ASF France to support war against torture with more budgetary allocation

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The Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France, on Tuesday, said it was ready to make available more budgetary support in the fight against toture and extra-judicial killings.


Ivan Paneff, Vice President of ASF France, otherwise known as Lawyers Without Borders, made the remarks in Abuja during a press briefing to mark the end of SAFE Project intervention it launched since 2019.


The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the programme; “Strengthening the National Actors Capacity and Advocating for Ending Severe Human Rights Violations in Nigeria (SAFE) Project,” was piloted in three states; Lagos, Enugu and Kaduna.


Paneff said that the justice system in Nigeria cannot be reformed without the full participation of all the stakeholders, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).


He said the organisation was committed to building the capacity of the stakeholders in the justice and security sectors as part of the measures to solving the problem.
“We must also develop communication process with the citizens, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media through meetings and discussions,” he said.


Ruben Aguilera, Head of Governance, Peace and Migration Section of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the security challenges in the country had worsened the increasing cases of human rights abuse.


“As a result of this multiple security challenges, the Nigerian security agency is overstretched,” he said.
Aguilera said the EU was committed to partner with the CSOs, including the ASF, to stem the tide of toture and extra-judicial killings.


Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, the Head of Office of ASF France in Nigeria, expressed concern over the increasing cases of torture and extra-judicial killings in the country.


Uzoma-Iwuchukwu also decried the number of awaiting trial inmates languishing in various prisons across the country.


She said despite the promulgation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) in 2015, security agencies continued to use torture as a strategy to extract extra-judicial statement from suspects.


She said the group deployed its officials in Enugu, Lagos and Kaduna States for the concluded project.
“The SAFE project’s major thematic issues were; torture, arbitrary detention and extra-judicial killings and the project has a pro-bono legal aid component to ensure access to justice for victims.


“On the project, 167 cases were identified for pro-bono legal aid, of which 120 were approved for litigation and 47 were approved for legal advice.


“These are cases of victims of torture, arbitrary detention and extra-judicial killings across the project states.
“Of all the cases, we were able to conclude 40 of them. Because of the peculiar way our judiciary operates, some of the cases suffered delays because they had to start de-novo (afresh) owing to either the death or transfer of the judges handling them.


“We equally filed three suits before the ECOWAS Court. We also secured the unconditional release of 23 persons that were arbitrarily detained without trial,” she said.


Uzoma-Iwuchukwu said though the ACJA had been trying to address the issue of arbitrary detention, she said “from the field, we observed that undue prolonged detention is one of the major human right violation in Nigeria.”


On its part, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) said it received over 13,000 complaints, levelling sundry allegations of human rights violations against its officers.


It said the petitions were received from members of the public, through its Complaint Response Unit (CRU).
ASP, Aliyu Umar, who represented the NPF, said most of the petitions were received through social media platforms that included Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.(NAN)

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