How would you carry out the police reform

Nigeria: Despite reforms - police torture is routine

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Donors USA and Great Britain, however, uncritical about mistreatment

(Lagos, July 27, 2005) - Torture is the order of the day among the Nigerian police despite democratic reforms. This practice has continued since the era of military rule, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

Police officers in high and low ranks would routinely perform or order torture of suspects. The human rights organization urged foreign governments funding police reform in Nigeria to be more critical of police abuse.
 
The 76-page report "Rest in Pieces: Police Torture and Deaths in Custody in Nigeria," is based on interviews with over 50 victims and eyewitnesses. It is the first comprehensive investigation on the subject and documents brutal torture and ill-treatment in police custody, which means death for dozens of people.
 
"The killing and police violence has been watched for far too long," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "If the Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, wants to show the world that he is seriously concerned about law and order, then he must ensure that police officers are brought to justice for torture."
 
Most of the victims were arrested and tortured to extract confessions from a government campaign against petty crime, according to Human Rights Watch. The torture is carried out in police stations across Nigeria, often in interrogation rooms that are specially equipped for this purpose.
 
The human rights organization documented the following types of torture: shackling arms and legs behind the body, hanging hands and legs from the ceiling, punishment with objects made of wood or metal, spraying tear gas in the eyes, shooting in the foot or a leg, rape of female inmates and the use of forceps or electric shocks on the penis.
 
In addition, eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that dozens of inmates died from their injuries or were executed while in police custody.
 
“They handcuffed me and handcuffed me so my hands were behind my knees. Then they hung me on a hook in the wall, ”said a 23-year-old who was arrested in Enugu in June 2004. “Then they beat me and stuck a broom's bristle into my penis until the blood oozed out. They then sprinkled tear gas powder on a cloth and tied it around my eyes. They said that if I did not confess that I was the robber, they would shoot me. The whole thing took hours. "
 
Most of the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch were ordinary criminal suspects. It is typical of their cases that there have been no corresponding legal proceedings, it says in the report. The police did not explain to the suspects why they were arrested or provide lawyers. In addition, they would have been kept in custody for an extremely long time. When the accused were on trial, the judges and authorities accepted the confessions made under torture.
 
“The inspector hit me with a belt and a wooden stick. She hit my whole body and face countless times, ”said a 31-year-old who was arrested in Lagos in January. “Two other officers watched. These officers handcuffed me and hung me on a hook on the ceiling. The inspector kept hitting me and spraying tear gas into my private parts. She said that in my life I would never have peace again because I was a liar. She wanted me to admit that I betrayed my boss and stole money. "
 
In Nigeria, torture by the police is widely accepted because it has been used for so long, Human Rights Watch said. A culture of impunity would protect the perpetrators. When victims and others tried to be held accountable, the police would pursue, intimidate and obstruct them. Since there is no independent body to investigate ill-treatment by the police, the perpetrators could avoid prosecution, the human rights organization criticizes. Not a single police officer has stood successfully on trial for torture in Nigeria in recent years.
 
“The US and UK have invested millions in Nigerian security agencies. But the police methods have hardly changed since the end of military rule, ”criticized Takirambudde. “Diplomatic relations have taken precedence over human rights for too long. It is time for the British and American governments to make further support of the security authorities conditional on the police changing their mode of operation in a verifiable manner. "