Uju Agomoh, from PRAWA, Nigeria speaking on behalf of the Sub-Saharan Africa member centres of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, (IRCT) said that torture is a phenomenon in Africa despite international laws prohibits torture everywhere at all times and also for any purpose, but it is still practiced throughout Africa.
She noted that in Uganda, torture is being done by security agencies; that arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions continue unabated in that country with no investigation done. She further noted that for the past two years, was the most frequent human rights violation reported in Uganda. She said between January-June 2011 of the 385 Ugandan victims of torture were treated by the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV), adding 55% of the clients were reported to have been tortured by the Uganda police.
Madam Uju Agomoh said in Kenya, torture is widespread in all the regions of the country especially within the rural areas. She further noted that the lack of monitoring and accountability adds to the air of impunity: citing Chad as an example where she noted prison visits have shown that with the exception of the prison at Abeche, N’Djamena, most prisoners in these places suffer from lack of security, adequate medical facilities in addition to overcrowded cells characterized by the lack of hygiene and ventilation. These prisoners, she said, complained of lack of food and the eventual inexistence of recreational activities. She said cases of inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners were found in many prisons in Chad.
She added that in Nigeria, PRAWA through its pilot project on torture documentation and redress scheme has recorded a total of 383 cases from 2009-2011 in Enugu state alone, where 53 of these cases are currently in court.
Madam Uju dilatates said rehabilitation is a necessary component of the response to torture in order to counter the destructive effects of torture: noting innovative and holistic means of rehabilitation are needed. She noted that the purpose of it is to empower the victim, their families and communities to resume full life as possible. She further noted that rebuilding the life of someone whose dignity has been destroyed takes time and also requires long term material, medical, psychological, social and other support. She therefore called on the commission to urge member states to criminalize torture and to ratify and fully implement all relevant international and regional instruments including the UN convention against torture and its optional protocol. She also call on the commission to uphold and increase their efforts in monitoring the compliance of African states with the absolute prohibition of torture including through country visits and to encourage states to provide sufficient medical care to those in detention and adequate rehabilitation to torture victims. She further called on the commission to continue its focus on protecting human rights defenders and all those that put themselves and their families at risk by providing support to torture victims and also invite the commission to seek collaboration with rehabilitation centres on the ground to improve the situation for torture survivors and work towards quick responses on the cases brought forward.