Torture victims recount ordeal, seek prosecution of perpetrators

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Abuja

The Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has called on government at all levels to ensure rehabilitation of torture victims and prosecution of perpetrators.

The Executive Director, PRAWA, Dr Uju Agomoh made the call during a training for Medical and Legal Practitioners on Medico-Legal documentation and rehabilitation of torture victims, on Monday in Abuja.

Agomoh said PRAWA had been pushing for torture victims to be heard, adding that the capacity building was to build strategies and have a core group to drive the campaign.

She said that the training would offer the participants the necessary skills and competency to properly document cases of torture in the country.

The executive director said records of proper investigation of torture and treatment of victims were necessary in building concrete evidence for prosecution of perpetrators.

“Basically, we have to keep pushing as we have lawyers in this training aside medical practitioners.

“So, it is a question of ensuring that there is a strong coordination and collaboration between legal profession, psychologists, and medical doctors and of course the lawyers in the paralegal.

“Imagine having the real fact, so that once you go to court, you are ready to roll.

“I think it is wrong not to prosecute all the perpetrators, once you don’t do that, it is like accepting impunity, it will continue like that.

“We are also pushing that everyone charged for such offence should be duly prosecuted, they should also be sanctioned when found guilty, because that is really the key thing, “she said.

Earlier, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba, said there was need to recognise that torture victims require medical and psycho-social support.

According to her, it is not enough to punish perpetrators of torture without providing necessary support for the victims.

She therefore said that the training would help to develop a framework for providing medical, psycho-social and legal support to victims of torture.

“This is because they need to also seek legal remedy for all they have been through. This is timely at a time when we are reviewing our anti-torture legislation and the policy framework.

“Government is doing a lot at least to reduce it to barest minimum.”

The solicitor-general said that the issue of torture reduction had been infused into the training manual of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS).

“We are working on strategic engagement like stakeholders workshops, training and retraining to ensure that they understand that having coercive force doesn’t give you the power to do as you like.

“Nigeria like other countries in the global community has obligations to ensure that citizens are free from torture in line with the commitments we have made and in line with the Constitutions as well.

“Obviously, there will also be recalcitrant law enforcement agencies but I think that once punitive measures are handed out, this will bring the incidence to the barest minimum,” she added.

A torture victim, Mrs Oluwafunsho Adeniyi, said the National Assembly should review existing laws to provide stringent punishment for perpetrators of torture and their collaborators.

Adeniyi believes that if adequate sanctions are provided, those who believe that torture is normal would come to their senses.

“Government agencies that have the capabilities to address this torture issue should do more and be accessible to ordinary persons like me.

“As a victim of torture, I don’t know if there is anyone stopping torture from being done to people.

“I had an issue with my ex-husband regarding the custody of our children, he went to report and claim that I am a kidnapper, and that I kidnapped our own children.

“He has been using the Police to torture me and my family,” she added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was organised by PRAWA, UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, Independent Forensic Expert Group, and International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

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