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Amnesty International condemns Nigerian police for alleged torture of suspects

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The Amnesty International (AI) has decried the alleged torture of suspects, by the Nigeria military and police, in order to get information.

The group said its arm in Nigeria has continued to receive regular reports of torture and other ill-treatment in military and police custody, despite an existing law against the use of torture.

A statement released by on Wednesday, 26 June 2019, by Amnesty International in commemoration with International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, said that “Nigerian authorities must do more to end the ongoing use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by law enforcement agencies”.

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“Despite recent government measures aimed at reducing the incidence of torture in the country, Amnesty International Nigeria continues to receive regular reports of torture and other ill-treatment in military and police custody. Moreover, victims are still being denied justice, with the Nigerian judicial system failing to prevent or punish torture, perpetuating a culture of impunity,” the statement said.

The report by Nigeria’s Channels Television on Wednesday, 26 June 2019, quoted the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, as saying in the statement that, although steps have been taken to address torture in Nigeria, including the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act in December 2017 and the setting up of the presidential panel on reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the use of torture by the police and others is still widespread.

“Our research also shows that despite an existing law against the use of torture, no police officer has been charged under the act. Moreover, the Nigerian police have yet to amend Force Order 237, which allows police officers to shoot at fleeing suspects, giving room for lethal use of force that sometimes leads to extrajudicial killings.

“On 5 March 2018, a high court in Ogidi, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State ordered the Nigeria Police Force to pay compensation to Ugochukwu Oraefo for extortion, illegal arrest, unlawful detention and torture after he was arrested by officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Awkuzu, Anambra state. The police have neither paid the victim nor ensured that the police officers involved have been brought to justice.

“Amnesty International highlighted rampant torture and ill-treatment, especially by the SARS police unit in the report: Nigeria: ‘You Have Signed Your Death Warrant’ in 2016, yet shocking incidents of torture still continue. Every now and then videos of police officers or soldiers torturing suspects surface and generate outrage,” the statement said.

The human rights group said it was time Nigerian authorities declare, in strong terms, that security personnel will be held accountable for torture and that victims of torture will get justice, including rehabilitation and compensation.

It recalled that in 2018, Nigerian activists launched a nationwide social media campaign #EndSARS, demanding an end to torture and other ill-treatment by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SAR), a special police squad created to fight armed robbery cases. In response, the police authorities acknowledged that SARS has been responsible for widespread violations and announced some reforms, while the government directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a panel to investigate the activities of SARS.

The panel submitted its report in May 2019.

It added that an Amnesty International poll in May 2019 indicated that 63 percent of poll respondents regard torture and unlawful killings by the police, as the most serious human rights violation they want the government to address.

– APA

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