Civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the federal government to ensure that victims of toture are adequately compensated and rehabilitated.
While speaking in Abuja to commemorate this year’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, tagged “Archiving Zero Tolerance for Toture”, the Country Director of Avocats Sans Frontiers (ASF), Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, said there must be justice for victims of torture.
Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, who said there should be adequate compensation and rehabilitation for victims of toture, said perpetrators must also be made to face the wrath of the law.
She said: “Government must demonstrate a strong commitment to this. Justice in this respect, is a three-way traffic.
“That is, justice for the victim through adequate reparation or compensation and rehabilitation; accountability for the perpetrator who should also be made to pay compensation, and justice to the taxpayer or society which seeks a reassurance that law enforcement agencies and security operatives will respect the rule of law and the rights of citizens and would subject no one to toture no matter the alleged crime.”
She stressed that it was necessary that criminal actions be instituted under the Anti-Torture Act (ATA), 2017 against perpetrators of toture.
She said that the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies should strengthen internal mechanisms for holding security operatives accountable for acts of toture.
Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, who expressed concern that some of the victims of toture are afraid to report the matter due to fear of reprisal, enjoined government at all levels to ensure these people are given adequate protection.
Also, the Executive Director, Sterling Centre for Law and Development, Deji Ajare, called on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to ensure the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of toture.
Ajare urged the AGF to adopt the implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Anti-Torture Act and to budget and provide funding for the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) to fulfil its functions.
The chairman of NCAT, Dr Samson Ameh, SAN, said Nigeria set up the committee for the prevention of torture in compliance with its obligation under the United Nations Convention.
Ameh, however, said that inadequate funding had hampered its operations.
For her part, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, said that the ministry had recorded convictions against security agencies that acted arbitrarily against the Anti-Torture Act.
Jedy-Agba, represented by Mr Yusuf Abdullahi, an officer in the Department of Public Prosecution, stressed that confessional statements must be obtained voluntarily, otherwise, it might not be tenable before a trial court.
She urged Nigerians not to relent in writing petitions to the NCAT anytime their rights are violated.