Stories from UNODC Nigeria

The presumption of innocence, fairness and the rights of offenders

To commemorate the 75 th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights UNODC is running a series of articles over the course of the year connecting our work in Nigeria to these universal principles.


"Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which [they have] had all the guarantees necessary for [their] defense"

"No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed."

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articulates several critical elements of the rule of law, in relation to suspects and convicts of criminal offences. Article 11.1 explicitly captures the presumption of innocence and the fundamental rights and legal protections to be afforded to suspects. Article 11.2 prohibits the application of retroactive laws and discourages the imposition of disproportionately hefty sentences for crimes committed.

Dogo, a drug user, was charged with the offence of aiding and abetting the sale of two (2) grams of cocaine, in 2021. In the absence of legal representation and while awaiting trial, Dogo was detained and placed in the custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for almost 10 months. In detention,[Read More]