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HRW Demand prosecution of police officers harassing #EndSARS protesters

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Human Rights Watch has called for the prosecution of police officers and other security operatives allegedly using excessive force on #EndSARS protesters across the country.

The group stressed that the right to peaceful protest was guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and the international human rights law.

“Unnecessary use of force to disperse protesters is unlawful; protesters should instead be protected by the authorities,” it stressed.

HRW in a statement on Friday, noted that security forces have been responding to the peaceful #EndSARS protests with more violence and abuse, adding that the police had shot tear gas, water cannons, and live rounds at protesters, killing at least four people and wounding many others, adding that armed thugs had also disrupted protests and attacked protesters.

“People exercising their right to protest and calling for an end to police brutality are themselves being brutalized and harassed by those who should protect them. This underscores the importance of the protesters’ demands and the culture of impunity across the policing system, which is in dire need of reform,” Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, said.

HRW said it has documented incidents of police brutality and abuse of protesters across the country.

“A 30-year-old woman, said that at least four police officers beat her with big sticks and batons soon after the police fired tear gas and water cannons on protesters”

“Another, a 28-year-old woman, said that she was on her way home from work on October 11 around the Federal Secretariat in Abuja when she saw a crowd of people running in her direction. She also started running but soon stopped to figure out where she was going.

The victim was quoted to have said “As soon as the police arrived there and saw me, one asked me what I was doing there, and when I replied that I was on my way back from work, he asked, ‘Which work?'” she said. “I didn’t even get a chance to explain or show identification before others came and started beating me with big sticks. About six officers gathered around me, beating me as I lay on the ground. One even threatened me with a knife; they emptied the contents of my bag all over the floor and smashed my phone before they let me go.”

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