Police torture is Nigeria’s national sport, shocking report reveals

2014-09-18 14:56

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A new report by Amnesty International paints a harrowing picture the Nigerian police and military’s favoured methods of torture.

“Welcome to hell fire”: Torture and other ill-treatment in Nigeria contains testimony from survivors who say officials use rape, starvation, electric shocks, choking and water torture.

Amnesty International said in a release about the report that people were often detained in large dragnet operations and tortured as punishment, to extort money or to extract “confessions” as a short-cut to “solve” cases.

“This goes far beyond the appalling torture and killing of suspected Boko Haram members. Across the country, the scope and severity of torture inflicted on Nigeria’s women, men and children by the authorities supposed to protect them is shocking to even the most hardened human rights observer,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director.

“Torture is not even a criminal offence in Nigeria.”

The report has been 10 years in the making.

The organisation said that torture is such a commonplace part of policing in the country that “many police stations have an informal ‘officer in charge of torture’ or O/C torture.

One 24-year-old woman interviewed by Amnesty International told shocked researchers that a female police officer fired tear gas into her vagina in a bid to make her confess – falsely – that she was an armed robber.

Of the hundreds of cases researched by Amnesty International, not one victim of torture or other ill-treatment was compensated or received other reparation from the Nigerian government.

Belay said: “Torture happens on this scale partly because no one, including in the chain of command, is being held accountable.”

The Nigerian government has set up at least five presidential committees and working groups over the last decade on reforming the criminal justice system and eradicating torture.

These groups’ recommendations have barely been implemented, if at all.

“Our message to the Nigerian authorities today is clear – criminalise torture,” Belay said.

“That would mark an important first step towards ending this abhorrent practice. It’s high time the Nigerian authorities show they can be taken seriously on this issue.”

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