Amnesty International (AI) has accused the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) branch of the Nigeria Police force of carrying out 82 extra-judicial executions in three years. AI also criticized the Nigeria Police for failing to prosecute members of the force whom it accused of engaging in torture of suspects.
The group noted that SARS had continued to use torture and other ill-treatment to execute, punish, and extract information from suspects.
In a report – “Time to End Impunity,’ released on Thursday, AI said it documented at least 82 cases of torture, ill-treatment, and extra-judicial executions by SARS between January 2017 and May 2020”.
It said the victims are predominantly males between the ages of 18 and 35, from low-income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.
The Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, stated, “The complete failure of Nigerian authorities to bring an end to the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or to bring any SARS officer to justice is shocking and unacceptable.”
Ojigho further said, “Nigerians are outraged by the systemic human rights violations perpetrated by the SARS ….. The systemic use of torture and other ill-treatment by SARS officers for police investigations and the continued existence of torture chambers within the Nigerian Police Force points to an absolute disregard for international human rights laws and standards.”
AI said its investigations revealed a disturbing pattern of abuse of detainees in SARS custody despite the 2017 Anti-Torture Act.
In many cases, the group said it bore witness to the scars, bruises, and dried blood on victims’ bodies, noting that many of them were subjected to beatings with sticks and machetes and denied medical care.