Africa

Nigeria launches first national sex offenders register

By Al Jazeera 26 November 2019
Caption
epa04704962 A picture made available on 15 April 2015 shows Nigerians holding candles during a vigil for the one year anniversary of the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls in Chibok, Abuja, Nigeria, 14 April 2015. Islamic militant group Boko Haram who have been waging a war of terror in Nigeria for more than five years kidnapped more than 220 girls last year with many of them still remaining missing. EPA/STR

Nigeria has launched its first national sexual offenders register, setting up a database of those convicted for sexual violence in a move seen as an important step towards clamping down on abuse.

The “Sexual Offender Register” will contain the names of all those prosecuted for sexual violence since 2015. More: UN calls for urgent action to end violence in Nigeria Nigeria’s ex-attorney general arrested in Dubai over oil deal Nigeria urged to ban chaining people with mental health issues

One in four Nigerian women are sexually abused before they turn 18, with the majority of cases of sexual abuse in country are not prosecuted, according to the

United Nations children agency UNICEF .

At Monday’s launch in the capital, Abuja, Sadiya Farouq,

minister for humanitarian affairs, said “the register will serve as a strategy to stop those engaged in violence against women”.

She added that a humanitarian and security crisis in northeast Nigeria caused by a decade-long armed campaign had seen a rise in cases of sexual abuse which needed to be addressed.

The register will be available online to better help the public, state bodies and police conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.

Suspects who are cleared will also be recorded in a part of the register only available to law enforcement agencies, amid concerns by campaigners that the majority of sexual offenders escape prosecution due to failings in the justice system.

Ordinary citizens will be able to access the register, which is managed by Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking Persons and is funded mainly by the European Union.

An initial group of 15 NGOs will monitor police and media reports across Nigeria and update the register on a monthly basis.

Currently, only two of Nigeria’s 36 states, Lagos and Ekiti, keep databases of those convicted of sexual offences.

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