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09 December 2021

Bindmans LLP calls on UK ministers to act in light of Nnamdi Kanu’s ongoing torture

2 mins

Bindmans LLP has been instructed by the family of Nnamdi Kanu to raise urgent concerns with ministers about his detention in conditions which amount to torture. We have also outlined a series of options for diplomatic and international legal action against Nigeria and key officials there, requesting assurances that they will be considered urgently and the resulting action plan is then fully explained. 

Mr Kanu is a British national leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement. He was brought to Nigeria without any due process and the Nigerian government has produced no evidence to show there was not extraordinary rendition. Since 27 June 2021, Mr Kanu has been detained in solitary confinement in a cell measuring six by six feet for nearly 24 hours a day. He has also been denied medical assistance for ongoing health conditions.

Concerns have repeatedly been raised by Bindmans with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and by Mr Kanu’s lawyers in Nigeria with the authorities and courts there. Neither government has disputed that Mr Kanu is being detained in these conditions.

It is internationally recognised that prolonged solitary confinement of more than 15 consecutive days constitutes torture. Mr Kanu has been detained in such conditions for nearly six months.

To date, the UK’s diplomatic efforts have had very little effect. UK officials have only been able to visit Mr Kanu once whilst in detention, his conditions of detention have not changed since that visit and no other progress has been made in assisting him. 

Shirin Marker, Solicitor at Bindmans LLP who is representing Mr Kanu’s family comments:

The British government has a firm and explicit policy on condemning and seeking to end torture and mistreatment. That policy sets out a range of actions open to the UK authorities when an individual with British nationality is subject to torture abroad. There is no dispute that Mr Kanu is being tortured.

It is essential, therefore, that the FCDO steps up its efforts to assist him and stop his torture imminently. To do otherwise would be inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under international law and the principles of its policy. We have made detailed representations to the FCDO on its legal obligations through its lawyers, and expect a prompt response on what action will now be taken.

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