- Amnesty International asks ICC t to start investigations of atrocities committed in the Boko Haram insurgency
- The ICC is looking at into eight potential cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the violence, involving both the Nigerian military and the insurgents
- The human rights group accused the Nigerian government of failing to bring those responsible for the crimes to justice
Amnesty International on Monday, December 10, asked the International Criminal Court to start a full-blown investigation into atrocities allegedly committed in the Boko Haram insurgency, accusing the Nigerian government of failing to bring those responsible to justice.
The ICC chief prosecutor Fatma Bensouda opened a preliminary examination in 2010 into eight potential cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the violence.
Six cases relate to the Boko Haram insurgents and include the killing of civilians, mass kidnapping, attacks on schools and places of worship, sexual violence, plus the use of children in conflict.
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The other two involving attacks on civilians, mass arrests and detention of suspects, abuse, torture and summary executions, concern the military.
Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has reportedly killed more than 27,000 people and left 1.8 million homeless in northeast Nigeria since 2009, triggering a humanitarian crisis in the wider region.
President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2015 promised to “leave no stone unturned to promote the rule of law and deal with all cases of human rights abuses”.
Bensouda acknowledged in her latest annual report published on December 5 that Nigeria appeared to have taken “concrete steps” towards investigating the allegations.
She wrote there appeared to be a “tangible prospect” of proceedings against Boko Haram members but not against troops “since the Nigerian authorities tend to deny any allegation”.
But Amnesty International reportedly claimed that the federal government was giving the impression of domestic action but in reality doing very little.
“Eight years since the opening of the preliminary examination and faced with the continuing commission of crimes under international law and the possibility of a never-ending preliminary analysis, it is time for the OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) to open a formal investigation in Nigeria,” it said.
The human rights group said none of the more than 20 government inquiries launched into claims of abuse by troops and civilian militia members in the last nine years has led to formal investigations and prosecutions.
Instead, the proceedings appeared designed to provide a “veneer of accountability” and exonerate senior officers and “shield persons concerned from criminal responsibility”, the group alleged.
The group added that there had been a “minimal” number of prosecutions against mid- to high-ranking Boko Haram members for serious crimes such as terrorism, murder or hostage-taking.
The report further claimed that mass trials of more than 1,000 suspects that began in October 2017 were a “sham” designed to provide “legal cover” for those held in prolonged, arbitrary and unlawful detention.
Prosecutions were based on unreliable and untested confessions or guilty pleas, while defendants had a lack of access to lawyers and trials were rushed through, Amnesty said.
It added that most of those on trial were acquitted due to lack of evidence or walked free because of time already served in custody. The majority appeared to be civilians caught up in the conflict.
Amnesty said Nigeria had failed to meet its obligations under international law to investigate and prosecute crimes as part of the ICC’s preliminary examination.
Further delays to a formal investigation “will allow further destruction and decay of evidence”, it added in the 74-page report.
“It is in the interests of both the OTP and Nigeria to demonstrate that serious steps are being taken to cure Nigeria’s inability or unwillingness to bring perpetrators to justice,” it said.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported the presidency announced that President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday, December 9 received a condolence message from King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan over the loss of Nigerian soldiers in a recent Boko Haram attack.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, who confirmed the message in a statement, said the Asian king also sent a message of assurance of support in the fight against terrorism while also praying for peace and calm in Nigeria, and throughout African region.
According to the statement, the message was delivered by King Abdullah himself via a telephone conversation with President Buahri.
The presidency said King Abdullah, who is from the Hashemite family of Jordan, also commended troops of the Nigerian Army for their courage and resilience in the face of challenges in fighting extremist terrorism.
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