- Vweta Chadwick
Rights is right for all Humans – A solidarity walk against torture
The UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, commonly called the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), an international treaty aimed at preventing torture, around the world, was adopted by the UN General Assembly, on December 10, 1984, and, came into force on 26 June 1987. 26 June is now set aside, yearly, as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
31 years later, only 158 states have ratified it, more than half of this number, reportedly are still perpetrating torture.
Why get involved?
Nigeria became a signatory to this convention on 28 July, 1988 and ratified it on 28 June 2001. However, about 1,500 people are presently awaiting execution on death row, some of whom are juvenile offenders.
Moses Akatugba, 16, had just finished senior secondary school when his life took an unexpected, and painful turn.
On 27th November 2005, the Nigerian Army in Warri, Delta State, on charges of theft of 3 mobile phones and other communication gadgets, arrested Moses.
Subsequently, He -though a minor- was tried in an adult court and sentenced to death by hanging solely on the confessions he signed under duress.
Moses describes his time in prison and the torture he experienced as unbearable. “I never thought I would be alive till this day. The pain I went through in the hands of the officers was unimaginable. In my whole life, I have never been subjected to such inhuman treatment. (Moses, February 2014).”
Last year, I alongside hundreds of Amnesty International volunteer facilitators, members and supporters all over the globe, took action against Moses’, and other torture victims by participating in the Stop Torture Global Campaign. Over 800,000 actions were taken worldwide. The Nigerian arm of the global campaign focused on Moses’ predicament. The stated objective was petitioning the then Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, to commute the death sentence.
Convinced by the unjust nature of the persecution and subsequent death sentence, Governor Uduaghan, granted Moses a full pardon on the 28th of May, 2015, just before he left office.
A world without torture begins with you
After 10 years on death row with the vortex of execution a daily reminder, Moses is full of gratitude to Amnesty International for taking action to save his life. “Amnesty International members and activists are my heroes. I want to assure them that this great effort they have shown to me will not be in vain, by the special grace of God I will live up to their expectation. I promise to be a human rights activist - to fight for others.” He says.
This year, the ASHA team is joining the Amnesty International global community in speaking out against torture with a solidarity walk, and calls on the every member of the public to join in.
The walk is scheduled for Saturday, 27th June, and it is timed for an hour 20 minutes.
Start off point is at the UBA park, just inside the University of Lagos (Unilag), Akoka gate, some minutes after the end of environmental sanitation. It terminates at the National Stadium, Surulere.
Interested persons, who are unable to come to Unilag, may join the procession, anywhere at:
a. UBA Park, Unilag - University Junction
b. University Junction - Harvey Road
c. Harvey Road - Tai Solarin Statute
a. Tai Solarin - Tejuosho Junction
b. Tejuosho Junction - Funsho Williams Avenue
a. Funsho Williams Avenue - National Stadium, Lagos.
I look forward to walking, in solidarity alongside you.