Human Rights Watch Opposes Amnesty For Boko Haram

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Global human rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, has warned the Federal Government’s committee that is considering granting amnesty to members of Islamic sect, Boko Haram, to stop the plans.

HRW said it opposed any plan to pardon those who had committed serious human rights violations, including killing of innocent persons.

The group warned the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North never to overlook such serious crimes, either committed by members of the Boko Haram sect or government’s security forces.

In a statement by its Africa Director, Daniel Bekele, on Tuesday, HRW said its 2012 report found that “Boko Haram’s attacks, including the murder of civilians and the persecution of Christians, likely amount to crimes against humanity under international law.”

The group, which said it had expressed its stand on the issue to the committee through a letter, added that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced in 2010 that it had begun a preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria.

The human rights (watchdog) stated that in November 2012, the ICC office concluded that there was “reasonable basis to believe” that Boko Haram had committed crimes against humanity, adding that the preliminary examination might or might not lead to an ICC investigation.

HRW said it had, on its part, documented “serious human rights abuses carried out by government security forces, in response to Boko Haram attacks”.

Among such rights abuses, according HRW, include “dozens of extrajudicial killings, burning of civilian property and detention-related abuses.”

“Boko Haram members have committed heinous crimes. Justice for the gravest abuses, whether by Boko Haram or security forces, is essential for victims and building of long-term peace in Nigeria,” Bekele stated

He said rather than granting amnesty to those known to have committed such “serious crimes that violate international human rights law”, the committee should hold any person, including members of security forces, that are culpable, accountable for their actions.

“Those responsible for these crimes should also be held to account,” the statement read.

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