The Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Beatrice Jeddy-Agba, has called on judges and prosecutors in the country to ensure full implementation of the Anti-Torture Act (2017).
Beatrice, who was represented by Mrs. Roseline Tasha, spoke at a workshop for judges and prosecutors organised by Sterling Law Centre on Tuesday in Abuja.
She noted that the implementation of the Act has yet to meet the reality it espouses.
Beatrice admonished the participants to stand up against the violation of human rights in the country.
“I encourage each one of you to actively engage, share your thoughts, and provide invaluable insights during the course of this workshop. Let this be a space for candid dialogue, constructive criticism, and, most importantly, the formulation of practical strategies to bridge the implementation gap,” she charged.
Since 1975, Nigeria has been a signatory to the “United Nations Treaty Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” which prohibits torturing suspects to extract information, or to subdue them.
Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly (a) No person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
The Anti-Torture Act was established to put an end to torture and other forms of inhuman treatment. However, many people in country have fallen victims to inhuman treatment by security operatives.
“This legislation, born out of our collective commitment to human rights, stands as a testament to our pledge to eradicate the scourge of torture from our society,” she said.
Also, in his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Chief Anthony Okechukwu, represented by Mr. Kabir Elayo, stated that the Anti-Torture Act is yet to translate into impactful implementation.
“The Anti-Torture Act, with its noble intent and commitment to the eradication of torture, stands as a testament to our collective dedication to upholding human rights.
” However, as we gather here today, it is essential to confront a stark reality—the beautiful platitudes of the Act have not yet translated into the impactful implementation we envisioned,” he said.
In his recommendation, the Country Director, Amnesty International, Mr. Isah Sanusi encouraged the government to put effective training and framework in place for investigations by security operatives.
“Training and framework for investigations should be put in place. The security agencies should use modern and sophisticated methods to get information from suspects,” he said.
He also encouraged the people suffering from such torture to device a means to protect themselves, by recording and document the processes involved in their torture.
A retired judge of the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice Ibrahim Bubba, noted that, apart from the security operatives involved in the act of torture, inmates also perpetrate torture and there is a need for the Anti-Torture Act to take cater for that. He also stated that, there is need for prosecutors and judges to look at the confessional statement and interrogate the statement for evidence of torture during trials.
“Let us thoroughly interrogate confessional statements when they are presented before us as prosecutors. For instance, why will a sane man deny an act five times and all of a sudden admit to the crime? he stated.
He encouraged the prosecutors and judges to carry out trial within trial to ensure that victims of torture standing trials in court get the needed justice.
He also advocated for citizens’ education in the justice system.
“The citizens should be educated and informed on their rights,” he said.