arrest, interrogation and in places of detention. Unfettered access to detention facilities remains a huge challenge negatively affecting oversight and monitoring activities. There are no established governmental mechanisms for the rehabilitation of victims or survivors of torture.

Generally, the Covid-19 pandemic aggravated issues of torture as the social distance protocols limited access to detention facilities. Activities of non-State actors and terrorist groups in the country introduced disturbing dimensions to the issues of torture, especially regarding who can perpetrate torture vis-à-vis the obligations of law enforcement agents in Nigeria.

This alternative report submitted in application to article 19 of the UN Committee against Torture is the result of a preparatory workshop carried out from September 26 to 30, 2021 in Abuja. It involved around 27 civil society organisations acting throughout the country and committed to the protection of human rights and the fight against torture, the fight against violence against women and the protection of children and migrants. This workshop took place in the presence of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and representatives of various government institutions including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defense and Security Forces.

Nigeria is scheduled as a non-reporting State, as it never submitted its initial report to the CAT.

Read the full report here.

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