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SERAP drags FG to UN over detention, torture of Sowore, others

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent “an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention, torture…

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent “an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment of journalist Omoyele Sowore and four other activists simply for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

SERAP said: “The Working Group should request the Nigerian authorities to withdraw the bogus charges against Mr Sowore and four other activists, and to immediately and unconditionally release them.”

In the complaint dated 4 January, 2021, and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The detention of Omoyele Sowore and four other activists constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty because it does not have any legal justification.

“The detention also does not meet minimum international standards of due process.”

According to SERAP: “The arrest, continued detention and torture and ill-treatment of Mr Sowore and four other activists solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is a flagrant violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international human rights law.

“They are now facing bogus charges simply for exercising their human rights.”

SERAP is calling on the Working Group to “initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the detention, torture and bogus charges against Mr Sowore and four other activists, and to urgently send an allegation letter to the Nigerian government inquiring about the case generally, and specifically about the legal basis for their arrest, detention, torture and other ill-treatment, each of which is in violation of international human rights law.”

SERAP is also urging the Working Group to “issue an opinion declaring that the deprivation of liberty and detention of Mr Sowore and four other activists is arbitrary and in violation of Nigeria’s Constitution and obligations under international human rights law.

“We also urge the Working Group to call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

SERAP also argued that a detention is arbitrary when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty.

Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which confirms the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention, guarantees that no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.

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