By Segun James
Global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has raised concern over the inability of the federal government to hold those involved in human rights violation accountable.
In a statement by the Media Manager of Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, the group decried what it described as pervasive violence against women.
According to the statement, these include purported rape of women and girls at various Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps, as well as sexual violence against female detainees by security operatives, sometimes in order to extract confessions.
The group said it was worried that the violations have continued, despite the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act by the National Assembly in 2015.
“While welcoming Nigeria’s acceptance of recommendations to intensify efforts to combat gender-based violence, the organisation urges the government to ensure that victims throughout the Federation can seek legal redress for gender-based violations, in line with the provisions of the VAPP,” it said.
“Since the beginning of the armed conflict in North-east Nigeria in 2009, Amnesty International has documented war crimes and other human rights abuses by Boko Haram and serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the security forces, including arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearances, unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions,” it stated further.
It, however, frowned on the lack of accountability for crimes committed by Boko Haram, as well as by government forces in the fight against the insurgents, and called on the government to ensure that the perpetrators were brought to justice in fair trials.
The organisation noted that several states had called on the federal government to strengthen the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.
In order to promote these rights, it disclosed that it recently launched a campaign on freedom of expression in Nigeria.
Amnesty International explained that this was a platform to call on the government to ensure that journalists and other media professionals could operate without fear of arrests or other reprisals.
Noting that the Human Rights Council has adopted a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcome on Nigeria, the group commended the nation’s cooperation with the review process and its positive response to some of the recommendations made by other states in the UPR Working Group.
The rights group had in 2018 accused Nigerian security forces of raping thousands of women and girls at IDPs’ camps in the country.
Before the release of AI’s report, the Nigerian Military had announced that it had received credible intelligence report of a plan by the Amnesty International to release a false report on “fictitious rape incidents” in IDPs camps in the North-east region of Nigeria, urging the public to disregard the report.
However, AI released the report, entitled “They betrayed us”, the global rights group reported “how the Nigerian military and Civilian Joint Task Force (Civilian JTF) have separated women from their husbands and confined them in remote ‘satellite camps’ where they have been raped, sometimes in exchange for food.”
Amnesty International said it has collected evidence that thousands of people have starved to death in the camps in Borno State, north-east Nigeria, since 2015.
“It is absolutely shocking that people who had already suffered so much under Boko Haram have been condemned to further horrendous abuse by the Nigerian military,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“Instead of receiving protection from the authorities, women and girls have been forced to succumb to rape in order to avoid starvation or hunger.”
It said women had reported being beaten and called “Boko Haram wives” by the security officials when they complained about their treatment.
“As Nigeria’s military recovered territory from the armed group in 2015, it ordered people living in rural villages to the satellite camps, in some cases indiscriminately killing those who remained in their homes. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled or were forced from these areas.
“The military screened everyone arriving to the satellite camps, and in some locations detained most men and boys aged between 14 and 40 as well as women who travelled unaccompanied by their husbands. The detention of so many men has left women to care for their families alone.