The Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), has called on stakeholders at all levels to decriminalise and declassify petty offences to address overcrowding in custodial centres.
The Executive Director, PRAWA, Dr Uju Agomoh, made the call in a statement on Friday in Abuja in commemoration of the Human Rights Day observed on every Dec. 10.
Agomoh said that there was the need for all stakeholders to join PRAWA in the campaign for the decriminalisation and declassification of petty offences.
She said that it would help in driving several initiatives targeted at effective implementation of non-custodial measures as provided for in the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) Act.
She also said it would help in driving initiatives that would enable accountability and better human rights compliance by security sector institutions.
This, she said concerned arrest and detention and prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment as provided for in the anti-torture Act of 2017.
Agomoh said that PRAWA provided proper guidance to correctional officers by producing a guidance manual for non- custodial officers for the supervision of violators of COVID-19 regulations.
She added that a guidance manual for the operation of the courts during the COVID 19 lockdown period were also provided.
“We equally donated computers and communication gadgets to designated custodial centres in our virtual visitation pilot project.
“This initiative was targeted at bridging the gap occasioned by the lockdown and to keep those incarcerated in custodial centres connected to their families and legal representatives.
“Our organisation also utilised the medium of advocacy, education, monitoring of courts to address the challenges of the criminal justice system and ultimately protect human rights at this period.
“We enjoyed the full support and collaboration of all our partners in the government agencies, development partners, private sector, CSOs and the media,” she said.
Agomoh also called on government to provide the enabling environment for the creation of employment opportunities for youths.
She noted that the sustainability of these was needed as well as constructive engagement of youth towards improving their social, economic, psychological and physical wellbeing.
Agomoh congratulated Nigeria on the several legislative successes recorded so far in the reform of the justice system.
She added that the enactment of the NCoS Act, 2019 and its connection with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, had provided the desired platform to implement community corrections.
“This has provided all of us the platform to participate in corrections of our brothers and sisters who have offended the criminal laws of the land and offer them a second chance to correct their offending behaviors.
“We salute the courage of frontline health workers fighting to keep us safe from the rampaging COVID-19 virus.
“We will continue to apply our experience and expertise in promoting human rights as we collectively strive to recover better and stand up for human rights as we battle COVID-19 pandemic.(NAN)