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Nigeria: UN torture prevention body concludes its high level advisory visit, as a first step to strengthen the national capacity to prevent torture

Abuja, 3 April 2014. – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture completed today a high level advisory visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The visit, which took place from 1 to 3 April 2014, focussed on talks with the authorities in order to assist in the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT), which Nigeria ratified in 2009.

For this special visit, the SPT was represented by Mr. Malcolm EVANS, Chairperson of the SPT, Mr. Víctor MADRIGAL-BORLOZ, SPT country rapporteur on Nigeria, as well as the Secretary of the SPT and the SPT staff member in charge of Nigeria.

The SPT held meetings with government officials and had technical discussions with some relevant ministries to seek their views regarding the effectiveness of the measures so far taken to bring Nigeria into compliance with its obligations to prevent torture and ill-treatment. The SPT met with the National Committee on Torture, which was designated as a National Preventive Mechanism - a body which OPCAT requires to be independent and which must have the authority and the capacity to visit any place where persons are deprived of their liberty.  The SPT also met with the National Human Rights Commission and members of civil society.

"We have been pleased to have had the opportunity to find out more about the mechanism which is said to act as the NPM under the optional protocol. We have underlined our commitment to work with the authorities and offer our advice and assistance in order to ensure that there is in place an independent and effective national preventive mechanism, established in compliance with Nigeria’s treaty obligations. It is imperative that such a mechanism has a preventive mandate and is able to visit any place where persons are deprived of their liberty. Our visit has enabled us to understand both the need and the challenge and we welcome the assurance that there is now a willingness to advance this important agenda in a purposeful fashion”, stated Malcolm EVANS at the conclusion of the visit.

“We encountered deeply divergent views concerning the nature and extent of ill treatment, coupled with a lack of consensus regarding how the problem ought to be addressed.  We were pleased to hear that many are already convinced that the establishment of an independent NPM in accordance with the OPCAT would offer an ideal way forward. We share this view and believe that the time has now come to finally bring these obligations to life and to commence the journey along path of effective prevention”.

The Subcommittee will submit its confidential report to the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, containing its observations and recommendations arising from the visit.  

For more information on the mandate of Subcommittee, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cat/pages/catindex.aspx