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International Day for Wrongful Convictions: IHRC sendsmessage to Africa

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By RUTH OKETUNDE

ABUJA- The Africa Region Headquarters of the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has sent a special message in commemoration of the Wrongful Convictions Day.

Dr Edward Olutoke, IHRC Director for Housing, in a statement, notes the desire by everyone to see the right person brought to justice, and that no one wants to be a part of a failed effort that sends the wrong person to prison.

Olutoke, therefore, called for rededicating ways and means to stop illegal arrest and wrongful conviction “because even with the best of intentions, wrongful arrests, prosecutions and convictions can and do occur”.

Chief Ezinwa Onyekachukwu, the Principal Administrator for the IHRC Department on Wrongful Convictions, led the way in highlighting the issues of wrongful convictions at the Council Chambers of the IHRC in Nairobi.

Onyekachukwu sees no reason to debate on the fact that wrongful convictions have a profoundly damaging impact on everyone, from the innocent person convicted, to the victims, communities at large, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and juries, the statement said.

“The only person immune to this damage is the actual offender who remains unaccountable and at large, free to commit new crimes and create new victims.

“From research carried out by the IHRC department on wrongful convictions, there remains with us a myriad of missteps and inaccuracies that lead to wrongful arrest, prosecution and conviction, not just one person or one action.

“The IHRC Africa Region Headquarters Wrongful Convictions department used the celebration of the day to announce that it is planning that in the year 2023 it shall bring together practitioners and experts from around the African countries and challenged them to create a blueprint to reduce wrongful convictions in Africa.

“The IHRC is using this occasion of the 2022 International Day of Wrongful Convictions to, therefore, emphasise a good plan to convene the Wrongful Convictions Summit in Africa.

“The summit will be held Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2023 with the support of several intergovernmental organisations.

“The goal of the summit shall be to examine the issues surrounding wrongful arrests, prosecutions, and convictions and, most importantly, develop a set of recommendations that law enforcement leaders and their justice system colleagues can both implement and evaluate.

“More than75 subject matter experts from law enforcement, the justice system, and civil society community shall participate in the summit.

“There will be important remarks by invited special guests and a plenary panel on the issue, participants will also be divided into four working groups: making rightful arrests; correcting wrongful arrests; technology and forensic issues; and re-examining closed
cases.

“The message from Nairobi indicates that in good conscience and for equity and fairness, the Africa Region Headquaters of the International Human Rights Commission in Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC has thrown its support to the position of the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the immediate release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

“The IHRC’s Africa Region HQ is aligning with the argument because fairness and natural justice must be non-negotiable and no country that is a signatory to the UN can ignore and refused to give the due respect to the investigation which the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has carried out,’’ the statement quoted IHRC’s Africa Region Director/Ambassador, Dr Tivlumun Ahure, as saying.(NAN)

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