UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Nigeria (CAT 21 December 2021)

In the absence of the initial report of the State party, the Committee considered the status of implementation of the Convention in Nigeria at its 1852nd and 1855th meetings, held on 16 and 17 November 2021. In accordance with rule 67, paragraph 3, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the Committee notified the State party that it intended to examine the measures taken to protect or give effect to the rights recognized in the Convention in the absence of a report and to adopt concluding observations. The Committee discussed information obtained from national and international sources, including other United Nations mechanisms, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 1868th meeting, held on 26 November 2021.

Concluding observations in the absence of the initial report of Nigeria

C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations

13. The Committee appreciates the ongoing efforts to reform the police, including the enactment of the Police Act and the revision of Police Order 237 incorporating international standards, but it remains concerned at reports of the excessive use of force, including lethal force by shooting, leading to extrajudicial killings during arrests or in policing demonstrations. It is also concerned at the growing militarization of policing activities through joint operations, including during the #EndSARS protests held in Lagos on 20 October 2020, in the context of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the COVID19 pandemic, which led to 38 complaints of extrajudicial killings to the National Human Rights Commission, and in response to other demonstrations that have been held in southeastern states. The Committee is deeply concerned at allegations of gross misconduct by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force. It notes the State party’s response to these allegations, such as commissioning the National Human Rights Commission to conduct investigations, establishing judicial panels of inquiry at the federal and state level, and the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. The Committee observes that the judicial panels reportedly received 2,500 complaints of torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and extrajudicial killings, but remains concerned that no reports on investigations into these complaints have been made public, and at the lack of accountability for these acts. Reportedly, some of the panels stopped sitting due to a lack of funding. The Committee is also concerned at the use of a law of 2014 by the police against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons to legitimize arbitrary arrest and detention, among other things; at reports of arbitrary detention of persons who are neither charged nor convicted of crimes; at reports of the ill-treatment of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in public institutions and private settings, including religious and traditional healing centres; and at the ill-treatment inflicted on drug users, particularly by members of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and in drug rehabilitation facilities (arts. 1–2, 11–14 and 16).

14. The State party is urged to:

(a) Ensure that law enforcement and security forces personnel continue to
receive training on the absolute prohibition of torture and on the use of force, including Police Order 237, taking into account the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials;

(b) Make the findings of the judicial panels of inquiry public, ensure that
allegations of abuses committed by police, Special Anti-Robbery Squad officers andsecurity forces employed in the policing activities are immediately investigated by an independent body and provide disaggregated information on prosecutions, full redress provided to victims, and the resources allocated for that purpose; 

(c) Stop and investigate arbitrary detentions and assaults against persons
with disabilities, drug users or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and investigate those incidents, prosecute alleged perpetrators and provide effective remedies to the victims.

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