In Initial Dialogue with Nigeria, Experts of Committee against Torture Ask about the Fight against Terrorism, and Conditions of Detention
The Committee against Torture this afternoon concluded its initial dialogue with Nigeria, in the absence of a report, on the efforts made by the State party to implement the provisions of the Convention against Torture. During the dialogue, Committee Experts asked about the ongoing fight against terrorism in Nigeria, and about conditions of detention, including for pre-trial detainees.
A Committee Expert noted that Nigeria was facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in Africa due to the security threats and threats of violent extremism of the Islamist group Boko Haram. Several reports had accused the Nigerian army of having used torture in its efforts to try to eradicate the Boko Haram terrorist group. Security operations against Boko Haram, instead of eradicating terrorism, had led to acts of violence, torture and extrajudicial executions. Several reports had accused the Nigerian army of having used torture in its efforts to try to eradicate the Boko Haram terrorist group. There were reports that Nigerian police used torture as an institutionalised routine practise in criminal investigations. As for conditions of detention, a Committee Expert said that generally, prison conditions were difficult, with overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and food and water shortages, which had resulted in deaths. Could the delegation provide further information on prison conditions?
The delegation explained that a prison decongestion programme had noted the high number of people in remand. The programme cut across all 36 states of Nigeria and had significantly reduced the number of inmates awaiting trial. Addressing questions on congestion in correctional centres and the welfare of inmates, the delegation noted that a department had been created to ascertain the condition of correctional centres across the country, with a view to carrying out reforms. That department undertook inspections in correctional centres and identified inmates eligible for release under set criteria. In response to questions and allegations around the old prison infrastructure, the delegation said details around rehabilitation and refurbishment would be provided to the Committee. Given the seriousness of acts of terrorism, there were joint operations between the army, the police, and other agencies. On the use of children in military operations, it was the policy of the Government of Nigeria that under no circumstances would children be used by the military or any other official security agency as tools for dealing with either law and order situations or insurgency situations.
Abiodun Richards Adejola, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, stated the commitment of Nigeria to the work of the Committee, adding that the country was committed to making its initial report. The Government of Nigeria recognised the important role of the Nigerian Armed Forces in responding to concerns of insurgency and terrorism in some parts the country. The Government also recognised that in the course of military operations, issues of human rights violations might arise. The Armed Forces therefore undertook frequent seminars, workshops and continuous learning on the rules of engagement. Human rights desks facilitated immediate responses to complaints by citizens of possible excesses by military personnel. As for conditions of detention, the Government had embarked on a holistic reform of its criminal justice system. The new law responded to human rights concerns about the situation of persons in detention.
The delegation of Nigeria consisted of representatives of the National Committee Against Torture; the Federal Ministry of Justice; the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
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The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 18 November to conclude its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Lithuania (CAT/C/LTU/4).
ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, stated the commitment of Nigeria to the work of the Committee. Having ratified the Convention in 2001, Nigeria was committed to making its initial report on its efforts against torture to the Committee. In 2009, in line with its obligations under the Optional Protocol, Nigeria had set up its National Committee against Torture, a national preventive mechanism. The National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria also played a significant role in assisting victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Constitution of Nigeria from 1999 prohibited torture and all forms of inhumane and degrading treatment. To implement human rights provisions in concrete terms, the Government had developed a National Action Plan for the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria, which stated specific measures to be adopted by the Government in protecting and promoting the rights of all Nigerians.
The Government had embarked on a holistic reform of its criminal justice system. The new law responded to human rights concerns about the situation of persons in detention. The reform also included the enactment of the 2015 Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which placed the rights of persons in conflict with the law at the heart of the criminal justice system. In addition, Nigeria had recently reviewed the law establishing the Nigerian Police Force. The new law emphasised professionalism and adherence to the rule of law by the police.
Nigeria was currently embarking on reforming the judiciary across the 36 states of the Federation. The Judicial (Financial Autonomy) Law sought to provide additional guarantees for strengthening the independence of the judiciary. In addition, the National Human Rights Commission had been repositioned to provide speedy remedy for victims of torture and their families, particularly the vulnerable and indigent. The Government of Nigeria recognised the important role of the Nigerian Armed Forces in responding to concerns of insurgency and terrorism in some parts the country. The Government also recognised that in the course of military operations, issues of human rights violations might arise. The Armed Forces therefore undertook frequent seminars, workshops and continuous learning on the rules of engagement. Human rights desks facilitated immediate responses to complaints by citizens of possible excesses by military personnel.
The Government had also recently established a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the level of compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces with its rules of engagement, not only in areas of insurgency, but in all parts of the country where the Nigerian army operated. On the issue of torture broadly, the attitude of the Government of Nigeria was to achieve prevention, and in cases where torture occurred, provide speedy remedial measures. Mr. Adejola assured the readiness of Nigeria to remain engaged with the work of the Committee to address issues related to its mandate.
Questions from Committee Experts
SÉBASTIEN TOUZÉ, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, said the Committee had been waiting for the initial report of Nigeria for 19 years. Today, the review of Nigeria was being undertaken without a report. It was not the ideal way of beginning a constructive dialogue, but it would be undertaken nevertheless on the basis of information available to the Committee, which included shadow reports submitted by civil society actors, and work by other treaty bodies as well as Special Rapporteurs.
Beginning with fundamental legal safeguards, he noted that as the head of the delegation had rightly recalled, the Government of Nigeria had made progress towards prohibiting and preventing acts of torture committed by security officers and law enforcement officials thanks to the promulgation of a number of laws. The Constitution created a right not to be subjected to torture, and the anti-torture law specifically criminalised acts of torture perpetrated by public officials. Yet it appeared that there were no specific provisions included in the Anti-Torture Act establishing that the crime of torture was not subject to a statute of limitations and that amnesties and pardons were prohibited for acts of torture. Mr. Touzé asked for further details on that from the delegation. Was the law against torture applicable across the whole Nigerian territory and could the Convention be directly invoked before domestic courts of law? Could the delegation provide information on judicial practice in that area?
How did the authorities ensure that interrogations of suspects were video recorded to ensure that they did not confess as a result of torture? Suspects rarely had the possibility of informing the court that they had been tortured. The presence of lawyers during confessions that were video recorded was also not implemented in practise. Provisions requiring police to inform suspects of their right to legal services were rarely followed, and the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria was seriously underfunded and unable to provide services. Could the delegation provide statistics on cases where legal aid had been provided? How much was allocated in the budget to ensure legal aid could be provided to suspects? Another issue was extended periods of pre-trial detention and custody. Could the delegation explain why police custody sometimes lasted for several weeks or months? Furthermore, information obtained by the Committee showed that detainees’ right to have access to a medical examination by an independent doctor was in practice almost non-existent. The Committee would like more information on that.
On police violence or violence committed within the framework of detention, the National Human Rights Protection Institute in its report to the Committee noted that between 2019 and 2020, there were 27,846 complaints that were brought to this organization, some of them pertaining to persons who had been held in custody. What sort of follow-up been provided to these cases?
Turning to arrests and arbitrary detentions, Mr. Touzé noted that Nigerian authorities had not managed to fully reform the criminal justice system. The review of the Police Act had lasted 16 years. There was a militarisation of the police, leading to numerous illegal homicides across the country and which were often perpetrated with complete impunity. Thousands of persons were in a legal vacuum whereas trials were repeatedly postponed. Around 74 per cent of all detainees in overcrowded prisons were waiting for trial.
With reference to the fight against terrorism, he noted that Nigeria was facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in Africa due to the security threats and threats of violent extremism of the Islamist group Boko Haram. Security operations against Boko Haram, instead of eradicating terrorism, had led to acts of violence, torture and extrajudicial executions. Several reports had accused the Nigerian army of having used torture in its efforts to try to eradicate the Boko Haram terrorist group. Could the delegation provide information about prosecutions and outcomes following the 2017 establishment of a Presidential Group of Inquiry to examine the armed forces’ respect for obligations and rules of engagement?
According to a civil society report, the lengthy detention of children in overcrowded facilities without adequate sanitation, water or adequate food was comparable to acts of torture or inhuman treatment. The Special Rapporteur on summary executions had reported that at Giwa barracks, soldiers had killed at least 640 detainees, many of whom had been arbitrarily arrested during mass screening operations. Why had there been no independent study into that incident? Could the delegation provide information on the current conditions in the Giwa barracks?
On the subject of child soldiers, he noted that when children managed to escape from Boko Haram, they were often victims of illegal detention or beatings and torture. While noting that there had been a number of programmes for de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of these children, the Committee was concerned about reports of serious abuses in the facilities associated with these programmes. Could the delegation provide information on those allegations, and on the phenomenon of child soldiers, and the measures taken?
Nigerian and international civil society organizations had for years talked about a generalised use of torture by law enforcement agencies and in law enforcement generally in Nigeria. There were reports that Nigerian police used torture as an institutionalised routine practise in criminal investigations. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad had been created to combat all forms of armed robbery, but it appeared that the police had lost control of the unit. Torture and ill-treatment were widespread in the Squad’s detention centres. After mass demonstrations, the Squad had been dismantled. The follow-up to that was the setting up of judicial commissions to investigate allegations of human rights violations. Most of the petitions alleged serious human rights violations, such as summary executions and torture. Could the delegation inform about the conclusions of those inquiries into torture allegations?
Turning to conditions of detention, Mr. Touzé noted the high overcrowding rate, caused by excessive use of pre-trial detention. Also, court backlogs had increased due to closures and delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic. What measures did the authorities envisage to reduce the number of detainees in pre-trial detention to remove the overcrowding and respect the rights of detainees? Generally, prison conditions were difficult, with overcrowding, inadequate medical care, food and water shortages, which had resulted in deaths. Could the delegation provide further information on prison conditions? Most of the prisons were old and some lacked potable water and had inadequate sanitary facilities. Could the delegation provide a complete inventory of the prison infrastructure?
Noting that the situation had worsened with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, he added that there were no reliable figures showing the total number of deaths in prison during the year. As for the situation of women, there was little in terms of adaptation for them. Children, some of them born in prison, were living among adults. The reports the Committee had read indicated the lack of separation of juvenile detainees from adults, of women from men, and of convicted persons from those awaiting trial. Everybody seemed to be imprisoned—men, women, children, persons with disabilities—all mixed up, in unsuitable buildings. Could the delegation provide information about those allegations?
When it came to the inspection of detention facilities, Mr. Touzé noted that
Nigeria had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention, and established the National Committee against Torture, which had a mandate including visiting places of detention and investigating complaints of torture. Was it performing its role as the national preventive mechanism? Could the delegation inform about its role, responsibilities, and effectiveness? Would Nigeria allow visits by the United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture to assess the situation in prisons and in terms of the prevention mechanism?
Turning to the death penalty, Mr. Touzé noted that section 33(1) of the Constitution continued to authorise the death penalty. It was mandatory for certain offenses. However, it was reported that there was a de facto moratorium on death sentences. Although death penalties were still pronounced by the judge, they were not carried out. The sentence was still a death penalty and thus the person could not be certain they would not be executed. They remained in that intolerable, inhuman situation, with the uncertainty as to what would happen to them, a matter of particular concern as there were a lot of death sentences pronounced, and many people on death row. Nothing guaranteed they would not be executed. Sharia law was applied in 12 states and foresaw death sentencing for offenses including adultery, apostasy and other offenses. The Sharia also provided for the death penalty for same-sex sexual relations. Could the delegation provide the year when the last execution had been carried out?
On issues of gender-based violence, Mr. Touzé noted that several states did not have specific laws prohibiting sexual violence, although domestic violence and femicide were widespread and largely underreported across Nigeria. The same was true for many practices of female genital mutilation. He noted that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2017 had recommended that Nigeria amend the relevant legal provisions with a view to legalising abortion in cases of rape, incest, risk to the physical or mental health or life of the pregnant woman, and serious harm to the foetus, and decriminalise abortion in all other cases. Had such measures been taken, and if not, could the delegation explain why that was the case?
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Member and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, said she would focus her remarks on gender-based violence, impunity and corporal punishment. Gender-based violence was endemic in Nigeria, and Boko Haram was the main perpetrator, but so were soldiers and other entities under the aegis of the State. The issue was not being addressed as rigorously as it might be. The 2015 law prohibiting violence against people covered gender-based violence and applied in the capital and some states. Regarding acts of violence committed by Boko Haram, it was an extremist group barricading itself behind Sharia law to try to impose its diktats on vulnerable people, particularly women and girls. Boko Haram abducted girls from schools, and some proceedings against alleged perpetrators were not open to the public or media. Victims’ rights to remedy and reparations were denied during those proceedings, as many were residents of camps for internally displaced people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee had heard that Boko Haram had continued to rape and kill girls, and that Governors of various states were intending to decree a state of emergency to combat rape and other sexual or gender-based violence against women or children. Yet no real action was being seen, only words. Could the delegation explain what was actually happening?
On impunity, the Committee would like to know how the State party was addressing that issue, Ms. Belmir said. Returning to the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee had heard that a number of people had been killed by police or military who had opened fire on civilians armed with sticks and stones. In light of impunity, the Committee was informed that Nigeria had established insufficient provisions. The 2017 Act against Torture contained exceptions as regards the issue of torture. Commissions had been appointed to investigate acts of torture, and those considerations had not been taken into account. The National Human Rights Commission’s role was very limited, and the police commission created within the police force to investigate unlawful acts committed by police officers was not fulfilling its role.
Turning to corporal punishment, she noted that there were a number of components to the domestic law, including Islamic law, common law, and positive law, applied in a certain number of states. In states applying Sharia law, there was a difficulty with legal texts, with, for example, child law that was not applied in certain states. Provisions within the texts applied in certain states said parents had the right to chastise their children. It was considered that persons who had reached puberty might be held responsible for their acts, and in some states they might be flogged, in other states there could be more serious punishments, including amputations. According to some civil society reports, some juveniles had been sentenced to amputation. There was a lot of room for improvement in respecting the rights of the child, she noted.
Another Committee Expert thanked the delegation for its presence for the constructive dialogue and asked the delegation to provide more information about the rehabilitation component of compensation for victims of torture. Had Nigeria considered changing the law to expressly include rehabilitation as part of reparations to victims of torture, as required by the Convention? Had a national rehabilitation programme for victims of torture been considered? One Committee Expert asked for further information about Nigeria’s position internationally on the death penalty. Was the country’s voting record in the United Nations General Assembly an indication of its position? Another Committee Expert asked for more information about deaths in custody. No reliable statistics could be found on that matter; could the delegation inform about the investigation of deaths in custody, including in military camps? How many investigations had been launched, and which measures had been taken to disarm inmates, keep out weapons and increase security in detention facilities?
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that the Government of Nigeria’s attitude over the years had been regrettable. Nigeria was in the process of reforming and restructuring the National Committee against Torture to make it more independent and responsive. While this dialogue proceeded, the Committee should consider and give Nigeria an opportunity to submit a report in the next few months and he hoped the Committee would consider this. The Government of Nigeria recognised the need for urgent, immediate and radical reform of its criminal justice system. The Committee was correct that the process had been slow, but Nigeria was a country of 36 states, and achieving meaningful reforms required negotiations with all of them. The first intervention that had been made was the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act which sought to respond to all the concerns that had been raised about the state of the criminal justice system. It was a best practice legislation seeking to reform specific areas, including the area of victims of crimes. There was also a provision in that Act for reparations. To ensure that the laws were generally passed across the country, states were engaged across the country. Apart from that all-encompassing law, interventions had been made in institutions, including prisons. The last time the prison law was revisited, it was in 1943, but a new law called the Correctional Services Act had been signed in 2020. It was a radical departure from the law which had been inherited from the British, placing the rights of inmates at the heart of the law. The law gave powers to chief judges of the State to release persons who had spent upwards of 10 years on death row. A copy of the law would be made available to Committee Experts.
A prison decongestion programme noted the high number of people in remand. The programme cut across all 36 states and had significantly reduced the number of inmates awaiting trial. A report on that programme would be provided to Committee Experts. Nigeria operated a federal system, so state governments also had powers when it came to prisons. The concerns of people serving as prison officers was also important, such as their accommodation. An affirming work environment for prison officers was important. In response to questions and allegations around the old prison infrastructure, the delegation said details around rehabilitation and refurbishment would be provided to the Committee.
The old police law was a British-inherited law. Because of the nature of policing, it was taking time to produce a police legislation that all the states could agree to. A new police act had been signed into law last year, and what had been achieved was a holistic reform of the police. There was now an emphasis on community policing, achieving cooperation and collaboration between citizens and the police. Apart from enabling an appropriate legal framework, the focus was on improving the conditions of service of police officers. They needed to be radically improved. The police department was managed in a collaborative effort between the state and federal governments.
National protests concerning the high-handedness of a special force of the police had indeed taken place. That force had been disbanded, and a number of panels had investigated complaints. It was a national initiative at the highest level. Some states had begun to pay compensations awarded by the panels, particularly where the victims had had immediate needs.
Another institution the Government had focused on was the judiciary. Many people in conflict with the law came into contact with the magistrates’ courts. It was a federal and state government effort. All states could not be expected to work at the same speed. A strong judiciary was needed. Efforts were being made now to make the judiciary independent in practice.
The delegation said that beyond the creation and establishment of legal and institutional frameworks, Nigeria had done much to give meaning to the spirit of the Convention, noting that outstanding issues raised during the dialogue included conditions in correctional centres, the welfare of inmates, reforms, the death penalty, the military and the insurgency, gender-based violence, access to medical services in prison, legal aid, and other issues.
Addressing questions on congestion in correctional centres and the welfare of inmates, the delegation noted that a department had been created to ascertain the condition of correctional centres across the country, with a view to carrying out reforms. That department undertook inspections in correctional centres and identified inmates eligible for release under set criteria. The criteria included inmates of old age, inmates that were critically ill, and inmates that were in custody in deferment of payment of fines.
Responding to questions on gender-based violence, access to justice for persons in detention, as well as questions about the death penalty, the delegation began by noting that gender-based violence, including violence against women, still persisted, and not only in the area of insurgency, but across the country. Nigeria was a vast country with many forms of traditional practices. Practices of that nature could not simply be outlawed but required continuous public education. Measures taken by the authorities included legal reform, as well as administrative interventions. Because of the seriousness of the issue, the Nigerian Governors’ Platform had declared a state of emergency on gender-based violence. A register had been established for sex offenders. The judiciary handed down punishing sanctions to persons who had committed various forms of gender-based violence.
Access to justice for persons in detention had also been an issue of concern for the Committee, the delegation noted. The anti-torture law applied across the 36 states of the Federation. As for prison conditions, it was not true that men and women were put in the same prison; that had not happened and would never happen. Concerning the recording of statements made in the course of interrogating persons in conflict with the law, the rules of the courts on confessional statements were clear: a person was allowed to make an allegation in open court that the confession had been obtained through torture; a trial-within-a-trial would then ensue. If the allegation was substantiated, it put an end to the trial.
The laws of Nigeria allowed the death penalty. In 2003, a national study group had reviewed the death penalty and recommended a moratorium on executions until reforms of the criminal justice system could be accomplished. The Government had therefore largely taken a moratorium approach. A person who had been convicted had the right to appeal a death sentence all the way to the Supreme Court, and there were several cases where that Court had reversed death sentences.
In response to questions about the military and the insurgency, the delegation stated that the Government had not abdicated the responsibility of maintaining law and order to the military; there was an existing police force. Given the seriousness of the acts of terrorism, there were joint operations between the army, the police, and other agencies. A human rights desk in Nigerian defence headquarters coordinated, collaborated and engaged with various stakeholders on human rights. There was no official policy allowing the Nigerian Armed Forces to recruit minors.
Follow-up Questions from Committee Experts
SÉBASTIEN TOUZÉ, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, said it was good to pass laws, but it was better to act on them. The legal framework of Nigeria was not called into question; rather, the questions raised had been more about the implementation of those laws. With respect to inspections of prisons, he asked for clarification about the three mechanisms currently carrying out such inspections. He also asked for more information about the high number of people in pre-trial detention. Could Nigeria remedy that situation and find the necessary resources to significantly reduce pre-trial detention, as it was such an important factor in prison overcrowding?
On the issue of sexual violence, the problems encountered were in the area of practical application. Female genital mutilation still happened; there needed to be a determination to find a way of preventing those practices and punishing those responsible for them.
Returning to the situation in prisons, Mr. Touzé noted that infrastructure was not in keeping with what was required. The Committee needed to be able to determine what the objective state of the issues were. It was a considerable concern, as there were over 70,000 people in prison. Allegations from non-governmental organizations referred to situations where women were held with men. The delegation said that was not true. As to confessions, again, the Committee would appreciate having the decisions to which the delegation had referred, he said.
Returning to questions about the death penalty, Mr. Touzé noted that the moratorium seemed not to be applied, as death sentences were still handed down. Was it not possible to review that practice? The Convention did not prohibit capital punishment, but the Committee wanted to assess the situation of people who were condemned to death. The total number of persons condemned and in prison was a figure that the Committee did not have.
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Member and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, said she would focus her questions on the Boko Haram group and other entities. The 2017 Act on the prohibition of torture did not stress the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture. The State party needed to work to put an end to atrocities. In Nigeria, schools and camps for internally displaced people had become very dangerous, which should prompt the country to consider ways to remedy these situations.
Another Committee Expert asked for the number of death sentences handed down. Could the delegation provide statistics about people kept on death row? The time that a person convicted to death spent in limbo amounted to degrading and inhuman treatment. Could the delegation clarify the youngest age at which the death penalty could be handed down under the laws currently in force in Nigeria? Another Committee Expert noted that judicial panels operating in various parts of the country could provide an opportunity to provide reparations and rehabilitation for victims of torture.
Responses from the Delegation
The delegation said that for Nigeria, the issue of law reform was very important. Many laws inherited through colonialism were not relevant, and much effort had been expended on making the laws relevant to people. With respect to the issue of inspections of prisons, Nigeria was a federal system with 36 states. The Federal Government and states exercised joint jurisdiction on matters of criminal justice. The Federal Government had put in place measures in respect to the areas of its jurisdiction, the federal capital territory. While a prison was a federal institution, oversight of the prisons - inspection, funding and support - was shared between the states and the Federal Government.
Overcrowding in prisons was a serious problem, the delegation said, adding that efforts were being undertaken to decongest prisons across the board. Remand prisoners were being taken out in particular for reasons including the COVID-19 pandemic. The current philosophy was to ensure that correctional centres only housed people who were supposed to be there due the seriousness of their offenses. Gender-based violence was a priority issue for the Government of Nigeria. With respect to female genital mutilation, cultural practices which predated independence continued. Those practices could not simply be outlawed. There could be prosecutions and criminalisation, but ultimately the emphasis was on public awareness, and it could also be seen as a public health issue.
It was simply not true that men and women were placed in a single prison, the delegation stated. As for confessional statements, the law provided for a procedure where a person standing trial could retract a statement given at the point of interrogation. Turning to the National Committee on Torture, the delegation noted that the Committee had raised questions about its independence; information about the reform process would be included in subsequent reports to the Committee.
In response to questions about the death penalty, the delegation stated that whether judges should pronounce on it or not was a moot point as there was currently a moratorium on the death penalty. Persons condemned to death could apply for clemency. The age of culpability was 18, and persons under that age could not be sentenced to death.
On the use of children in military operations, it was the policy of the Government of Nigeria that under no circumstances would children be used by the military or any other official security agency as tools for dealing with either law and order situations or insurgency situations.
Follow-up Questions from Committee Experts
SÉBASTIEN TOUZÉ, Committee Vice-Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, said that on the issue of child soldiers, a survey showed that thousands of boys and girls had been recruited by the joint Nigerian self-defence militia combatting Boko Haram, and 300 had been recruited by the jihadists. The information which had reached the Committee showed there were links between the national authorities and the civilian intervention force. He asked the delegation to clarify what it knew about those practices.
ESSADIA BELMIR, Committee Member and Co-Rapporteur for Nigeria, noted that people on death row were there for a long time, so commutation of those sentences did not happen on a daily basis. The Committee had been told that minors could not be sentenced to death, but in some regions a person could be considered an adult, while still being considered a minor in other regions. The age of majority needed to be unified for death sentences.
CLAUDE HELLER, Committee Chairperson, said the practice of the Committee was that the delegation could submit additional information within 48 hours. Thanking the Ambassador and his delegation for coming to the in-person meeting, Mr. Heller said he hoped it was the starting point of better cooperation between the Committee and Nigeria. The concluding observations were a reflection of the dialogue, and from among them the Committee would choose priority themes for the State party to report on in one year. The purpose was to help Nigeria improve the human rights situation of those themes that the Committee considered needed to be improved in the country. He thanked the Committee Co-Rapporteurs for their detailed work.
ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office at Geneva and head of the delegation, thanked the Chair and the members of the Committee for listening to the delegation, and expressed hopes that the dialogue opened a new chapter of cooperation going forward. He pledged the commitment of Nigeria to the ideals of the Convention and the cause of the Committee.
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