Global rights group, Amnesty International, has hailed the International Criminal Court for deciding to probe the Nigerian Armed Forces for war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram.
This is contained in a statement titled, ‘ICC: Milestone decision paves the way for full investigation into atrocities in Nigeria’ on Friday.
The statement read in part, “The ICC must immediately open a full investigation into atrocities committed during the conflict in North-East Nigeria, Amnesty International said today, as a milestone decision brought its longstanding call for justice for victims one step closer.”
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a statement that her office had completed a preliminary examination and found a “reasonable basis to believe” that Boko Haram and its splinter groups had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, through murder, rape, sexual slavery, and torture. Judges must approve the request.
The prosecutor of the ICC on Friday said she would seek a full investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during Nigeria’s conflict with the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Reacting, Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Advocacy, said,“After years of calling on the ICC Prosecutor to open a full investigation, this is the first meaningful step towards justice that we have seen for victims of atrocious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in North-East Nigeria.
“This is an important milestone, but it must be followed with immediate action to open a full investigation. For the victims of war crimes and potential crimes against humanity to see justice, it’s crucial that the prosecutor swiftly begin an effective and well-resourced investigation.”
The ICC’s preliminary examination, which started in 2010, concludes that both Boko Haram and the Nigerian military have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, and that the Nigerian government has failed in its obligations to hold those responsible to account, echoing the findings of numerous Amnesty International reports over the years.
“Victims have already waited a decade for justice. The Office of the Prosecutor must now move swiftly to seek the judicial authority needed to initiate the full investigation; further delays will only serve to frustrate victims and run the risk of evidence and witness testimony being lost forever,” said Belay.