The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has stated that for whatever reasons, violations of human rights are not acceptable because torture is a clear assault on the inherent dignity and fundamental freedoms of the persons.
Malami who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata stated this at the Commemoration of the 2018 UN International Day Against Torture in Nigeria-in Support of Victims of Torture on Tuesday at the Ministry in Abuja.
In a press statement by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, the Special Adviser to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and made available to newsmen, the Minister added that the violations of human rights is wicked, dehumanizing and has been criminalized in Nigeria with the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act 2017.
He noted that, “the right to freedom from torture is non-negotiable, however, the application of torture to extract confession from suspects or as a way of punishment amounts to by-pass of the judicial process by not subjecting the suspects to the time- honored practice of trial suspects in the regular courts”.
According to the AGF, “Section 34 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended stipulates that, “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly: No person shall be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, no person shall be held to slavery or servitude and no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.”
He explained that, “the Anti- Torture Act is an Act to penalize the act of torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment and prescribed penalties for such acts and related matters, was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 29, 2017.
The Act is in furtherance of administration’s commitment to the promotion and protection of the Fundamental Human Rights of all Nigerians as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s International Human Rights Treaty obligations”.
“Section 12 of the Act states that the Attorney General of the Federation shall with the approval of the President make Rules and Regulations for the effective implementation of this Act.
”These implementing rules and regulations (IRR) have been drafted in such a manner to the Act simple appreciation to the Act. Key provisions have been repeated and clarified, he further informed.”
Malami stressed that there is no doubt about the commitment of the administration in ensuring that acts of Torture are identified and penalized wherever and whenever it occurs.
The Minister further disclosed that the Convention against torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (the Torture Convention) which Nigeria was a signatory, was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1984.
“The Convention is an important step in the process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging that torture , inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is universally illegal.
“Its prohibition is important because it is not permitted even in terms of war”, he emphasized.
According to Malami, Nigeria is a State Party to a range of International and regional human rights instrument which prohibits torture and ill treatment, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention Against Torture and other cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment (UNCAT) and its Optional Protocol, the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons Enforced disappearance.
In his remark earlier, Chairman, National Committee Against Torture, Dr. Samson Sani Ameh (SAN) said that the mandate of the Committee is visiting places of detention in Nigeria promptly and impartially in other to examine any allegation therein, to receive and consider communications on torture from individuals, CSOs and Government Institutions.
Ameh disclosed that it is equally “to ensure that Education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individuals subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.”
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Anthony Ojukwu explained that the violation of the right to freedom of torture, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment has over the years remained one of the highest recorded violations against law enforcement agents.
He disclosed that the Commission has kickstart the process of interventions which includes; fact finding visit to detention facilities across the country and public hearing or interface on operations of SARS, the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act 2017 by the National Assembly which is a response to outcries about torture across the country amongst others.
Also in attendance were Chairperson, FIDA, Mrs. Ikenga Ngozi, Chairperson, African Women Lawyers, Mrs. Olanike Bakrin, representative of the Inspector General of Police, ACP. Anyanwu Cosmas, Director General, NAPTIP represented by Mrs. Doris Mbanefo and Chairman, Human Right Agenda Network , Chinnonye Obiagwu among others.