Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights joined other human rights organisation to mark the second anniversary of the #EndSARS protests.
Bachelet called on the Nigerian authorities to address the root causes of the protests and ensure accountability for human rights violations, according to a statement.
“In the #EndSARS protests, the Nigerian people demanded an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings,” Bachelet said. “The protests faced a harsh crackdown, leading to the deaths of at least 56 people, including 12 at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos on 20 October 2020.”
While the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was disbanded following the protests, there have been few concrete reforms to address the ongoing issues of police brutality and impunity in Nigeria.
Furthermore, Bachelet urged the Nigerian authorities to implement the recommendations of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry into the Lekki Toll Gate incident and establish an independent police oversight mechanism to investigate and prosecute allegations of police misconduct.
“The #EndSARS protests were a reminder that the Nigerian people have the right to demand accountability from their government,” Bachelet stated. “I urge the authorities to listen to the voices of the people and take necessary steps to ensure that all Nigerians can live free from fear of police brutality.”
Similarly, Amnesty International marked the second anniversary of the #EndSARS protests by highlighting the ongoing lack of justice for victims of police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Nigeria.
The protests called for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious police unit responsible for widespread human rights abuses. Despite the disbandment of SARS in October 2020, the underlying problems of police brutality and impunity persist.
“The Nigerian authorities have not held police officers accountable for these abuses, and some have been promoted or redeployed to other units,” according to Amnesty International. “This lack of accountability has created a climate of impunity, allowing police officers to continue committing human rights abuses.”
Human Rights Watch also voiced concerns regarding the lack of accountability for human rights abuses. The organization called on the Nigerian authorities to conduct prompt, impartial, and effective investigations into all allegations of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses in fair trials, provide reparations to the victims of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, and implement comprehensive reforms to address the underlying problems of police brutality and impunity in Nigeria.
“Two years after the #EndSARS protests erupted across Nigeria, the government has failed to deliver justice to victims of police brutality and extrajudicial killings,” Human Rights Watch noted. “We call on the Nigerian authorities to take action on multiple fronts to address these critical issues.”