The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor, Muhammed Ladan while speaking at the Dialogue on the 30th October – 1st November 2019 in Uganda offered possible solutions on how best to fight insurgency within the rule of law.
He noted that the negative impact terrorism has had on the country; most Human Rights Groups have often accused the Federal Government and the judiciary of undermining the fundamental rights and principles in its counter-terrorism fight. He therefore harped on the need to ensure balance in the determination of individual rights and the rights necessary for the protection of public interest.
According to him “First, we must avoid voicing the common states’ objection to lack of reciprocity by insurgents or terrorists for their refusal to observe the rule of law and respect human rights in their counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism measures. By their very nature, insurgents ignore the rule of law and respect for human rights. It is clear that, unless states are prepared to respect the humanity and legal norms which they accuse insurgents of desecrating, they will lose their moral claim and community support to win the war on insurgency/terror. In this way, it is the very lack of reciprocity which allows states to continue their battle against insurgents/terrorist groups that impedes the fight against terrorism.
While speaking on the role of judges in criminal proceedings most especially on counter-terrorism, Professor Ladan said there is need for the jurists to take a central role in ensuring that a proper balance is struck, as regards substantive and procedural law and also between the need to detect and pursue offences of terrorism and the safeguarding of the human rights of those suspected of and charged with such offences.
“However serious the offence may be, the courts should, at all stages of investigations, ensure that restrictions of individual rights be limited to those strictly necessary for the protection of public interest. The courts should evaluate the validity and legitimacy of evidence collected by investigators and have the legal power to refuse evidence obtained by means of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, or by violating the rights of the defence, or by other illegal actions. The courts should ensure that decisions concerning investigations be in accordance with the rules of fair trial and equality of arms.
“On the other hand, the judges should also take into account the international legal provisions, including anti terrorist legislation, safeguarding the position of the victims of serious crimes, especially when they are witnesses in a case. It is for the judge to ensure at every stage of the procedure that all effective measures are taken for the alleged victims to fully exercise their rights while at the same time fully respecting the rights of the defendant”. He said.
The 4th Africa Judicial Dialogue attracted senior judges and other legal luminaries from across Africa and Issues such as the rights of refugees and indigenous people, the right to bring legal action concerning elections result disputes were discussed at the forum.