Torture remains a global threat prohibited by numerous international organizations such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and The Human Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. While Nigeria’s constitution recognizes the right to respect for the dignity of a person which includes the right to not be subjected to torture, it is undeniable that the rate of inhumane treatment and torture which remains at a considerably high level, especially in Nigeria’s correctional facilities where individuals are systematically dehumanized. Involving important elements, it poses an intentional, immense mental and physical pain on the victim, mostly for the sole aim of obtaining information, confession or punishment.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has however inaugurated a National Committee Against Torture (NCAT), in a bid to fight this threat to human rights. The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, during this inauguration he explained that the members of this committee were expected to play an important role to enhance the stamping out of torture and other related crimes, as well as ensuring justice to the victims. On the failure of the previously established committee, Malami observed poor funding as the poignant cause, noting that adequate provision of funding to further ease the task of the committee was imperative.
NCAT assigned to curb torture in the country in accordance with UNCAT.
He stated that the National Committee Against Torture (NCAT) has been assigned with a huge mandate of curbing the problem of torture in the country in accordance with the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). Admitting the critical nature of the task, Malami revealed that the committee was at liberty of creating more dwelling areas as the need arises. He also revealed that the committee was empowered and permitted to work with the NHRC in the performance of this mandate, especially on cases where visiting the correctional service facilities are important.
Solicitor-General of the Federation and Chairperson of the NCAT, Beatrice Jedy-Agba however assured the Federal Government that the committee was overtly committed to satisfactorily implementing the designated terms of reference. The Executive Secretary of NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, SAN, also said that the NHRC’s intention of hosting the committee was in close line with the best international practices, as long as it enhances and brings immeasurable credibility to the works of the committee.
Access to correctional facilities, a challenge of previous committee.
Tony, speaking about the problem of the previously established committee, recalled that the problem associated with visits to the correctional service facilities was evidently a major challenge. He thus noted that it would be hugely beneficial, improving the committee’s ability to leverage on the powers of the commission to visit these correctional facilities. He further stated that it was important for the committee to also work collaboratively with MDAs, The Nigerian Bar Associations and Civil Society Organizations. The committee’s Terms of Reference are designed to engage and collaborate with the Committee Against Torture (CAT), as well as regional human rights mechanism in the context of country reporting.
The committee’s Terms of Reference also include interactive dialogues and facilitating visits by special procedure mandate holders or the subcommittees on the prevention of torture, organizing and facilitating the preparation of reports to CAT and human rights mechanisms. As well as responses to communications, follow up questions and recommendations received from the mechanism. The coordination of data collection and gathering information from government agencies, the National Assembly and Judiciary for reportage and follow ups.
Members of committee to ensure the fight against human rights abuse.
Others include receiving and considering communications of torture from individuals and government institutions, fostering and leading consultations for reportage and follow ups with the National Human Rights Commission and Civil Society Organizations. Members of the committee were selected from the Federal Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria Police Force, Legal Aid Council, National Correctional Service, Nigerian Bar Association and States Services amongst others. This established committee will thus be poignant in the country’s fight against abuse of human rights related issues.
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