Amnesty International rebukes Nigerian military for dropping war crimes inquiry

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A man cycles past a military truck in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde
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ABUJA (Reuters) – Amnesty International criticised Nigeria’s military on Thursday for dropping an investigation into senior officers accused of war crimes in the northeast during the conflict with Islamist Boko Haram insurgents.

The eight-year battle with the militant group, which seeks to carve out a “caliphate” in the northeast, has been rife with human rights violations by the parties involved, including the military, Boko Haram and vigilante organisations, aid groups say. Those include extrajudicial killings, rape, the use of child soldiers and detentions of people without charge.

Late on Wednesday, Nigeria’s military issued a report on the findings of its investigation that said there was insufficient evidence to charge the officers, some of whom are now retired, for any abuses.

The military murdered, starved, suffocated and tortured 8,000 people under the watch of certain senior officers, Amnesty International said in its 2015 report alleging the war crimes.

“We stand by the findings of our research and our call for an investigation that is independent, impartial and thorough; criteria that this panel clearly does not meet,” Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said on Thursday.

The military panel did find that delays of trials of suspected Boko Haram members that resulted in death and denial of legal representation were unacceptable.

Both the panel and Amnesty International recommended that Nigeria set up a presidential commission to investigate any accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Paul Carsten; editing by Mark Heinrich)


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