The Committee against Torture (CAT), a United Nations entity, has lamented Nigeria’s continued failure to comply with its reporting obligation under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In its latest report on torture in Nigeria, the Committee which operates under the ambit of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted that Nigeria’s failure has “precluded the Committee from assessing the implementation of the Convention by the State party on the basis of the Government’s report.”
The Committee also observed that the Federal Government has for almost 20 years failed to submit a report on torture even when it was urged to “accept the simplified reporting procedure to assist it in preparing such report.”
While the Committee noted that the Federal Government in 2012 provided it with information on the establishment, mandate and conducted activities of the National Committee against Torture, the Committee bemoaned the persistent neglect by Nigeria of its reporting obligations, saying: “The Committee however regrets that the State party has failed to meet its reporting obligations under article 19 of the Convention for more than 19 years, which precluded the Committee from assessing the implementation of the Convention by the State party on the basis of the Government’s report.”
It also noted that “Notwithstanding the commitments made by the State party following the 2018 universal periodic review of the Human Rights Council to strengthen the implementation of its international obligations and cooperation with human rights protection mechanisms, in particular by reporting to all treaty bodies (see A/HRC/40/7/Add.1, para. 148.15-18), the Committee regrets that the State party has not yet complied with its reporting obligations under the Convention.”
Tracing its longstanding efforts to get the Federal Government to comply with its reporting obligations, the Committee noted that Nigeria acceded to the Convention on 28 June 2001, adding that “The State party was under an obligation to submit its initial report under article 19 (1) of the Convention by 28 June 2002. Each year thereafter, Nigeria was included in the list of States parties with overdue reports in the annual report, which the Committee submits to the States parties and the General Assembly.
Continuing, the Committee said: “By a letter dated 27 June 2012, the Committee reminded the State party about the overdue initial report and the possibility for the Committee to proceed with a review in the absence of a report as a result of the extended delay in its submission. On 10 December 2012, the State party sent a response to the Committee with information on the establishment, mandate and conducted activities of the National Committee against Torture, as follow-up to the letter sent to the Committee by the Chairman of the National Committee against Torture in Nigeria on 26 September 2012.”
Said the Committee: “By a letter of 30 September 2019, the Committee once again reminded the State party about the overdue initial report and the possibility for the Committee to proceed with a review in the absence of its overdue report and invited the State party to accept the simplified reporting procedure to assist it in preparing such report. In the absence of a reply, the Committee informed the State party about its decision to proceed to the review of the implementation of the Convention in the absence of the State party’s report at its seventy-first session by two subsequent letters of 9 December 2019 and 27 March 2020.”
According to the Committee’s report, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the functioning of treaty bodies and in-person sessions, by a letter of 5 October 2020, the Committee informed the State party about the postponement and rescheduling of the State party review for the seventy-second session. On 10 September 2021, the Committee once again informed the State party of the possibility of reviewing the situation in the State party in the absence of a report at its seventy-second session, in accordance with rule 67 of its rules of procedure. The Committee welcomes the State party’s response confirming its participation in the seventy-second session sent on 22 October 2021 and its subsequent participation in the dialogue.”
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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