On 9 November, the UN Human Rights Council called on Nigeria to provide rehabilitation to victims of torture. This follows intense efforts by IRCT member, Prisoners Rehabilitation And Welfare Action (PRAWA), to draw attention to the issue so that victims can get the support they need to rebuild their lives.

Each year, PRAWA supports more than 300 victims but this only reaches a fraction of the victims in need. Therefore, it is crucial that the Government establishes an adequately resourced rehabilitation programme. In March 2019, Nigeria will have to explaintothe Human Rights Council how it intends to implement the recommendation.

“We are very pleased that the UN is drawing attention to the many problems related to torture and ill-treatment in Nigeria and we encourage the Government to take serious its responsibility to implement these recommendations. In particular, the Government should take immediate action to ensure that torture victims get the rehabilitation to which they are entitled,” said Ogechi Ogu, Deputy Director of PRAWA.

The recommendations were issued by the Universal Periodic Review a mechanism established to regularly examine the human rights record of all UN member states. They focus extensively on eradicating torture including through better prison monitoring, better implementation of the national anti-torture law and decriminalisation of petty offences to keep people out of prison.

During a visit to Geneva, PRAWA and the IRCT met with diplomats and UN officials to brief on the situation in Nigeria and how the Human Rights Council can best support concrete changes on the ground. The recommendations issued to Nigeria are an important first step that must be followed by implementation and rigorous monitoring.

“We are very pleased to see the Human Rights Council raising torture victims right to rehabilitation with Nigeria and hope that the Government will identify concrete steps to implement the recommendation. Looking ahead, it will be essential to put in place strong tools for civil society to monitor implementation and raise international attention if victims do not receive the support they are entitled to”, said Asger Kjaerum, Advocacy Director at the IRCT.

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