Amnesty International Seeks Justice for Boko Haram Suspects

As the mass trial of Boko Haram suspects on terrorism-related charges continues in Nigeria, Amnesty International has argued that it will be impossible for the suspects to get justice without fair trials.

According to a statement issued yesterday by Amnesty International Nigeria’s Media Manager, Isa Sanusi, the rights group said it had repeatedly documented how thousands of people were rounded up in arbitrary arrests with no evidence and held for years in detention.

Speaking on the trials of the Boko Haram suspects, Amnesty International Nigeria’s Director Osai Ojigho, said: “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members.”


“However, the fact the trials are taking place behind closed doors, with no access for the media or the public, raises huge concerns. Public hearings are crucial for protecting an individual’s right to a fair trial and due process,” Ojigho added.

“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that all fair trial rights are respected. Defendants must have access to lawyers and interpreters if required, and that witnesses and victims are protected from potential reprisals,” Ojigho said.

Amnesty International said it had repeatedly documented how thousands of people have been rounded up in mass arbitrary arrests with little or no evidence and held in detention for years.

“In instances where no prima facie case has been established, as is reportedly the situation in some of the cases, detainees should be immediately released,” the statement said.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), had announced that the prosecution of 2,321 suspected members of Boko Haram would begin on October 9.
A statement issued by Mr. Salihu Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the minister said the suspects were being detained in various detention facilities across the country.

While there are 1,670 detainees held at a detention facility in Kainji another 651 detainees are in detention in Maiduguri.

Isah also said that 220 detainees have been recommended for release and will participate in the deradicalisation programme for want of evidence.

In order to fast-track the prosecution of the cases, he said the justice minister had approved a list of prosecutors to handle the cases, adding that the Legal Aid Council had equally agreed to provide counsel to represent accused persons that cannot afford lawyers.

He said four judges had been designated by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to hear the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously.

According to him, 13 cases had been concluded, with nine convictions secured while 33 cases were on trial at various Federal High Court divisions.

Another 116 cases have been filed but the suspects were yet to be arraigned.

He said the trial of those detained in Kainji would start first to be followed by those detained in Maiduguri.

Source: ThisDay live :


Ensure Ghana Abides By Its International Law Obligations –…

Mr. William Nyarko (right) speaks to the diplomats at the session chaired by Mr. Roland Chauville (left), executive director of UPRInfo, Geneva

Mr. William Nyarko (right) speaks to the diplomats at the session chaired by Mr. Roland Chauville (left), executive director of UPR Info, Geneva

Research and education think tank Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) has urged diplomats at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to make recommendations to Ghana to ratify and domesticate international instruments to which it is a signatory when Ghana appears before the United Nations Human Rights Council next month for a review of its human rights record.

ACILA executive director, Mr. William Nyarko, who made the call to the diplomats during a presentation to the UN Permanent Missions on Tuesday, noted that even though Ghana had made commendable progress in implementing some of the recommendations that the diplomats had made in 2012, a lot remains to be done by Ghana to ensure compliance with its obligations under international law.

Mr. Nyarko’s call to the diplomats comes barely one month before diplomats on the United Nations Human Rights Council will review Ghana’s human rights record in Geneva on November 7, 2017 under the UN Universal Periodic Review mechanism. Under the UPR, the human rights record of all the 193 Member States of the UN is reviewed every five years.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Prior to Ghana’s impending appearance at the Human Rights Council on November 2017, UPR Info, a Geneva-based NGO that aims to promote and strengthen the Universal Periodic Review process organized a pre-session for NGOs working in human rights in Ghana to make presentations to the diplomats and share the human rights situation on the ground with them. Ghana’s human rights record was reviewed by the Human Rights Council in 2012.

Continuing, Mr. Nyarko explained that at the 2012 UPR cycle, Hungary and Tunisia made a recommendation to Ghana, which Ghana accepted, to domesticate the Rome Statute, which Ghana had ratified as far back as 1999.

In April 2016, Ghana drafted the International Criminal Court Bill but the bill has since not been laid before Parliament for deliberation, passage, and signing into law. This state of affairs is attributable to lack of political will and lack of public demand for responsiveness and accountability from the state, he noted.

He urged the diplomats to recommend to Ghana to pass and sign the International Criminal Court Bill into law before the end of 2018 in order to establish a legal framework to enable Ghanaian courts to try offenses committed under the Rome Statute as well as enable the ICC to prosecute cases in Ghana where Ghanaian courts are unable to do so.

Touching on the signing and ratification of instruments, Mr. Nyarko recalled that at the 2012 UPR, about 20 recommendations were made to Ghana to, among other things, “ratify before the end of the third UPR cycle those conventions to which Ghana is a signatory (Hungary)”; ratify OP-CAT (Luxembourg, Australia, Tunisia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain);“ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Australia, Spain, Rwanda, Switzerland, France, Uruguay, Norway).

He said while Ghana had made some progress by ratifying one of the core human rights instruments, that is, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OP-CAT) on September 23, 2016, majority of the instruments have still not been ratified or remain unsigned.

In the case of signing and ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition

of the death penalty (ICCPR-OP2), he observed that, Ghana, an abolitionist in practice, constituted a Constitutional Review Commission, which recommended in 2012 for the replacement of the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole.

According to Mr. Nyarko, this recommendation was to be put to a national referendum because the death penalty is an entrenched provision in the Constitution; however, the referendum has not been held.

He encouraged the diplomats to recommend to Ghana to ratify the international instruments to which Ghana is a signatory by December 2018 and put the recommendations of the CRC to a referendum by January 2020 to inform Ghana’s decision whether to sign and ratify ICCPR-OP2.

“In the meantime, Ghana should continue to commute death sentences to life imprisonment”, he added.

Source: Modern Ghana News


Cameroon probes deadly unrest in restive anglophone region

Cameroonian authorities  have denied that security forces opened fire on protesters.  By STR (AFP/File)

Cameroonian authorities have denied that security forces opened fire on protesters. By STR (AFP/File)

Yaoundé – Cameroon has launched a probe into recent deadly violence linked to a symbolic declaration of independence in the west African nation’s English-speaking region, the defence minister said Friday.

“Apart from the material damage, precise enquiries have been opened by judicial authorities on the toll,” Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said on state radio.

According to an AFP tally, 14 people died in violence in the run-up to the symbolic October 1 declaration of independence of Ambazonia, the name of the state the separatists want to create.

However Amnesty International has given a toll of 17.

Cameroonian authorities have said that security forces did not open fire during the demonstrations.

Assomo had on Thursday visited Buea, the main city in the English-speaking southwest region, where he headed a meeting to review security.

Cameroon’s anglophone-francophone rift dates back to 1961 when the British-administered Southern Cameroons united with Cameroon after its independence from France in 1960.

The English speakers complain they have suffered decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

Anglophones account for about a fifth of the 22 million population.

Source : Ghana News


ICC Prosecutor renews call to arrest Libya commander

Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli is suspected of involvement in the deaths of 33 people in the war-torn city of Benghazi.  By - (ICC-CPI/AFP/File)

Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli is suspected of involvement in the deaths of 33 people in the war-torn city of Benghazi. By – (ICC-CPI/AFP/File)

 The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has renewed her call for the immediate arrest of a senior Libyan commander wanted for war crimes, amid allegations he has killed more people.

Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli “stands accused of serious crimes. I therefore call again on Libya to take all possible steps to immediately arrest and surrender him to the ICC,” prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

Werfalli, born in 1978, is a senior commander in the Al-Saiqa brigade, an elite unit which defected from the Libyan National Army after the uprising against longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The brigade has been battling alongside forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, which was recently liberated after a three-year campaign.

In August, ICC judges issued a warrant for his arrest, alleging he was behind a series of murders and bloody executions of 33 people in the city.

He is accused of being involved in at least seven incidents in 2016 and 2017, during which he allegedly personally shot or ordered the execution of people who were either civilians or injured fighters.

At the time, Libyan national army said Werfalli had been arrested and was under investigation by military authorities.

But Bensouda said she had received “reports alleging conversely that the suspect is at large and may have been involved in additional killings since the ICC warrant of arrest was issued.”

Her office was investigating, but Bensouda added she was “gravely concerned about these new allegations, and generally about further violent loss of life in Libya.”

The ICC remains in a legal tug-of-war with Libyan authorities to transfer Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam to The Hague, with the two sides disputing who has the right to judge him.

“Bringing safety, security and stability to Libya is a must,” Bensouda said, adding that “so is fighting impunity in Libya” for the grave crimes committed in the country.

Source: Modern Ghana News


International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

26th September marked the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which, according to the United Nations, ‘provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority’. Global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the UN and was the subject of one of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. Today, more than 15,000 nuclear weapons remain, however the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was adopted on 7 July 2017 marks an important step and contribution towards the common goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To read more about the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, click here.



The United Nations General Assembly held last week at the UN headquarters in Newyork   themed ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.’ saw a host of world leaders addressing the assembly on global issues including agenda 2030 and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on the 19th of September 2017, Nigeria’s president Muhamadu Buhari  touched on one of the world’s most pressing human rights issues: the brutal violence against Rohingya muslims in myanmar.  He said;

The international community cannot remain silent and not condemn the horrendous suffering caused by what, from all indications is a state-backed programme of brutal depopulation of the Rohingya inhabited areas in Myanmar on the bases of ethnicity and religion. We fully endorse the call by the Secretary-General on the Government of Myanmar to order a halt to the ongoing ethnic cleansing and ensure the safe return of the displaced Rohingya to their homes in safety and dignity.

While his comments will depict that of a true global spectator and also appeal to the victims of Rhohingya,  the Nigerian community will be left wondering why he doesn’t practice similar sentiments in his own country.  Recall back  in December 2015, months after Buhari took office, a skirmish between Nigeria’s military and the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a Shiite Muslim group in Nigeria’s north saw “more than 350 people,” including women and children, unlawfully killed according to Amnesty International report.

Amnesty reported that the military tried to “destroy and conceal evidence” of the killings. Nearly two years after the alleged massacre of the Shiite Muslims and despite a court order for his release, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Shiite group, is still being detained by the government.

In his speech he also called for peaceful resolution  of conflicts so that they wont be a repeat of the war situations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He said;

All necessary pressure and diplomatic efforts must be brought to bear on North Korea to accept peaceful resolution of the crisis. As Hiroshima and Nagasaki painfully remind us, if we fail, the catastrophic and devastating human loss and environmental degradation cannot be imagined.

This is quite surprising because only recently Mr president faced gross criticism for his handling of secessionist agitations from the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group in Nigeria’s southeast. Soldiers were deployed to the region to maintain peace but many have viewed it as a needless and brute show of force which worsened an already bad situation. The secessionist agitation is rooted in decades-long belief in the southeast that the region has been marginalized by Nigeria’s federal government and as such are seeking a referendum . Four people reportedly died in clashes between the soldiers and the IPOB members.

Lastly and more interestingly, the president made mention of the urgency for member states to ratify the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. It is no news that the Nigeria government is pen friendly in signing treaties but completely reluctant in domesticating them knowing fully well that section 12 of the 1999 constitution makes inactionable all treaties and statutes that have not been domesticated into our local laws.

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court therefore calls on the President and lawmakers to also see to the domestication of the Rome statute too so our country can be able to punish war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

They are  over two million displaced persons in Nigeria’s northeast due to the long-running Boko Haram insurgency. these  displaced persons in the northeast have been forced to live in congested camps where hunger and disease are rife. Nearly half a million childrenin the region are severely malnourished, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. Most of the internally displaced people’s camps are underfunded by the government and officials have been accused of diverting and selling donated relief materials at local markets for personal gain.



On the 13th of July 2013, the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC)  applied for an arrest warrant  in the Federal  High Court in and effort to compel the government  to arrest Sudan’s president Omar  Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC issued an arrest warrant in 2009 for Mr Bashir alongside three others, for charges of genocide in Darfur region of Sudan. An estimated 300,000 have died and some 2.7 million others displaced since the conflict broke out in 2003. Sadly, Omar Bashir who was in Nigeria attending an AU summit conference on health fled the country 24hours after his arrival  amidst protest for his arrest.

The NCICC chairman, steering committee Mr Chino Obiagwu frowned at Nigeria’s failure to arrest the Sudanese president stating that “Nigeria was in breach of its international obligations by failing to arrest him, and was fueling a culture of impunity. He added that Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, and as such, has international legal obligations to ensure that this country does not become a safe haven for alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law like Al-Bashir. He warned that:

Failure of Nigeria to do so was a brazen disregard of its international treaty obligation under Article 89 of the Rome Statute of the ICC which it has ratified since 2001. It amounted to grave diplomatic blunder for the Jonathan administration to invite and give full ceremonial reception to a war crime indictee in disregard of millions of victims of Darfur atrocities and their families, some of them Nigerian citizens who are still crying for justice.

NCICC noted that such failure also undermines the pursuit of international justice, peace and security which are the objectives of the ICC.

Nigeria signed the Rome statute on the 1st of June 2000 and ratified it on September 2011  making it the 39th state party to the Rome statute.


The National Coordinator of the NCICC Mr Chino Obiagwu…

Mr Chino Obiagwu   he called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African states in the ICC system
Mr Chino Obiagwu an insightful human rights activist and the National coordinator of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court took the floor on the 2nd day of the 15th session of the  Assembly of State Parties. He called on states to explore all legislative, diplomatic and legal avenues to robustly respond to concerns of African States in the ICC systems.