By IHIDERO Victor Osae, Kaduna
Premised on the need to reduce extra-judicial punishments in the forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment of the peoples of Kaduna State and Nigeria in general, stakeholders from different sectors on Thursday during an inception meeting, launched an anti-torture network that will henceforth, among other things, provide support for victims of torture.
Some of the support and services expected to be rendered by the network includes: free legal services, free medical services, free media support for victims of torture, etc.
The network which is called “Network Against Torture, Kaduna State” will also support in the area of investigation wherever there cases of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The anti-torture network is made up of personnel of the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Prison Service, top judicial officials, media executives, National Human Rights Commission, members of the Nigerian Bar Association, Federation of Female Lawyers.
Others are: members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Nigerian Medical Association, and representatives of the state Ministry of Justice.
The network was a creation of a training programme on “Promoting the United Nations Convention Against Torture in Nigeria” organized by Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF), also known as Lawyers Without Borders France.
The France based organisation, has been providing legal support to Nigeria defendants and inmates who have been denied their right to fair trial or exposed to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatments, according to Angela Uwandu, head of office, ASF, Nigeria.
Uwandu, noted that in order to achieve the said objectives of the organisation , ASF France had assisted the local lawyers in the defence of critical cases and provides lawyers around the world with various types of training.
The network will also assist in building the capacity of the security agents and other stakeholders in the justice system on anti-torture mechanisms and create an effective system of protection for torture victims in Kaduna State.
It will also work with several other legal organizations for the recognition of human rights, such as presumption of innocence, right to a fair trial, implementation of the rule of law, and right to a counsel, in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, United Nations Convention Against Torture, law and the Human Rights as encapsulated in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
High point of the meeting was the appointments the executives the network. They include: Terngu Gwar, State Coordinator, Dr. Joseph Natsah Jokshan, State Secretary, Alex Uangbaoje, Communication/Madia Officer (1), Mrs. Mary David as the Treasurer/Financial Secretary and Mamman Nasir, Communication/Media Officer (2).