PRAWA seeks exclusion of petty offences in lawbooks over discrimination
Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), a non-governmental organization (NGO), has called for the removal of petty offences from the Nigerian lawbooks.
The Deputy Director of PRAWA, Mrs. Ogechi Ogu, made this known to journalists, on Thursday, in Abuja.
Mrs. Ogu, while maintaining that detaining petty offenders is not only discriminatory, but favors certain group of people in the society, also condemned the criminalization of petty offenders by security operatives.
“Arresting and detaining of petty offenders is discriminatory, because these persons have no jobs and are probably not sheltered. When they are detained in custodial facilities, they end up being tagged as wanderers and vagabonds due to their economic status,” she said.
According to her, PRAWA and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), “are working to ensure that petty offences do not exist in the first place due to our fundamental rights like freedom of movement, right to live, right to shelter, and sustenance. We expect that the law should look at the circumstances of everybody.”
Ogu, added that PRAWA, which promotes human rights for people in prison, is more determined to advocate and call for the total decriminalization of petty offences like hawking, and failure to pay debts, among others, as well as provide support to petty offenders.
“We are appealing to the legislature and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the statute law is amended to remove the provisions that aids the arrest of people for petty offences. Also, we will continue to provide legal and para-legal services to offenders in cases where they are being detained or tortured,” she noted.
The PRAWA Deputy Director, called on the government and other relevant stakeholders to provide support and better alternatives to petty offenders, by forming a cooperative association for them rather than detaining them in custodial facilities.