…ICC Accuses Boko Haram Of Crimes Against Humanity

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The
Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has
accused Boko Haram of engaging in crimes against humanity.
The ICC, in its report of preliminary
examination activities dated November 2012, a copy of which THISDAY obtained at
the weekend, said its investigations had shown that the Islamic sect was
involved in murder and persecution.
The report also said the alleged
crimes committed by Niger Delta militants and the activities of security
agencies during the militancy era in the oil-rich region did not amount to war
crimes.

“The office has determined that there
is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been
committed in Nigeria, namely acts of murder and persecution attributed to Boko
Haram.

“Therefore, the prosecutor has decided
that the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria should advance to
phase 3 (admissibility) with a view to assessing whether the national
authorities are conducting genuine proceedings in relation to those who appear
to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, and the gravity of such
crimes,” the report said.
According to it, from November 10, 2005
to September 2012, OTP received 59 articles and 15 communications in relation
to killings and violence in Nigeria.
Of this number, 26 were found to be
manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the court, five were found to warrant
analysis, while 28 were included in the preliminary examination carried out by
the OTP.
While the report said Boko Haram had
committed crimes against humanity, it however said that allegations that
security agencies like the Joint Task Force (JTF) committed crimes against
humanity were unsubstantiated.
The report further noted that even
though there were allegations of serious human rights violations against the
security agencies, information available at the stage of the investigation did
not permit a conclusion that such violations were committed in furtherance of
state’s policy.
The report states: “The office
considers that there is a reasonable basis that since July 2009, Boko Haram has
committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity: Murder under
article 7(1)(a) and (ii) persecution under article 7(1)(h) of the Statute. In
particular, the information available provides a reasonable basis to believe
that since July 2009, Boko Haram has launched a widespread and systematic
attack that has resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 Christians and
Muslims civilians in different locations throughout Nigeria, including Borno,
Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna and Plateau States as well
as Abuja.
“The consistent pattern of such
incidents indicates that the group possesses the means to carry out widespread
and/or systematic attacks, and displays internal coordination and
organisational control required to that end.
“The attacks have been committed pursuant to the policy defined at the
leadership level of Boko Haram, which aims at imposing an exclusive Islamic
system of government on northern Nigeria at the expense of Christians
specifically.
“Opponents to this goal have been
targeted as well. Boko Haram leaders or spokesmen have issued public statements
evincing the intention to attack civilians in furtherance of this policy,
including a January 2012 ultimatum urging Christians to leave Northern Nigeria.
“The targeting of an identifiable
group or collectively on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural,
religious, gender or other grounds is a constitutive element of the crime of
persecution under article 7(1).”
On the allegation that security agencies committed grave human rights
violations, the report found as follow: “Although allegations against Nigerian
security forces in the context of their operations against Boko Haram may
reflect serious human rights violations, the information available at this
stage does not permit a finding of a reasonable basis to believe that such acts
were committed pursuant to or in furtherance of a state or organisational
policy to attack the civilian population.
“There is also currently no reasonable basis to believe that the confrontations
between the security forces and Boko Haram amount to an armed conflict. Again,
these initial assessments may be revisited in the light of new facts or
evidence.”
The report, which also examined the situation in the Niger Delta, indicated
that no crimes against humanity were committed there.
“Based on the available information,
there does not now appear to be a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged
crimes committed in the Delta region could constitute war crimes. In
particular, the violence in the Niger Delta, including the armed confrontation
between MEND militants and the Nigerian Joint Task Force in 2009, does not
appear to involve protracted armed violence between governmental authorities
and organised armed groups or between such groups, as stipulated in article
8(20(f).
“This initial assessment may be revisited in light of new facts or evidence,”
it stated.
Under the Rome Statute, which
established the ICC, the Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for
determining whether a situation meets the legal criteria established by the
statute to warrant investigation by the court.
To do this, the office will conduct a
preliminary examination of all situations that come to its attention based on
the statutory criteria and the information available.

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