The Committee against Torture (CAT) has urged the Federal Government to train judges and lawyers on the application of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Committee also expressed concern on “lack of information” on the application of the Convention by Nigeria’s courts, and on cases where the Convention has been directly applied by the domestic courts.
Rising from its 72nd meeting, CAT urged the Federal Government to “provide judicial officials and lawyers with specific training on applying the Convention directly and asserting the rights established in those provisions before the courts and submit information about specific cases in which the Convention has been invoked before the domestic courts in its next periodic report.”
While welcoming the enactment of the Anti-Torture Act that is applicable in the whole country, the Committee in its “Concluding observations in the absence of the initial report of Nigeria” noted that “it is concerned at the lack of information on the actual practice of direct application of the Convention by the domestic courts, and on cases where the Convention has been directly applied by the domestic courts (arts. 2 and 12).”
The Committee also expressed concern on the adopted definition of torture in Nigeria’s Anti-Torture Act, adding that contrary to the expectation of the Convention, a “specific purpose based on discrimination ground” is linked to the purpose of intimidation or coercion of an individual or a third party, rather than a standalone purpose.
Noting that the Anti-Torture Act “does not cover attempts to commit torture in accordance with Article 4 of the Convention and lacks specific provisions establishing statute of limitations and barring the amnesties and pardons for the acts of torture (arts. 1 and 4),” the Committee urged the Federal Government to “Continue to make efforts to bring its definition of torture fully into line with article 1 of the Convention and explicitly add the following separate purpose to the definition of torture: “or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind;” “Include criminalization of the attempts to commit torture in the Anti-Torture Act;” and “Clarify and ensure that there is no statute of limitations for the offence of torture explicitly provided in law in line with General Comment No. 3 (2012) on the implementation of article 14, and that torture is explicitly excluded from the scope of amnesty and pardon provisions.”
The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties. The Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee is currently chaired by Mr. Claude Heller.
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