As the UN Human Rights Council session opens this week, a non-governmental organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a request to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urging her “to publicly condemn the reports of dehumanising and degrading conditions of police trainees across police colleges in Nigeria.”
The session of the Human Rights Council is holding from February 25 to March 22, 2013.
The organisation also wants Ms Pillay to “call or facilitate a public session of the UN Human Rights Council and civil society to discuss the problem with a view to putting pressure on the Nigerian government to urgently address and remedy the serious and systematic violation of the human rights of the trainees to human security and dignity, and to an adequate standard of living.”
In the petition signed by Solicitor to SERAP, Mr. Femi Falana, and sent to Ms Pillay on Monday, the organisation said that, “publicly speaking out against the violations of the human rights of police trainees and holding of a public session on the treatment of police trainees in police colleges across Nigeria would contribute to putting pressure on the government to urgently take concrete, meaningful and transparent action to improve the conditions and treatment of the trainees, and consequently improve the ability of our law enforcement agencies to discharge their duties of maintaining law and order, and ensuring the safety and security of the citizens.
“This is a crucial law enforcement issue to which your office is fully committed to addressing globally including in Nigeria. Unless the Nigerian government is held responsible for its failure to respect the right to human security and dignity of police trainees across police colleges in Nigeria, the government will not be able to meet up with its international legal obligations of maintaining law and order, and ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.”
SERAP maintains that “By failing to spend allocated budgets meant to establish infrastructure and improve the conditions of police colleges in the country, the government has breached its international human rights obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”
The organisation requested the UN Rights Chief to, among others:
1. Publicly condemn in your statement to the session of the UN Human Rights Council scheduled to hold between February 25 2013 and March 22, 2013 reports of dehumanising and degrading treatment of police trainees across police colleges in Nigeria
2. Ask the Nigerian Government delegation attending the session of the Human Rights Council to explain how the budget meant to establish infrastructure and improve the conditions of police trainees in police colleges has been spent, and what the government is doing to urgently address this serious human rights violation
3. Call or facilitate public session of the Human Rights Council and civil society to discuss the problems with a view to putting pressure on the Nigerian government to address it.
4. Urge the Nigerian government to invite the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation to visit Nigeria to thoroughly investigate the violations of human rights committed against police trainees across police colleges in Nigeria, and to make recommendations to the government on what to do to address the problem.
The organisation states further: “Recent investigation and documentary by the highly respected Channels TV showed among others that training facilities are in terribly bad shape; that the college is overcrowded (housing 3000 people instead of 750); that student hostels are in dilapidated conditions and lack beds, mattresses and decent and functioning toilets. It showed the college’s male and female dormitories, some of them built before independence in 1960, in state of disrepair. The trainees are clearly in some discomfort, because the footage showed bug-infested sleeping quarters and blood-stained beddings.”
Nigeria is a member of the Human Rights Council, and has ratified several UN human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.