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US lists 12 states yet to ban torture of suspects in Nigeria

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A report by the United States Department of State has listed twelve states in Nigeria that are yet to ban the torture of suspects, even after the Federal Government signed a law in 2015 criminalising the torture of suspects by security operatives.

The 47-page report, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2020 United States Department of State from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor”, was released on Wednesday.

According to the US report, contrary to global best practices of not subjecting suspects to torture or poor treatment in a bid to obtain evidence, twelve states in Nigeria, namely; Gombe, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Taraba, Jigawa, Borno, Kebbi, Niger, Imo, and Ebonyi were yet to ban the act.

The report read: “The constitution and law prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. A 2017 law defines and specifically criminalizes torture. The law prescribes offenses and penalties for any person, including law enforcement officers, who commits torture or aids, abets, or by act or omission is an accessory to torture.

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“It also provides a basis for victims of torture to seek civil damages. A 2015 law prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of arrestees; however, it fails to prescribe penalties for violators.

“Each state must also individually adopt the legislation compliant with the 2015 law for the legislation to apply beyond the Federal Capital Territory and federal agencies. Two-thirds of the country’s states (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, and Rivers) had adopted compliant legislation.

“Local nongovernmental organisations and international human rights groups accused the security services of illegal detention, inhuman treatment, and torture of criminal suspects, militants, detainees, and prisoners.

“Police used a technique commonly referred to as ‘parading’ of arrestees, which involved walking arrestees through public spaces and subjecting them to public ridicule and abuse. Bystanders sometimes taunted and hurled food and other objects at arrestees.”

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