Following series of war crimes against humanity in Nigeria, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has called for formal inquiry to commence amidst a decade-long investigation into violence caused by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. Fatou Bensouda believes that the vast majority of crimes committed were by ‘’non-state actors,’’ but is insistent on Nigerian Security Forces being investigated for possible involvement. Violence in Northern Nigeria especially in the North-East has seen over 30,000 people killed and more than two million displaced. ICC’s preliminary examination which commenced in 2010 has reached a resolution that the “criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met”.
In a statement delivered on Friday, December 11, Bensouda listed a long list of crimes alleged to have been carried out by Boko Haram such as rape, murder, torture, sexual slavery, hostage, persecution, and enlistment of children (under the age of 15) into armed groups. The Kenyan who also noted that there are “reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces (NSF)” have committed crimes, reemphasized her conviction that the Nigerian justice system was capable of prosecuting such crimes, but due to its inability to pursue suspects ICC believes should stand trial, the ICC have to take up the case. Bensouda went further to call for financial support for her office from the funding parties in Nigeria and the ICC.
Reacting to Bensouda’s statement, Amnesty International described it as a ‘’milestone decision,’’ that would promote its “call for justice for victims one step closer”. Amnesty’s Director of Research and Advocacy, Netsanet Belay, noted that ICC’s resolve to carry out an investigation is ‘’the first meaningful step towards justice that we have seen for victims of atrocious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in north-east Nigeria”.
After years of calling on the ICC Prosecutor to open a full investigation, this is the first meaningful step towards justice that we have seen for victims of atrocious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in Northeast Nigeria. This is an important milestone, but it must be followed with immediate action to open a full investigation. For the victims of war crimes and potential crimes against humanity to see justice, it’s crucial that the Prosecutor swiftly begin an effective and well-resourced investigation.
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