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Torture and other ill-treatment have always been pervasive within the Nigerian criminal justice system. During the last decades, the country has faced repeated political unrest characterised by massive violence. This includes the current violence unleashed by the terrorist group Boko Haram, which has been responsible for killings, sexual violence, forced displacement and torture of civilians and members of the security forces. At the same time, the fight against Boko Haram has provoked multiple violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The Nigeria Police, and particularly its Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the military, and the State Security Service (SSS) continue to subject detainees to torture and other ill-treatment.
The OMCT has been working for the last 15 years with its SOS-Torture Network member Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN) to analyse and monitor the implementation of the prohibition and prevention of torture in the prison system and various security operations. Our work has also focused on the protection of children from torture and ill-treatment. This led to the publication of a 2005 report on children’s rights, in which OMCT and CLEEN analysed national law in terms of the international commitments that a government has made. In recent years, children have been the main victims of torture in Nigeria. They have been used as fighters by Boko Haram and have also been victims of operations by the security forces. Twenty years after ratifying the Convention Against Torture, Nigeria was slated to be reviewed for the first time by the UN Committee Against Torture in November 2020, but the session was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.