By Innocent Anaba
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown of major commercial activities in Abuja and other Nigerian cities by the government, Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers Without Borders France), ASF France, has called on security agencies to exercise decorum and respect human rights in the discharge of their duty in maintaining law and order while enforcing the lockdown.
“Even though there are restrictions on movement and conduct of some commercial activities across many cities in the country, security agencies should adequately educate their personnel to desist from committing human rights violations in the process,” ASF France Head of Office in Nigeria, Angela Uwandu, said, in a statement, on Thursday.
ASF France reiterated that the current spate of serious human rights violations against Nigerians by security agents should not be allowed to prevail in these trying times, even as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASF France also called on security agencies, especially the Police, to desist from arbitrary arrests and detention of citizens in a bid to enforce lockdown.
Uwandu said: “The threat of use of excessive force or torture against citizens at this time must be quickly addressed by the government.
“The Nigerian government should recall that it is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which absolutely prohibits the use of torture by security agencies under any circumstance.
“Serious human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial killings by security agencies should be avoided, especially as the country works towards dealing with the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We remain committed to providing access to justice for victims of these violations even at these trying times on the platform of its SAFE and ProCAT projects
“The safety of persons already in detention should also be a priority for the government. The release of minor offenders and pre-trial detainees from detention should be considered as a measure to reduce overcrowding in detention centres at this critical time.”