One thousand days after the chilling abduction of 276 school girls in Chibok, Amnesty International is asking the Nigerian government to redouble efforts to ensure the release of the girls and all other victims of mass abduction.
The organisation is also calling on Boko Haram to put an end to the girls’ suffering and immediately release them and all other civilians they are currently holding.
The demand is coming few days after one of the abducted Chibok girls taken from their school’s dormitory on April 14, 2014 was recovered by the military with her six-month-old baby.
Her return followed the release of 21 girls by Boko Haram in October, a development that the Nigerian government said was the outcome of negotiations with the insurgents.
41 Other Cases Of Mass Abductions
The demand of the rights group was contained in a statement it issued on Saturday by the Acting Country Director for Amnesty International Nigeria, Makmid Kamara. The group drew the government’s attention to the fact that the girls have remained in captivity for 1,000 days.
It read: “This terrible anniversary is a chilling reminder not just of the tragic disappearance of the Chibok school girls, but also all other individuals – many of whom are also children – who remain captive in Boko Haram’s hideouts across the country. These abductions and other attacks on civilians, many of which constitute war crimes, must stop.
“While the Nigerian government is making considerable efforts to recover the 195 Chibok girls still in Boko Haram’s custody, we are concerned that victims of less well publicised mass abductions have not benefited from comparable efforts to secure their release”.
The group claimed to have documented at least 41 other cases of mass abductions by Boko Haram since 2014.
“Many of the attacks committed by the group, including deliberate killing of civilians, rape, destruction of homes, bombing of places of worship, markets and other civilian structures, constitute war crimes and those responsible should be brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty,” Amnesty International demanded.
The rights group further said it recognised the resilience and determination of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigners in Nigeria in getting the plight of the Chibok girls on the world’s agenda and for keeping up the pressure on the government by continuing to demand the release of all the girls.
“Their persistence is notable at a time when the civic space for peaceful protests and gatherings in Nigeria is rapidly shrinking.
“The people of Nigeria, and indeed the world, are remembering the 1000th day after the Chibok abduction primarily because of the relentless work of Bring Back Our Girls.
“We hope that the energy of this formidable campaign will be replicated in demands for justice and accountability for crimes committed by all parties to the current conflict in north eastern Nigeria,” Kamara said.
“The Nigerian government should also dramatically step up its efforts to ensure the safe release of abductees and provide proper psychological and medical support to those who have already been rescued, released or have escaped captivity.”
Crimes Against Humanity
For over seven years, Boko Haram has been carrying out a violent campaign against civilians in north eastern Nigeria through acts of almost daily killings, bombings, abductions and looting. Towns and villages have been pillaged.
Schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings have been attacked and destroyed. Boko Haram is brutally mistreating civilians trapped in areas under its control and has disrupted the provision of health, education and other public services in the seven years of its push for an Islamic state and an end to Western education in the northeast region of Nigeria.
Amnesty International says its research shows that Boko Haram has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity with impunity.
After the girls were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Amnesty International said abductions were consistent parts of Boko Haram’s attacks.
The group had on 14 April 2015 released a comprehensive report which documented 38 cases of abduction by Boko Haram.
Since April 2015, thousands of women, men and children who were abducted by Boko Haram have escaped or been rescued.