Global human rights watch-dog, Amnesty International has once again slammed the excesses of a special police unit; the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS); describing it as a mockery of Nigeria’s anti-torture law.
This was disclosed in a new report released by the body on Thursday, June 25, 2020.
In the report titled Time to End Impunity, Amnesty International documented about 82 cases of torture; ill treatment and extra-judicial execution by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020. Further, it revealed that the victims of SARS’ brutality are predominantly male between the ages of 18 and 35; usually from low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.
Also, Amnesty International revealed that the Nigerian government has failed to prosecute a single SARS officer; despite an anti-torture legislation passed in 2017. This, it noted, is in spite of overwhelming evidence that SARS’ operatives continue to use torture; as well as other ill-treatment to execute, punish and extract information from suspects.
Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, described the situation as shocking and unacceptable.
“The complete failure of Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the gross human rights violations perpetuated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or to bring any SARS officer to justice is shocking and unacceptable. Nigerians are outraged by the systemic human rights violations perpetrated by the SARS with impunity.
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“The systemic use of torture and other ill treatment by SARS officers for police investigations and the continued existence of torture chambers within the Nigerian Police Force points to an absolute disregard for international human rights laws and standards.”
1st News reports that the investigations by Amnesty International reveals a disturbing pattern of abuse of detainees; mainly in SARS custody despite the 2017 Anti-Torture Act.
‘‘In many cases, Amnesty International bore witness to the scars, bruises, and dried blood on victims’ bodies. Many of them were subjected to beatings with sticks and machetes and denied medical care. The findings of this report also show that these horrific violations were carried out under the supervision of high-ranking police officers.’’
It noted that despite repeated promises by successive governments to reform the Nigerian Police Force; as well as the overhauling of SARS announced by the Inspector General of Police on August 14, 2018; gross human right violations, inefficiency and disregard for human rights remains widespread within the force.
Amnesty International says it is time to act; urging the Nigerian government to stop paying lip-service to the required reforms.
“Impunity sends the message to torturers that they will get away with it. Impunity denies victims and their relatives the right to have the truth established, the right to see justice served and the right to reparations,” said Osai Ojigho.
“The Nigerian authorities must go beyond lip service to ensure there is real reform within the Nigeria Police Force with an emphasis on SARS. These reforms must translate into holding police officers suspected of torture to account; ending torture, unlawful detention, extortion, extrajudicial execution and other human rights violations that SARS officers have been known for across Nigeria.”