Press Release, 26 June 2017
The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (“NCICC”) commemorates the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture today, 26th June 2017, which marks the day the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“UN CAT”) came into effect in 1987. Since its passing, the UN CAT has been ratified by 162 countries including Nigeria; however torture persists both worldwide and within the country despite its absolute prohibition under international law.
For NCICC, this is a day to call for renewed and increased support to victims of torture.
To this end, NCICC urges the Nigerian National Assembly to prioritize the passage of the Anti-Torture Bill and domesticate the UN CAT so as to ensure a legal framework exists in Nigeria for the prevention of torture. We remind honorable members of the National Assembly that under the UN CAT, torture is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances- whether in a state of war, a threat of war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency or national security situation. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on States regardless of their ratification or otherwise, of torture related international treaties.
NCICC further urges the Nigerian Government therefore, to strengthen the National Committee Against Torture established in 2010 which has since been moribund. We must highlight Article 14 of the UN CAT, which stipulates the obligation of States to ensure that a victim of torture under their jurisdiction obtains redress, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In addition, Nigeria has an obligation under international law to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture. Such obligations necessitate a specialized committee to handle anti-torture matters.
Finally we must emphasize that the systematic practice of torture in any State constitutes a crime against humanity. Yet, there are wide reports of torture perpetrated by the Nigerian Military, from hundreds of victims around the country. NCICC thus condemns the recent report of the Nigerian Army Panel denying torture and respectfully urges the Nigerian Government to set up an Independent Judicial Inquiry into these allegations. This inquiry will ultimately begin the process to seeing to justice for victims of torture in Nigeria.