By Isiyaku Ahmed
Avocats Sans Frontières France/Lawyers Without Borders France (ASF France) joins the global Human Rights community and the world at large in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2020. This is contained in press release singed by Angela Uwandu, ASF France Head of Office in Nigeria.
In the release, ASF France reiterates that the use of torture by security agencies is against the principles of International Law as enunciated by the United Nations Convention Against Torture. It is also prohibited by Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution and further criminalized by the Anti-Torture Act 2017 which prescribes a punishment of up to 25 years imprisonment for perpetrators.
ASF France Head of Office in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu says “we must change the narrative of the seemingly institutionalized use of torture as a means of investigation and eliciting confessions by security agents as the use of torture is not only inherently inhuman and illegal, but also has a lasting psychological impact on survivors. Non-implementation of the Anti-Torture Act three years after its enactment contributes to the impunity in the regular use of torture,”.
True justice in torture cases can only be attained where victims obtain redress for the violations of their fundamental rights and perpetrators held accountable for these abuses. ASF France therefore, calls for concerted effort and collaboration by stakeholders in the justice system for the implementation of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 and to strengthen the National Prevention Mechanism as stipulated by the Optional Protocol on the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).
ASF France, she says, “remains committed to providing access to justice for victims of torture on the platform of its SAFE and ProCAT projects in Nigeria. Between 2014 and 2020, ASF France has provided access to justice for 816 victims of torture in Nigeria.
SAFE is targeted at addressing human rights violations of torture, extra-judicial killings and arbitrary detentions.
ProCAT seeks to promote the ideals of the United Nations Convention Against Torture of which Nigeria is a signatory, and which absolutely prohibits the use of torture by security agents. Both projects are operational in Enugu, Edo, Imo, Kaduna and Lagos States.
The SAFE and ProCAT projects are supported by the European Union and the United Nations Voluntary Funds for Victims of Torture respectively.