Following the order given to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, by the Nigeria Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to overhaul the nation’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASF) otherwise known as Lawyers Without Borders, has pointed out that the measures outlined by the IGP are grossly insufficient.
ASF, in a statement signed by Angela UWANDU, Head of Office, ASF Nigeria, noted that there is need for the IGP to have a review of the measures, saying, “while ASF France sees this as a first step in the right direction, it is also of the opinion that the measures outlined by the IGP are grossly insufficient to achieve a real reform and to address the concerns of Nigerians and all relevant stakeholders regarding the dangerous operations and various human rights violations of the SARS.
According to the statement, Angela, said, “ASF welcomes the order of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris for the overhaul/reform of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force. This step by the IGP is in response to the latest directive of the Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo SAN to the IGP on August 14, 2018 to overhaul the SARS unit.
“ASF France can confirm from its experience in working for torture victims in Nigeria that one of the major factors that prevent victims from coming forward or laying complaints for torture and other violations meted out to them by the SARS or other units of the Police is fear of reprisal. It is therefore crucial that the IGP goes beyond providing numbers for complaints against SARS but must also demonstrate measures put in place to protect complainants and to avoid reprisals.”
The statement urged the IGP to also show that the complaint mechanism will be independently monitored, transparent, effective and responsive, adding, “closely related to this is the need to hold perpetrators of human rights violations openly accountable. This is the most important way to curb impunity within the Police system.”
It further added that, “ASF France believes that any meaningful reform of the SARS and indeed other police units must adopt an inclusive process of all relevant stakeholders. The Police must engage with actors such as the Ministry of Justice to ensure full implementation of the new anti-torture Act enacted in December 2017. This important law must play a prominent role in the reform efforts by the Police.
“Avocats Sans Frontières France has been working with local partners since 2009 to end torture and to ensure access to justice for victims of torture in Nigeria.”