Nigeria’s security forces have been in crisis for a decade, battling Islamists in the north, separatists and oil militias in the south, and a wave of organised crime. Amid the chaos, the State’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) became notorious for torturing citizens with complete impunity, leading to a wave of mass protests across the country, that were met with more police violence, torture and extrajudicial killings.
Amid the national outrage, IRCT member PRAWA played a leading role in convincing the Nigerian government to disband the unit in 2020 and retrain its officers. The National Human Rights Commission subsequently set up Independent Investigative Panels, at both state and federal level, to gather evidence of torture and ill-treatment and other human rights violations committed by SARS. PRAWA’s director was appointed as a member of the federal investigative panel. IRCT and PRAWA provided online trainings to both sets of panels on how to engage effectively and respectfully with victims, how to collect and assess evidence of torture using the Istanbul Protocol and how to determine and award meaningful reparations.
As a result of the trainings, the IRCT was requested to provide technical support to the federal and state-level panels responsible for investigating and issuing recommendations for reparation, accountability and prevention. The Investigative Panels are now finishing their work, states have begun paying survivors damages, and the IRCT is analysing the evidence gathered.