Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nigeria: Police in Nigeria commit extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and extortion with relative impunity

New President Should Lead Wide-Ranging Reforms to Stem Violence and Abuse

ABUJA/NEW YORK—Police in Nigeria commit extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and extortion with relative impunity, said a report released today by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN).

According to its findings, many members of the Nigeria Police Force are more likely to commit crimes than to prevent them. Police personnel routinely carry out summary executions of persons accused or suspected of crime, rely on torture as a principal means of investigation, and engage in extortion at nearly every opportunity.

"This shocking pattern of abuse calls into question the legitimacy of the entire Nigeria Police Force," said Okechukwu Nwanguma, advocacy coordinator for NOPRIN. "If President Jonathan truly means to improve public safety, then he must pay greater attention to police reform than his predecessor. We need to see renewed commitment at all levels during this critical time of transition."

The report points out that Nigeria's police force is over-centralized, under-resourced, and ill-equipped. Recruitment has been compromised by political interference, leaving the police with a poorly trained, badly paid workforce that is prone to corruption and violence.

"Strengthening oversight through a special prosecutorial unit for police crimes and regular monitoring of police and their facilities would help curb mistreatment," said Open Society Justice Initiative Executive Director James A. Goldston. "Resources from outside Nigeria will be essential to instituting these reforms. By focusing on the recommendations set forth in this report, international partners and donors can play an invaluable role in reducing police crime and restoring security."

The report, entitled Criminal Force: Torture, Abuse, and Extrajudicial Killings by the Nigeria Police Force, was produced by the Open Society Justice Initiative and NOPRIN, which carried out the research. It calls for increased autonomy and oversight, better recruitment and working conditions for personnel, and improved investigation, arrest, and detention policies.

Findings are based on independent field monitoring and investigation at over 400 police stations and posts in fourteen states and territories in Nigeria from February 2007 to January 2009. This research was augmented by a review of relevant legislation, case law and official reports, as well as secondary materials, including newspaper articles and NGO reports.

Source: Open Society Institute (OSI)

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