August 21, 2013

U.S. Agency says Boko Haram attacks religiously-motivated

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday said Boko Haram had become the primary perpetrator of religiously-related and gross freedom violations in Nigeria.  

The USCIRF, in a brief statement issued in Washington, stated it had documented the group’s attacks from July 2012 to July 2013 to arrive at its conclusion.

“Boko Haram’s targets include churches, individual Christians, Muslim critics, and persons engaged in behaviour deemed un-Islamic.

“Others are northern elders, schools, police stations, government buildings, newspapers, and banks”, it noted.

It said the International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in November

2012 and August 2013 said there was reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram committed crimes against humanity.

USCIRF had earlier this year recommended that Nigeria be designated as a “country of particular concern” (CPC).  

The statement also recalled that the commission recommended CPC status for Nigeria since 2009, adding: “Before that, Nigeria had been on USCIRF’s Watch List since 2002.’’

 The USCIRF was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad.

This was in line with the definition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments.

It gives independent policy recommendations to the U.S. President, Secretary of State, and the Congress.PANA/NAN