NHRC caution security agents against impunity amidst COVID-19

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The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has sent caution to law enforcement agencies across the nation to not engage in any act of torture, cruel inhuman and other degrading treatments against the citizens as they follow the federal government directives to enforce the lockdown due to the spread of the CODVID19 pandemic.

The commision stated that, “for the purposes of clarity, Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading or Punishment which Nigeria is a signatory to, states that “each state party shall take effective, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

NHRC in a statement, said: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war, a threat of war, international political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. It is imperative to note that an order from a superior officer or public authority cannot provide an alibi for any security personnel to perpetuate acts of torture or cruel treatment against innocent citizens.”

NHRC among others, said, “The Commission affirms the measures taken by the State and Federal Governments to stem the tide of this contagious disease. We also commend the efforts of the various health workers who have exhibited professional and patriotic zeal to contain the virus and ensure the safety of all Nigerians. The Commission notes that the Federal and State Governments have in attempt to control the spread of this pandemic, employed some restrictive measures including total lockdown in some cases.“These measures are in the interest of the public and therefore should not in any way be abused by those charged with the responsibility of enforcing the directives.“We appeal to law enforcement agencies across the country to ensure that they carry out their lawful duties in this regard without unduly violating the rights of Nigerians.”In particular, any act of torture, cruel inhuman and other degrading treatments should not be employed in enforcing compliance.

For the purposes of clarity, Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading or Punishment which Nigeria is a signatory to, states that “each state party shall take effective, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction”.No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war, a threat of war, international political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”.

The Commission therefore calls on the security agencies to refrain from applying any form of torture or punishment that will further inflict pains on the already traumatised members of the public.

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