The police regularly commit human rights violations, including unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances. The justice system is under-resourced and riddled with delays. Prisons are overcrowded; the majority of inmates are pre-trial detainees, some held for many years. Hundreds of people remain on death row, many sentenced after unfair trials. Conflict in the Niger Delta threatens the safety and lives of residents. Human rights defenders and journalists face intimidation and harassment. Violence against women is widespread and the government fails to protect the rights of children. Forced evictions take place across the country.
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Over two million people have been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2000, and hundreds of thousands more are at risk of eviction throughout the country. Most are already marginalized, and many live without access to clean water, sanitation, adequate health care or education. Evictions are carried out without genuine consultation, adequate notice and compensation, or alternative accommodation. Law enforcement officials sometimes use force while carrying out evictions, beating and injuring residents, including children.
Policing and Justice
Despite repeated government pledges to address the problems in the Nigerian criminal justice system, little progress has been made. Among the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) there is flagrant and widespread disregard for human rights and due process. People are subjected to enforced disappearances and unlawfully killed by the police before or during arrest in the street or at roadblocks, or subsequently in police detention. Many unlawful killings appear to be extrajudicial executions, and the perpetrators usually go unpunished.
Crimes committed by the police forces in Nigeria are not random. In a country where bribes guarantee safety, those who cannot afford to pay are at risk of being shot or tortured to death by the police. The families of the victims often cannot afford to seek justice or redress, because they cannot pay for a lawyer or the court fees.
Detainees are regularly held by the police for longer than the constitutionally guaranteed 48 hours before being brought before a judge, often waiting weeks and even months. Seventy per cent of Nigeria's nearly 48,000 prison inmates are pre-trial detainees. Prisoners are often detained in appalling conditions, waiting long periods for trial as the justice system is riddled with delays. Detainees are often denied their legal right to see a lawyer. Many have to pay for food or medical care, or to avoid being tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Police routinely torture suspects, including children.
Hundreds of people are on death row, many sentenced to death following blatantly unfair trials or after spending more than a decade in prison awaiting trial. No executions we carried out in 2010, but state governors announced their intention to review all cases of death row inmates and to sign execution warrants in order to reduce prison congestion.
Residents of Jos, Plateau state, live in constant danger due to repeated incidents of communal violence, including bombings and gun and machete attacks. Hundreds of homes have been razed and thousands of people killed since 2001. Victims have no access to redress or reparation, or compensation. Criminal investigation is been inadequate, and no one has been held accountable.
Sectarian violence in and around Maiduguri, Borno state, threatens the safety of local residents. Attacks by members of the religious sect formally known as Boko Haram have killed over one hundred people since July 2010. Boko Haram has taken responsibility for a number of attacks targeting police and government officials, religious leaders and churches, and bars and beer gardens, killing scores of civilians.
Conflict in the Niger Delta
Poverty, corruption and the presence of oil, arms and gangs, make the Niger Delta a very volatile region. Armed groups and criminal gangs have explicitly seek to control resources, and engage in acts of violence. This leads to violent confrontations between the armed groups and the Joint Task Force (JTF). Security forces, including the military, regularly commit human rights violations in the Niger Delta, including extrajudicial executions, torture or other ill-treatment, and destruction of homes.
Impact of the Extractive Industries
Pollution and environmental damage caused by the oil industry have a serious impact on people living in the Niger Delta. Laws and regulations to protect the environment are poorly enforced. The harmful practice of gas flaring, made illegal in 1984, still continues. Government agencies responsible for enforcement are ineffective and, in some cases, compromised by conflicts of interest. Communities in the Niger Delta have little or no access to vital information about the impact of the oil industry on their lives.
Human rights defenders and journalists face regular intimidation and harassment. Human rights defenders and journalists are threatened and beaten by police and security forces, and several have been killed in suspicious circumstances. Nigeria's laws still provide inadequate protection for the right to freedom of expression.
Violence against women is pervasive, including domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual violence by state officials and private individuals. Authorities consistently fail to exercise due diligence in preventing and addressing sexual violence by both state and non-state actors, leading to an entrenched culture of impunity.
Children are routinely detained with adults in police and prison cells. Nigeria's one functioning remand home was overcrowded, with approximately 600 children held in facilities designed for 200. Government provision for homeless and vulnerable children is inadequate with over 1 million street children across the country.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked schools and abducted large numbers of children as soldiers or ‘wives,’ among other atrocities. The Nigerian military’s treatment of those who escape such brutality has also been appalling. From mass, unlawful detention in inhumane conditions, to meting out beatings and torture and allowing sexual abuse by adult inmates – it defies belief that children anywhere would be so grievously harmed by the very authorities charged with their protection.
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