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Stakeholders canvas implementation of anti-torture act

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… as NHRC slams police, NSCDC

Stakeholders in protection and promotion of human rights in Enugu State have called for urgent implementation of anti-torture act in the security formations in the state.

The stakeholders who were drawn from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Police, Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Attorney General, Nigerian Correctional Service, Military, DSS, NDLEA and CSOs, made the demand on Monday during a 1-day stakeholders round table meeting on human rights and implementation of anti-torture act, organised by Avocats Sans Frontieres France – Lawyers without borders in Enugu.

This is just as the Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Enugu State, Dr. Valentine Madubuko, has narrated an ugly experience with the officers of the Enugu State Police command, whom he alleged battered him for visiting police stations to see detainees on illegal detention.

Madubuko, who emphasised the need for urgent implementation of anti-torture act, had told the stakeholders that it was unfortunate that despite several outcry of Nigerians, security agents had continued with the violation of human rights in Nigeria with impunity.

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According to him, on one of the occasions when he and his staff visited police cells to look out for detainees in illegal detention, officers in the command descended on him and his staff for daring to visit.

He said, “The police allow us to do periodic visits to their cells only when the IG gives approval. We’re finding it difficult to work with the police regarding identifying victims of illegal detentions and torture. We have a lot matters in the police but they’re treated with levity.

“I have been beaten up before by the police because we went there to talk and check on people on illegal detention and those suffering torture”.

While hailing the military, DSS and Correctional Service for cooperating with the commission, Madubuko also slammed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in the state for also giving them problem.

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But in a resolution at the end of the meeting, the stakeholders recommended among other things, the need for law enforcement and judiciary to implement the anti-torture act in their jurisdictions.

It also recommended that lawyers should be given free access to intervene at the earliest stage in respect of the Force order 20 which established the PDSS (Police Duty Solicitor Scheme).

While calling for efforts to be made to improve the welfare of the police officers to enable them function better, the stakeholders also stated that officers of security agencies must be well equipped in tackling evidence gathering.

It also called for the media to be used in a very productive way to spotlight human rights challenges, adding “more efforts should be made towards improving the awareness of the anti-torture act both by the public and the security agencies through Trainings and sensitization.”

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