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Human Rights Abuses by Army: Presidential Panel Begins Sitting…

The Presidential Investigation Panel instituted to review compliance of the Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement on Tuesday began sitting at Ikeja High Court in Lagos. The seven presidential investigation panels were inaugurated by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Aug. 11 as Acting President.
The panels will be sitting in the six geopolitical zones of the country on various dates from Sept. 11 to Nov. 3 with the Southwest Panel sitting in Lagos from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26. It is to hear at least six petitions of alleged human rights abuses brought against the Armed Forces by various individuals. The panel’s terms of reference are to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the Armed Forces of Nigeria and extent of compliance thereto. Also, it is to investigate alleged acts of violation of international humanitarian and human rights law under the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Geneva Convention Act, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant laws by the Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgencies.

It is also to investigate matters of conduct and discipline in the armed forces in local conflicts and insurgencies and recommend means of preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situation. They are also expected to make further recommendations in line with the terms of reference as may be deemed necessary. The eight-man panel headed by Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Court of Appeal include retired Maj.-Gen. Patrick Akem, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda and Prof. Hauwa Ibrahim. Others are Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwakama, Mr. Abba Ibrahim and Mr Adamu Abdulkadir.

Source: Vanguard;

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Director-General rescinds Goodwill Ambassador appointment

WHO statement
22 October 2017

Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.

I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised. I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.

It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.

For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values.

I remain firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need.

We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage.

I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts. I depend on constructive debate to help and inform the work I have been elected to do.

NCICC Blog

Rights of 12 Million Displaced people in Africa Ignored:…

The rights of Africa’s 12 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are often ignored and their demands are left unmet, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said in a new report released Wednesday.

Maurer presented the report to the African Union Peace and Security Council, which focused on the implementation of the Kampala treaty – an African Union treaty signed in 2009 to protect the IDPs and provide them access to humanitarian services.
He noted that armed conflict had been one of the major causes of internal displacement in Africa.
“These challenges arise with respect to IDPs’ movements both en route to the place of displacement and at the place of displacement – [particularly during movements in and out of IDP camps] – as well as in the screening of IDPs,” the report said, without listing any specific countries.
“The rights of the IDPs are not always fully understood or respected in practice, with the result that consideration of these rights, when faced with security concerns, may be less rigorous than is required.
“One very real and practical challenge during armed conflict is that of maintaining the strictly civilian and humanitarian character of IDP camps and other settings,” it said, noting the permanent presence of armed forces inside such camps.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting the AU Security Council, Maurer said: “Often states lack legal and policy frameworks to respond to the needs of IDPs.”
The ICRC chief, who visited Nigeria and Niger, added: “Authorities should consult and actively engage with IDPs and host communities to ensure their participation in decision-making. All ages, genders, religious and ethnic groups should be included.”
He gave the example of Mali where, he said, authorities had organised mobile schools to allow internally displaced youth to continue their education; Ethiopian authorities too “have allowed IDP children without identity documents to attend school, avoiding a disruption to their education.”

Source News Express

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Burundi-ICC: The legal consequences of opening of the investigation…


1. Background

 

Since Nkurunziza Pierre’s decision to run for a third term in violation of the constitution and the historic Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement of Burundi, in April 2015, Burundi has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis with an escalating violence. According to estimates by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), between 26 April 2015 and 30 August 2016, at least 564 cases of executions have been registered. By the end of April 2016, the OHCHR office in Burundi had documented 36 enforced disappearances, 3477 arbitrary arrests or detentions, 651 cases of torture and 19 cases of sexual violence since the beginning of the crisis.

Burundi has been a State party to the Rome Statute since 1 December 2004. The International Criminal Court (hereinafter referred to as the ICC) has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide and war crimes committed on territory of Burundi or by Burundian nationals as from that date.

The evolution of the situation in the country has thus legitimately attracted the attention of the ICC Prosecutor who twice expressed his concerns about the Preliminary examination is the initial phase of any proceeding before the ICC, in which the ICC Prosecutor’s Office determines “whether there is a reasonable basis for initiating an investigation”

The reaction of the Burundian state was not long in coming and on October 7, 2016, he announced his intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute. On October 12, 2016, the two Houses of Parliament of Burundi had already passed the bill of withdrawal, in an unprecedented rush, President Nkurunziza promulgated the law on October 18, 2016. On October 27, 2016, Burundi officially notified its withdrawal to the Secretariat United Nations.

In the past, threats of such action have not been lacking, but so far no state has so clearly demonstrated its willingness to complete the withdrawal. However, following the steps taken by Burundi on 21 October 2016, South Africa expressed the same desire and the day itself became the first country to formally withdraw from the Rome Statute, 11 opening the door to a “Domino effect”. Indeed, this road has already been undertaken by The Gambia, which announced its intention to withdraw on 25 October 2016. Fortunately, it recanted itself in favor of the change of institutions that took place in that country with the overthrow of the President Yahya Jammeh,

 

The South African justice also invalidated the government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, to say that ultimately only Burundi actually withdrew

The purpose of this contribution is to explore the legal consequences of Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC on the current preliminary examination and the possible continuation of the proceedings, by analyzing the relevant provision of the Rome Statute (1). °). It aims to probe the avenues that are opening up in such a situation, including the possibility of continuing the preliminary investigation and the initiation of the investigation itself. This despite the expiration of a period of one year after notification of withdrawal to the Rome Statute. It will finally question the future of the international justice system based on the ICC, once the ICC does not use its prerogatives to prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015

  1. The possibility for Burundi to withdraw to the Rome Statute

The Rome Statute expressly provides for the possibility of a State withdrawing from the treaty and specifying its terms and limitations. According to what Art. 127 (1), “Any State Party may, by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute”.

Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court responds to a wish of the African Union because it deems it biased. But the withdrawal can not be formulated by the set of States, because the accession was made individually and the withdrawal is done individually

Art. 127 (1) goes on to say that “the withdrawal takes effect one year after the date on which the notice was received, unless the notice provides for a later date”. Thus, only from the receipt of the withdrawal instrument the period of one year begins to run. The withdrawal will not be effective for Burundi until 27 October 2017. Until the expiry of the deadline, Burundi remains a State party  with all the obligations arising therefrom..

The South African court also invalidated the government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which means that only Burundi has effectively withdrawn.

  1. The consequences of the Withdrawal from Burundi to the Rome Statute

According to Art. 127 (2), the withdrawal “shall not relieve the State of its obligations under the … Statute while it was a Party, including financial obligations incurred, and shall not affect cooperation established with the Court in criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect; the withdrawal shall not affect the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect “.

From this provision we can see many consequences, in particular the obligations incurred by him when he was a party to it, including the financial obligations incurred (1), the obligation to cooperate with the Court in investigations and criminal proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect (2) and the obligation not to affect in any way the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect (3)

For the moment allow us to analyze the last two obligations as these are both apparently relevant to the case in this case

The obligation of cooperation with the Court in criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect

It can be emphasized here that Art. 127 (2) of the Statute thus provides that the withdrawal does not affect the State’s co-operation obligations arising from criminal investigations and proceedings initiated before the one-year period has expired.

It is clear that the preliminary examination already begun on Burundi is part of the investigation to which Burundi has an obligation to cooperate with the court from beginning to end.

From this obligation to cooperate one can deduce the possibility of continuing the investigation in spite of the delay of one after the notification

Extension of the preliminary examination

This would seem to be the only way that the ICC would undoubtedly continue to exercise its jurisdiction once the withdrawal is executed.  This means that if the preliminary investigation was initiated before the expiry of one year after notification of the withdrawal, Burundi should cooperate from the preliminary phase until the closure of the case, to the judgment of either the conviction or acquittal of the alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law.

The obligation not to affect in any way the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect

The second paragraph of Art. 127 provides that “the withdrawal shall not affect the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court has already begun to consider” before the withdrawal is effective. The doctrine seems to agree on one point: what the editors of the Statute wished to express with this sentence remains vague.  The preparatory work does not seem to help in this sense.

First, although doubts were expressed,  it might fairly easily be considered that when Art. 127 (2) refers to the “Court”, the Office of the Prosecutor would be understood, in particular because of the use of the term “Court” throughout the Rome Statute. It could also be said that a preliminary examination is indeed an examination of a “matter”. Although the English version of the provision uses the term “matters” to create some confusion, the term “case” is used in many provisions of the Statute to indicate either a specific case.

Thus, in principle, there would be no objection to the possibility that this sentence might legitimize the continuation of the preliminary examination of the situation in Burundi which had begun before the withdrawal of the Statute became effective. Such a result would flow from the “ordinary meaning to be attributed to the terms of the treaty” and would be most consistent with its object and purpose.

However, this could be nothing but a simple academic exercise. Indeed, as Whiting correctly noted, as soon as the one-year period expires without an “investigation or criminal proceeding” within the meaning of the second paragraph, Burundi would no longer have the “duty to cooperation “under Chapter IX

Would the result change if an application for authorization to initiate an investigation by the Prosecutor acting proprio motu, submitted before the withdrawal took effect, namely on 27 October 2017, would be pending before the Pre-Trial Chamber?

An unambiguous answer can not be given. It can certainly be maintained that under the last sentence of Art. 127 (2), the withdrawal may not affect the further consideration by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the application for leave to commence an investigation. But if a positive decision of the Chamber does not intervene before the withdrawal of Burundi is effective, the fate of the investigation remains uncertain. According to Kolb, “a State which has freed itself from its treaty obligations can no longer be obliged to cooperate in an investigation or proceedings initiated after the date on which its withdrawal took effect”

  1. General international law: a means of supporting the court to open the investigation despite the end of one year after notification of the withdrawal of Burundi to the Rome Statute

In support of the second paragraph of Art. 127, one might be tempted to resort to general international law,  including relevant customary law, as codified by the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (hereinafter CVDT)

Art. 70 of the CVDT provides that “Unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree, the fact that a treaty has terminated under its provisions or in accordance with this Convention: (b) does not affect any right, obligation or legal position of the parties created by the execution of the treaty before it has ended ”

According to Clark, under this general rule, the ICC would in no way lose jurisdiction over crimes committed before the withdrawal was effective regardless of whether an investigation had been opened.This argument would be based on the fact that the mere commission of a crime falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC creates “a legal situation of the parties” to which withdrawal can not be infringed.In this way, Clark seems to suggest that the withdrawal ” would have no impact on the ICC’s competence with respect to crimes ex Art. 5 of the Statute allegedly committed on Burundian territory or by Burundians before the one-year time limit expired on 27 October.

Sanctions that may be opened up against other states parties, especially the African Union in the event of non-cooperation Article 86 of the Rome Statute states that “In accordance with the provisions of the present Statute, States Parties shall cooperate fully with the Court in its investigations and prosecutions of crimes within its jurisdiction. “The article states that states parties to the Rome Statute are under an obligation to cooperate fully with the court in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes under its jurisdiction. As a result, countries that would act against this provision would be subject to sanctions, as was the case in countries such as Chad and Malawi, which were sanctioned by the Court for breaching their legal obligation to arrest and surrender El BECHIR to the Court

  1. Towards the collapse of the international justice system

The case of Burundi could set a potentially very dangerous precedent for the international justice system based on the Rome Statute. Beyond the question of the mass withdrawal of African States from the Statute, which is a very questionable question outside the scope of this note, the Burundian case might suggest to other States that face (or will face) a preliminary consideration that it would be sufficient to withdraw immediately from the Rome Statute so that the initiation of an investigation could be effectively avoided. Indeed, as stated above, the Prosecutor may initiate an investigation before the withdrawal takes effect

It should be recalled that, in order for the Prosecutor to initiate an investigation on his or her own initiative, once it has concluded that there is a reasonable basis for proceeding, it is required to “submit to the Pre-Trial Chamber an application for leave to do so  “. As stated above, this request will probably not be sufficient for the Court to retain its jurisdiction: a positive decision authorizing the initiation of the investigation would seem necessary.

But the Prosecutor would not need such permission from the Pre-Trial Chamber if other actors of the international community, such as other States parties to the Rome Statute or the UN Security Council, responsibility for the fight against impunity in recalcitrant countries.

Although until then the States parties to the Statute have only referred cases directly affecting them, under Art. 14 of the Statute, a State Party may properly refer to the Prosecutor a situation such as that prevailing in Burundi. Once determined that there would be a reasonable basis for initiating an investigation, the Prosecutor could proceed without the need for prior judicial review by the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Alternatively, responsibility could be assumed by the United Nations Security Council. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council may also refer a situation to the ICC and no authorization would be required for the initiation of an investigation. Today, this approach has been initiated only for the situation in Darfur (Sudan) in 2005 and for the situation in Libya in 2011.

 

 

Source: Burundi Coalition on the ICC

 

NCICC Blog

Boko Haram: Nigeria, Turkey in partnership to deal with…

President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterpart from Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed partnership in the area of defence and security.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting the meeting, Buhari said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ that the defence ministers of both countries held extensive discussions on developing new strategies for counter-terrorism.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterpart from Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed partnership in the area of defence and security.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting the meeting, Buhari said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ that the defence ministers of both countries held extensive discussions on developing new strategies for counter-terrorism.

A statement sent to DAILY POST by Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu quoted the president as saying the two leaders also discussed the prospects of increasing their bilateral trade, which has exceeded 779 million USD in the first eight months of 2017.

According to Buhari, ‘‘We are very pleased with the progress of the meeting so far and we are going to wait for the details of meetings between the two countries.

‘‘We will as a result of the meeting between the ministers and officials of both countries strengthen rapidly whatever their recommendations are.’’

Commenting on the degradation of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Buhari said the improved security situation in the North East was an eloquent testimony to the efforts of his administration in combating terrorism since he came into office in May 2015

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Kenya: ICC Has Raila-Kalonzo Probe Petition, Will Issue Verdict

Nairobi — The International Criminal Court (ICC) has acknowledged receipt of a petition seeking to have it investigate National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka for incitement.

In a response to the petition filed by a Canadian lawyer David Jacobs, the ICC’s Head of Information and Evidence Unit, Mark Dillon, said ICC will consider the application in accordance with provisions of the Rome Statute.

“This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with provisions of the Rome Statute of the ICC,” Dillon wrote in a letter dated October 17.

“Please note this acknowledgement letter does not mean an investigation has been opened, nor that an investigation will be opened by the Office of the Prosecutor,” Dillon added while noting that the petitioner will be informed in writing, with reasons provided on why a decision to commence investigations against the two NASA leaders would have been reached, or otherwise.

In the petition, lawyer Jacobs acting for International Policy Group (IPG) argued that Odinga and Kalonzo intended to commit crimes against humanity while citing incidences in which they are said to have made utterances meant to radicalize NASA supporters.

“We have strong grounds to assert that Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and their cohorts in NASA are planning to plunge Kenya into violence in pursuit of political power,” the petition backed by the IPG’s Chairperson Kenneth Orengo and the Secretary Martin Nkari reads.

According to IPG, the global networks the two NASA leaders have coupled with their clout as former senior government officials could make it difficult for any cases to be instituted, with their supporters likely to turn violent.

The petitioner cited a particular incident in which Odinga and Kalonzo are accused of having incited indigenous Kajiado residents against non-Maasai’s living in their midst on claims that they had invaded ancestral land belonging to the Maasai community.

“There is reasonable basis to believe that Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, as principal conspirators and part of a criminal organization and enterprise referred to as NASA, have intended to incite and instigate the crimes of murder, torture, persecution, forceful evictions, rape and damage to public and private property of innocent Kenyan citizens and residents who do not belong to the Maasai tribe in Kajiado County,” the petitioner states.

NASA lawyers led by Siaya Senator James Orengo have however stated since the filing of the application became known to the public that they were ready to face any court of law to defend Odinga.

This even as Odinga’s Spokesperson Dennis Onyango announced a suspension of daily demonstrations against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission while blaming security agencies for perpetrating injustices against its supporters.

“This is a temporary step to enable the coalition to attend to the supporters who were brutalized and hurt and families that lost loved ones today after police and State-protected goons descended on protesters and NASA leaders,” Onyango said in a statement.

“NASA condemns the unfolding policy of ethnic profiling and use of brutal and lethal force being meted out on protesters,” he added while appealing to human rights groups to “take a keen interest in the atrocities” being committed against its supporters across the country.

NCICC Blog

Nigeria to De-radicalize Convicted Boko Haram Terrorists Through Expert…

Nigeria is taking steps to de-radicalize convicted Boko Haram terrorists through the development of a range of expert psychologists and counselors to pioneer rehabilitation efforts.

Deputy Ambassador to the UN Samson Itegboje, disclosed this while presenting Nigeria’s statement to the UN Security Council on the recent visit of the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and other top women officials of the UN to Nigeria.

Itegboje said Nigeria is also utilizing Islamic scholars to counter extremist narratives by training them on aspects of dialogues and religious counseling.

He also said government is working with the affected communities to design economic revitalization programnmes targeted at people most affected by terrorism and violent extremism.

The Nigerian envoy seized the opportunity to assure the Security Council that following the recent release of 82 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, the Federal Government has intensified efforts at securing the release of the remaining girls.

He added that government was also not leaving any stone unturned in securing the release of any other abducted girls and women, including freeing them from the ideological grips of Boko Haram terrorists.

Source: Dankura News

http://www.dandalkura.com/news/nigeria-de-radicalize-convicted-boko-haram-terrorists-expert-psychologists-counselors/

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Somalia truck bomb death toll rises to 276

 

Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Monday, after a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu killed at least 276 people and left 300 injured in the deadliest ever attack to hit the conflict-torn nation.

Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by Islamist militants, have been left stunned by the monster explosion Saturday which gutted surrounding buildings and left victims burned beyond recognition.

A statement from the information ministry on Monday said “276 people were killed in the blast… and 300 wounded were admitted at the different hospitals in Mogadishu.”

The government said it had set up an emergency committee to help relatives find the missing, with a crisis centre in the capital that residents can turn to.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that many of the victims were “burned beyond recognition” in what he described as “the deadliest attack ever.”

Turkey sent a military plane full of medical supplies to Mogadishu on Monday, also evacuating some of the injured for treatment.

The blast occurred at a junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest. Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) of explosives.

Abdulahi Nuradin was one of many helping friends and family hunting for news of the missing.

“It has been more than 24 hours now and we don’t have any traces or information about the sister of my friend. We can assume she is dead, with her flesh somewhere amongst the horribly burned dead bodies,” he told AFP.

“We went to several hospitals to seek any information but no to avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals, you cannot even look at them,” he added.

– ‘Devastation beyond imagination’ –

Local government official Muhidin Ali said more than 100 bodies who were impossible to identify had already been buried.

“The gruesome dead bodies were displayed at the hospitals for relatives but a few were recognised and most of them not at all, the devastation is something beyond the imagination of humankind,” he said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.

The previous deadliest assault took place in October 2011, when a truck bomb targeting a government office left 82 dead and 150 injured.

Saturday’s blast, the worst in Somalia’s history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union and Somali troops.

While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.

According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia.

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Victims to lose out as Burundi set to leave…

On 27 October 2017, Burundi will become the first country to withdraw from the Rome Statute (RS) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The state’s imminent withdrawal from the ICC raises questions for the ICC’s existing preliminary examination (PE) of the situation in the country since April 2016.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) PE in Burundi—considered to be at the subject-matter determination phase (Phase 2) at the time of the OTP’s last PE report (14 November 2016)—has been looking into alleged RS crimes including killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence committed in the country since April 2015.

“In one week, the decision to withdraw Burundi from the Rome Statute will come into effect. This comes at a time when the machine continues to kill with impunity in Burundi. Today, Burundian justice, as it is so-called, has lost contact with life. It has become a mere tool of repression of any dissenting voice the powerful and the party in power CNDD FDD,” said the Burundi Coalition for the ICC.

 

SOURCE; Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Press Releases

NCICC CONDEMNS THE SECRET TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS…

 

Press release:  17th  October 2017

 

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) expresses deep concern at the ongoing mass trial of the Boko Haram suspects.

Over 1600 Boko Haram suspects are being detained in Niger state and SECRET trial is going on.

We commend the Attorney General of the Federation for taking the initiative to ensure that justice is served to the many victims of gross human rights abuses and severe crimes alleged to have been committed by the Boko Haram sect.

However, it is pertinent that due process is followed in the course of administering justice. Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for fair trial for all Nigerian citizens.  Public hearing is a yardstick for free and fair trial which forms a fundamental principle of Natural justice so it is quite disturbing that the trial of the Boko Haram suspect is being done privately.

NCICC maintains that accelerated/secret hearing in criminal matters of this nature is not advisable as it may present a glitch in the administration of justice. Suspects must be afforded the opportunity to be represented by a legal practitioner of their choice and lawyers must be given reasonable time to prepare their defense. It is important that all the antecedents of criminal trials be upheld as they are mere suspects and have to be proven guilty or otherwise.

NCICC call on Judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers to get involved in the prosecution of the suspects.  Lawyers should be given adequate time and facilities to prepare for and ensure fair trial of the suspects.

NCICC Calls on the Attorney General of the  Federation to ensure open trials and adequate protection of witnesses, we urge the judiciary to designate more judges and assign these cases to them. There is no way four judges can do justice to 1600 cases. It will take them a decade to do so.

Finally we appeal to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to provide more pro bono defence counsel because the Legal Aid Council is so thinly staffed and poorly funded to be able to give quality legal defence to 1600 defendants.

Chino Obiagwu

Chair, Steering Committee