The Anambra state working group on the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) has charged magistrates in the state to take proactive measures towards checkmating violation of the fundamental human rights of crime suspects by police officers.
The group, during its 5th bi-monthly review on the progress and challenges on the implementation of the ACJL in Anambra, recently, noted with concern, the continued abuse of rights of crime suspects by police officials in parts of the state from the moments of arrest up to detention, most times, leading to prolonged detention and incarceration, while awaiting trial.
The group, argued that intervention of magistrates could go a long way in checkmating the excesses of police officers and ensure that criminal justice system in the state is fair and just. They recommend, among other things, that
“Magistrates should visit the police cells from time to time to know how many persons are detained therein, why they were not charged to court, at least, within 48 hours, as recommended by the constitution. The magistrates should be bold enough to send the police back when they bring what they call charge, because it is not a proper procedure for initiating a remand proceeding.
“Magistrates should release persons, who have been in custody for 150 days without trial after remand.
“Magistrates should look into the human condition of persons detained at the police cells such as stripping them naked before being detained and keeping them in dirty cells. This should be contained in their visit reports and also make effort to alert human rights agencies. Women should also be encouraged to take people on bail.
Members of the working group also suggested that there should be a clear separation of the Attorney General’s office and that of the Commissioner for Justice for effective running of the functions of the office; and that there should be provision to allow private prosecutors and detectives.
“Bail at the police stations is free and must be seen and ensured by the police and all concerned to be free. There should be provision of assessors and employment of many of them for each court in states for the effective implementation of the Child Right Law and criminal trials involving children and young persons.