Human Rights Watch Calls for Greater Civilian Protection Against Boko Haram Attacks
March 28, 2015
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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.