News

June 11, 2024

Amnesty Int’l, DHQ disagree over treatment of female victims of B’Haram

Amnesty Int’l, DHQ disagree over treatment of female victims of B’Haram

By: Kingsley Omonobi & Luminous Jannamike

Amnesty International, AI and the Defence Headquarters are at loggerheads over the treatment of female victims of Boko Haram.

While AI in its report, released, yesterday, accused the Nigerian military of detaining and abusing female survivors of Boko Haram,  the Defence Headquarters said the Armed Forces of Nigeria were professional forces that operate within the ambit of international law of armed conflict.

In its report entitled ‘Help us build our lives: Girl survivors of Boko Haram and military abuses in North East,’  AI alleged that the military has held women and girls, some as young as 12, in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without access to medical care or legal representation.

The women, many of whom were abducted by Boko Haram and forced into marriages or sexual slavery, are being detained on suspicion of being affiliates of the terrorist group, the group alleged.

The executive summary reads, “Amnesty International’s report is based on 126 interviews with girls and young women who were associated with Boko Haram. “

The report examined the abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed by Boko Haram and the Nigerian authorities, including the military.

It highlighted the unique experiences of girls and young women who were forced to marry, subjected to sexual violence, and domestic servitude. Many were unlawfully detained by the Nigerian military in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without access to medical care or legal representation.

“The Nigerian government has failed to re-integrate these girls and young women, denying them access to justice, education, livelihood opportunities and adequate health services.

“The Borno State government’s ‘Borno Model’ for reintegration has been inadequate, and girls and young women have been largely invisible to government authorities during the screening process.”

DHQ operates within ambit of international law

However, DHQ, in a statement, disagreed, maintaining: “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to allegations labelled against the Armed Forces of Nigeria by the Amnesty International Report launched during a Press Conference in Abuja June 10, 2024.

“Accordingly, the AFN is hereby making it unequivocally clear that, it is a professional force that operates within the ambit of international law of armed conflict as well as adheres to the humanitarian law and principles governing human rights.

“The AFN elects not to join words with such organisations, rather would encourage them to approach the military high command to substantiate their allegations. The military has self regulating mechanisms within the military justice system to address any proven case.

“It is worthy of note to state that, the AFN led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa has zero tolerance for indiscipline and any form of improper conduct during operations across the country,” the statement concluded.