Posted by Timige, On 13 Dec, 2020 | Updated On 13 Dec, 2020 No Comments »
On December 11, 2020, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria. The preliminary examination was opened on November 18, 2010, following several communications received by the Office of the Prosecutor (the OTP) which suggested that mass atrocities had occurred, involving Boko Haram militants based in Nigeria.
In her statement of December 11, 2020, the Prosecutor confirmed that, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) “has concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of Boko Haram and its splinter groups have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder; rape, sexual slavery, including forced pregnancy and forced marriage; enslavement; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed groups and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.”
Boko Haram’s use of sexual violence against girls and women first gained international attention when on April 14, 2014, the terrorist group abducted 276 girls, mostly between 16 and 18 years of age, from a secondary school in Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. The ensuing social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls gained the attention of worldwide media and was supported by a number of celebrities, but was largely unsuccessful in motivating any operation to secure their release. Nonetheless, it has to be emphasized that the Boko Haram atrocities have affected much greater numbers than those kidnapped at Chibok. The terror group has been targeting schools because of the belief that schools teach Western values. Boko Haram conducts attacks in predominately Muslim states and the majority of abducted girls are Muslim. However, Christian girls have also been targeted by Boko Haram. Christian girls abducted by Boko Haram are forced to convert to Islam (and/or marry their abductors). Leah Sharibu is one of them.
The Prosecutor further announced that the OTP found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces (NSF) have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, including “murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; forcible transfer of population; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; unlawful imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.”
The next step will be to request authorization from the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open investigations. However, as the ICC is chronically underfunded with zero net growth, while at the same time, becoming overwhelmed by cases, this may affect expediency of handling the next stage in the case. We need to ensure that the ICC has all the resources it requires to be able to do the important job of investigating atrocities and prosecuting those responsible.
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