Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights welcomes the re-introduction of a U.S. House of Representatives Resolution supporting the #ENDSARS movement against police brutality in Nigeria by Representatives Al Green and Joaquin Castro.
The #EndSARS movement calls for the disbandment of the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which has been implicated in widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extrajudicial killings. The movement encapsulates the call for broader police and governance reforms in Nigeria.
Last October, a video was widely shared online appearing to show footage of the brutal treatment and robbery of a Nigerian citizen by SARS officers. Since this footage emerged, thousands of people across Nigeria publicly and peacefully demonstrated against police brutality and demanding the disbandment of SARS. However, on October 20, 2020, armed security forces indiscriminately fired live ammunition on a crowd of peaceful protestors that had gathered at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Nigeria, resulting in numerous deaths and injuries, in an event now known as ‘‘Black Tuesday.” More recently, on February 13 2021 peaceful demonstrators were reportedly arrested and tortured during a protest in response to the decision of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry to reopen the Lekki tollgate (scene of the October 20 incident) pending the completion of forensic analysis.
“[This] resolution presents a unique opportunity for the US House of Representatives to unanimously condemn police brutality and impunity in Nigeria as well as sustain the campaign against racial injustice in the United States,” says Ikechukwu Uzoma, Africa Staff Attorney. “The inspiring #EndSARS movement and its demands for justice, accountability, and meaningful police reform in Nigeria mirrors the call for equity in the United States’ criminal justice system and deserves congressional support.”
The resolution calls on the Nigerian government to refrain from using excessive force against peaceful protesters in compliance with international law; desist from the attacks, intimidation and violation of the rights of Nigerians to protest; and to release all persons wrongfully arrested for participating or supporting the #EndSARS protests. It further calls upon the President of the United States and the Secretary of State to safeguard and promote the protection of freedoms of thought, assembly, and expression in Nigeria and around the world.
In addition to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the resolution has also been endorsed by Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, and PEN America.
Read the Congressional press release here.