News and Articles

Ending the Unthinkable Injustice of Human Chaining

A man’s legs chained in a Christian rehabilitation center in Ibadan City, Oyo State, Nigeria, Ibadan City, Oyo State, Nigeria, September 2019. Women and men are chained and tied for perceived or actual mental health condition or intellectual disability. © 2019 Robin Hammond for Human Rights Watch.
April 8, 2020

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we take united action to end the most extreme practices of torture and confinement: chaining and human shackling.

Chaining is a global human rights issue. Human Rights Watch has documented its use in numerous countries, including Indonesia, Ghana, Somaliland, and most recently Nigeria.

Human Rights Watch has found that thousands of people with actual or perceived mental health conditions across Nigeria are chained and locked up in various facilities, including state-owned rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, and faith-based and traditional healing centers. Many are shackled with iron chains, around one or both ankles, to heavy objects or to other detainees, in some cases for months or years. While Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari denounced chaining as torture, the government has yet to outlaw chaining people with mental health conditions.

In an op-ed for Inter Press Service News Agency, Kim Samuel, founder of SCSC, and Emina Ćerimović, senior disability rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, make the case that banning chaining is just the first step. It’s also necessary to monitor and meaningfully enforce the ban. Further, they contend it’s essential to prioritize providing psychosocial support and mental health services as close as possible to people’s own communities.

Read more at the Inter Press Service News Agency.