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PRAWA Partnerships on Torture Rehabilitation and Prevention: Lessons from Prison-based Interventions. Godwin Ugbor. The Need for Partnership. Perpetration of torture by law enforcement and criminal justice agents in most African countries has assumed a frightening dimension. Owing to

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prawa partnerships on torture rehabilitation and prevention lessons from prison based interventions

PRAWA Partnerships on Torture Rehabilitation and Prevention: Lessons from Prison-based Interventions

Godwin Ugbor

the need for partnership
The Need for Partnership

Perpetration of torture by law enforcement and

criminal justice agents in most African countries

has assumed a frightening dimension. Owing to

government and public expectation of high

performance from the police, coupled with their

apparent lack of investigative skill and tools, they

(police officers) resort to crude methods to appear

to be performing.


The consequence of the foregoing is the widespread use

of torture to coerce suspects to confess to crime, leaving

a host of the victims with various degrees of physical and

psychological effects. A large number of these victims

end up in the prisons. Research indicate that over 70% of

prison inmates are victims of torture. Almost all suffer

physical torture in the hands of the police (except the

rich and powerful). In prisons they face psychological

torture and inhumane and degrading treatment.



In one of the states in Nigeria where PRAWA is providing intervention on rehabilitation for torture victims - prisons in Enugu State, southeast Nigeria

(with a population of 2067 inmates), about 1,400 inmates have suffered physical and psychological torture. PRAWA devise intervention to provide services and support to these through partnership.

The funding of this was through the OAK/IRCT Grant.

the approach



  • Initiate Prison – Based intervention (not waiting for them to be discharged from prison).
  • Accessing higher number of clients than would have been possible in the centre (average of 72 clients per month and 864 clients per year in 3 prisons).
  • Early provision of support to help alleviate some of the effects of the torture.
  • Eliminating transport cost for the clients or the burden of this by PRAWA



  • Engage and build the skills and capacity of prison health workers including through mentoring. This involved especially the psychologists (1) and nurses (15) in the targeted 3 prisons (total 16 prison health workers) on rehabilitation of torture victims including psychological assessment of victims.
  • Provision of 24/7 (all – round) support.
  • Lessen the work load on the PRAWA Team.
  • Institutionalization/integrating the rehabilitation of torture victims into the health services in prison
  • Elimination of salary cost and overhead on care givers as their salaries are covered by the government.
  • Indirect provision of a kind of ‘NGO Presence’ – care minded pull of staff in the prison that care/help provide support and care to victims



  • Development of Practice Guide for Prison Health Workers on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (including a checklist for assessing the symptoms of torture)
  • Serves as Resource Tool for the use of the trained prison health workers.
  • Ease the process of assessing the torture victims (i.e. Through the use of the check list).
  • Help to facilitate quality control
  • Help to encourage long term sustainability of the intervention even beyond the funding duration.



  • Building other partnerships/increase other stakeholders involvement


  • Medical Students (to provide free basic medical checks) – Medix Frontiers
  • Volunteer Lawyers to provide access to legal representation (working through the Bar Association).
  • Engaged the Chief Judge to provide bail or release of some of the victims through the jail delivery exercises.
  • Involve Faith Based Organizations
  • Increase the scope of services and support provided to the victims.
  • increase the legitimacy and acceptance by the prison authorities and the clients.
  • Encourages a holistic support which includes psycho-social, medical and legal support
psychological services being provided
Psychological services being provided
  • Group counseling
  • Individual Counseling
  • Psychodrama
  • Systematic Desensitization; and
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Others:

Dangers of Drug/Substance Abuse

the prevention component
The Prevention Component..


The Project Purpose and Scope

1. On another partnership with NPS, PRAWA, under the Human Rights Training Integration (HRTI) project, is currently providing training and capacity building for prison officers on Human Rights and Good Prison Practice including development of resource materials on it and establishing core group of regional based mixed team (PRAWA/Prisons) Trainers to carryout follow up training.

The Project Purpose:

‘ improve the awareness and observance of international human rights principles and good prison practice in Nigerian prisons’


Implemented in 15 prisons in 4 states - Lagos State (5 prisons), Enugu State (4 prisons), Kaduna State (5 prisons), and FCT Abuja

(1 prison).

From September – November 2012 over 600 officers have been trained by the teams of trainers.

the gains of partnerships in conclusion
The GAINS of Partnerships…..In Conclusion

The success of this intervention is based on the strength and value of the partnership fostered in the project.

It helped achieved the following:

  • Increased Reach (in terms of number and types of services provide)
  • Increased Visibility
  • Enhanced Credibility and Legitimacy of the intervention
  • Cost Effective
  • Enhanced Sustainability
  • Widening of the support base on the issue of torture prevention and rehabilitation of torture victims.
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • It enhances the scope of services as more victims of torture can be reached on the basis of partnership
  • Provides a platform for sharing of knowledge on best practices among organisations and/or agencies towards a greater access to rehabilitation by victims of torture, and ultimately towards prevention of torture.
  • Avails organisations the expertise of members of the partnering organisation(s)

- Partnership presents many benefits and therefore, ought to be embraced by all if we are to raise our services of rehabilitation and prevention of torture, while at the same time lessening the burden on caregivers.

  • Thank You