Thursday, July 28, 2005

Nigeria: Despite Reforms, Police Routinely Practice Torture

Donors Should Condition Police Reform Aid on Ending Torture and Other Abuses

(Lagos, July 27, 2005) -- Despite Nigeria’s progress on democratic reforms, Nigerian police routinely commit brutal acts of torture that have endured since the country’s era of military rule, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

For too long, the police in Nigeria have gotten away with murder and brutality. If President Olusegun Obasanjo wants to show the world that he is serious about pursuing justice, he should ensure that police torturers are held accountable for their crimes.

Across Nigeria, both senior and lower-level police officers routinely commit or order the torture and mistreatment of criminal suspects. Human Rights Watch urged foreign governments funding police reform in Nigeria to be more critical about police abuses, such as torture.

The 76-page report, “‘Rest in Pieces’: Police Torture and Deaths in Custody in Nigeria,” is based on over 50 interviews with victims and witnesses of torture and is the first comprehensive study on the subject. The report documents brutal acts of torture and ill-treatment in police custody, dozens of which resulted in death.

“For too long, the police in Nigeria have gotten away with murder and brutality,” said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. “If President Olusegun Obasanjo wants to show the world that he is serious about pursuing justice, he should ensure that police torturers are held accountable for their crimes.”

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