International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Human Rights Watch Calls for Greater Civilian Protection Against Boko Haram Attacks

Human Rights Watch published an article on Thursday of last week, condemning the continuation of violence carried out by Boko Haram in Western Africa, as well as criticizing Nigeria’s inability to deter the conflict and protect its citizens. So far this year, Boko Haram has been responsible for more than 1,000 civilian deaths and expanded its presence in the region by carrying out attacks in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger since February. These casualties from the past few months alone demonstrate a significant increase in the number of attacks being executed by the group, when compared to data collected from 2014 showing that Boko Haram killed at least 3,750 civilians during the entire year. While dealing with the issue of stopping the violent rebel group, Human Rights Watch researcher in Nigeria, Mausi Segun argues that concern must also be placed on how best to protect civilians in the meantime. Data collected by Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency suggests that since beginning their attacks in July 2009, Boko Haram is responsible for the displacement of nearly one million civilians, who were forced to flee their homes to avoid being either killed or recruited into the violent group.

Further investigation by Human Rights Watch into the growing conflict situation also provides evidence that Nigerian Security Forces have not taken the appropriate measures to adequately protect citizens from Boko Haram, and that military operations have done little to counter the group’s violent efforts, and only added to the number of civilians displaced and killed. This prompted the African Union to endorse a multinational task force including troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger in order to fight and contain Boko Haram’s violence, and to request a United Nations Security Council resolution to lend greater support. The ongoing situation in Nigeria is currently under preliminary examination by the ICC Prosecutor, which could potentially lead to the opening of an official investigation into the conflict. Because the ICC is a court of last resort, the Prosecutor is not willing to present the case to the Court unless he finds that the Nigerian state, after exhausting all resources, is overall unable to control the situation themselves; however, he did issue a statement in February of this year, warning that any act of violence carried out in Nigeria which falls under the jurisdiction of the Court, is susceptible to prosecution by the domestic court system as well as the ICC.

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One response to “Human Rights Watch Calls for Greater Civilian Protection Against Boko Haram Attacks

  1. ah2017intjustice March 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Boko Haram’s role in Nigeria is especially critical at this time because the nation is in the midst of an election. This election is the first closely contested presidential race in the nation’s history and will be a test to Nigeria’s democratic stability. The incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan is being challenged by Nigeria’s former military dictator and current coalition leader, Muhammad Buhari. If Buhari won, it would be the first time since Nigeria’s independence in 1960 that the incumbent president did not win reelection. The Jonathan and the Nigerian military announced Friday that they had destroyed Boko Haram’s headquarters, but many believe the timing of the report indicates it’s no more than a strategy to win votes for President Jonathan. Both sides have addressed the threat of Boko Haram in their campaigns, promising to put an end to the violence if elected, but Boko Haram is making ever effort to inhibit the election’s success.

    Boko Haram has killed 41 people and intimidated hundreds others at polling stations, sending “messages warning not to encourage democracy by participating in the election.” Boko Haram believes democracy a corrupt Western ideal and advocates for an Islamic caliphate. This has exacerbated religious tensions, as incumbent President Jonathan is Christian, representing a constituency in the oil-rich south, and challenger Buhari is Muslim, who represents much of the farming and cattle-herding north. As a whole, Nigeria is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

    There have also been several problems with polling in addition to Boko Haram’s intimidation. In efforts to prevent fraud, new biometric voting cards have been implemented in many cities, but have had several technical problems. Delays have resulted, and the voting was extended from through Sunday. Votes are currently being counted, and the results should be announced within 48 hours. The potential for post-election violence is high – 1,000 were killed in post-election violence in 2011 – and this is only exacerbated by the threat of Boko Haram.

    Sources:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/boko-haram-kills-41-in-attack-to-disrupt-nigeria-presidential-election-1.3013881
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/28/nigeria-election-boko-haram_n_6960788.html

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