PRAWA: Tackling Human Rights Abuse Headlong
By Michael Iseyare
A Non-Governmental Organization, the Prisons Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), which is aimed at promoting security, justice and development in Africa has since its creation in the year 1994, in no small measure carved a niche for itself in the area of institutional reforms, rehabilitation of inmates as well as ex inmates.
However, it is no more news that the society we live in is full of various ills. It is in this light that PRAWA seeks to create a society that would have criminal activities reduced to the barest minimum.
In pursuit of this onerous task, PRAWA has conducted numerous workshops and seminars as well as organizing trainings for the members of the Nigerian Prison Service as well as the Nigeria Police Force on how best to handle offenders and suspects so as not to infringe on their fundamental human rights.
For instance, by initiating the development of training manuals for use by the Prisons and Police respectively, PRAWA in its wisdom believes that positive change can occur in the orientation of these security agencies so as to enhance their output in delivering quality service as well as upholding the rule of law and accord due respect to the fundamental human rights of every Nigerian citizen both innocent, or guilty.
Moreover, in the area of equity and justice, the Organization targets a society where every citizen is treated fairly and justly, apart from triggering or initiating social development for inmates, ex inmates, torture victims and the Nigerian youth who are prone to crime also.
It is common knowledge that human trafficking as well as cases of rape and molestation are necessary ingredients to breed and sustain criminal activities in the society. In this area too, PRAWA has been at the forefront in containing and reducing such incidence through its training and collaborative efforts with the agencies of the criminal justice system.
Undoubtedly, it has made significant impact in identifying the over populated prisons which have awaiting trial persons estimated at 71% of the total inmate population. In addressing these obvious lapses, PRAWA has gone ahead with the process of reducing awaiting trail persons (ATPs) to the barest minimum, through the employment of pro bono lawyers.
The above development has no doubt brought relief to so many ATPs, as these inmates could not afford the services of lawyers, and as a result, stay in jail for many years. In line with PRAWA’s vision and mission, it recently conducted a technical workshop as part of a series of initiatives to monitor the impact of human rights training on security and justice sector institutions in Nigeria, which was conducted previously.
The workshop came at the heels of recent efforts to ensure that the respect for human rights is ensured by the Nigerian Police Force and other justice sector institutions while carrying out their various mandates.
Executive Director of PRAWA, Dr. Uju Agomoh during the workshop drew the attention of participants that the decision to map out past and ongoing human rights training and capacity building programmes for security and justice sector institutions in Nigeria stems from the societal need for justice.
She also stated that the results from the nationwide monitoring exercise would serve as a tool for assessing the effects of human rights trainings on police officers, prison staff and other justice sector institutions and to determine whether such trainings have indeed resulted in behavioral changes.
The workshop which attracted NGOs, and government officials from across the country, was done in partnership with the Human Rights Radio, Network for Police Reforms in Nigeria, Olive Justice Initiative, National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association, CLEEN Foundation and REPLACE.
These organizations proffered solutions to issues bordering on some of the ills that have bedevilled the justice sector. The security and justice sectors are germane in the criminal justice system, and PRAWA seeks to make sure these sectors uphold and respect the rights of every citizen in the country.
Furthermore, the Organization will continue to pursue the vision of a crime-free society where peace, equity and justice would reign supreme.
Michael Iseyare is a Youth Corps member serving with PRAWA and can be reached on [email protected]