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Promoting Good Governance.

HRW urges govt to ban use of shackles in mental health homes

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THE Human Rights Watch (HRW) has charged the Nigerian government to issue a directive that will completely ban the chaining of patients in mental health facilities across the country.

In a report published by the civil society organisation, it is noted that chaining of patients is an abuse of human rights.

HRW said it visited 28 mental facilities, and 27 of the facilities had their patients including a 10-year-old boy, chained or shackled.

According to HRW, the staff of the facilities chain either both or one ankle of a person and connect it to a very heavy or immovable object.

The report added that some of the patients were chained for days as punishment or as a preventive measure against escape.

HRW disclosed that the victims were not only chained in illegal rehabilitation centres but also in religious centres and government-owned facilities.

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It quoted the statements of some of the patients of the facility such as Zain in Abeokuta, Ogun State who said she was chained for three months which has caused her lots of injuries. Also, a 40 years old woman (Adedamola) held in a church in Ibadan for 2 years said while she was chained, she often got injuries on her ankles.

“Chaining can cause serious injuries and psychological distress, a 35-year-old woman chained for 10 months in an Islamic rehabilitation centre in Kano, northern Nigeria, said, “Everything about this (chaining) is difficult; you feel like you want to commit suicide … regardless of how you felt before coming here, you will get worse,” the report stated.

It added that the Conventions on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007 stated the obligation to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities, including right to liberty and freedom from torture, ill-treatment and forced treatment.

It noted that as much as the Nigerian government is clear on its position about torture, it has not specifically ban chaining in Nigeria mental institutions.

Emina Ceremovic, a researcher on disability rights at the Human rights watch also urged the Nigerian government to issue a ban on chaining inspect all facilities, both private and state ones and ensure people can access quality mental health services.

The report came after sacking of several illegal centres across Nigeria including Oyo state, Kaduna State, Adamawa state and Kwara where most victims have been found chained, malnourished or abused.

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