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Nigeria: High Commissioner for Human Rights updates Council on Human Rights violations and abuses by Boko Haram

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Source: UN Human Rights Council
Country: Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria

Human Rights Council
MORNING
1st July 2015

Human Rights Council Concludes Interactive Dialogue on Côte d’Ivoire

The Human Rights Council this morning heard an oral update from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on human rights violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram, followed by an interactive dialogue. The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights.

High Commissioner Zeid said violations by Boko Haram were extensive and far-reaching, demanding a response of commensurate magnitude. It was encouraging to see governmental control being re-established over key areas of Nigeria, which gave hope that the authorities would address the root causes of this crisis, including poverty, socio-economic deprivation and poor governance. Coupled with massive displacement, destruction and abuses by Boko Haram had had a major impact on the economy of the region, causing severe food shortages, and this was exacerbated by security measures taken by regional authorities, such as restriction of circulation and forced displacement. Such measures had generated understandable ill-feeling among the affected communities, and could ultimately contribute to support for Boko Haram. It was time to give proper consideration to the need for a profound policy response that was grounded in the need for accountability and reconciliation, with measures to promote socio-economic rights and improve governance.

Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria spoke as concerned countries.

In the discussion, speakers condemned in the strongest terms atrocities by Boko Haram, and particularly attacks against civilians and abuses of women and girls. They regretted the negative impact of Boko Haram’s activities on the region’s stability and humanitarian situation, and expressed solidarity with the affected populations. Speakers recalled States’ obligations to respect international human rights and humanitarian law while countering terrorism, called for the investigation of all alleged violations, and underlined the importance of accountability. They encouraged the High Commissioner to continue monitoring human rights abuses by all parties.

Speaking were the European Union, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Sierra Leone, United States, Poland, Spain, Togo, Ecuador, Iran, France, Australia, Mali, Gabon, Germany, Gabon, Canada, Egypt, United Kingdom, Morocco, New Zealand, Algeria, Ireland, Venezuela, China, African Union, Sudan, Switzerland, Burundi, Benin, Libya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Republic of Congo.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Centre for Reproductive Rights, International Movement against All Forms of Racism and Discrimination (in a joint statement with Women’s Consortium of Nigeria), International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Arab Commission for Human Rights, and Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme (in a joint statement with North South XXI) also spoke.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with Mohammed Ayat, the Independent Expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights. The Council started this dialogue on 30 June, and a summary is available here.

In the interactive dialogue, delegations noted with satisfaction the progress made in institution building and welcomed the establishment of the Reconciliation Commission, the National Human Rights Institute, the National Programme for Social Cohesion and the Victim Reparation Fund. All sides in Côte d’Ivoire should intensify their efforts to combat impunity and ensure that perpetrators of crimes against humanity were held accountable regardless of their political, ethnic, tribal or religious affiliation. Security risks in border and forest areas, and the continued sources of instability, remained issues of concern, as well as ongoing human rights violations including torture, arbitrary arrests, and sexual violence.

Speaking were United States, Belgium, Niger, Egypt, Republic of Congo, Algeria, Ghana, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Morocco, Botswana, Chad, United Kingdom, Mozambique, Benin, Gabon, China, France, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Also speaking were International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, International Service for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Watch, and International Child Catholic Bureau (in a joint statement with Mouvement International d’Apostolate des Milieux Sociaux Indépendants, Company of the Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul, Pax Romana and Dominicans for Justice and Peace – Order of Preachers).

In the afternoon meeting, the Council will hear the presentation of reports on technical cooperation and capacity building, and then start its general debate on technical cooperation and capacity building in the field of human rights.

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Côte d’Ivoire

United States expressed continued concern regarding the ongoing challenges faced by Côte d’Ivoire, especially in light of upcoming elections. Only inclusive and ongoing dialogue and the persecution of perpetrators on all sides would bring stability. The United States called for national reconciliation and peaceful elections next year. Belgium commended the major progress achieved by Côte d’Ivoire and welcomed the abolition of the death penalty. Elections would be a test for the future of the country. Belgium called upon the authorities to continue current reforms in human rights. Cooperation with the International Criminal Court was crucial. Niger commended the Independent Expert for his excellent work, and congratulated the authorities for their cooperation with him. Niger praised the Government’s efforts towards the revival of the economy and underscored the progress achieved in reconciliation following the electoral crisis of 2011. Niger welcomed the work of the Reconciliation Commission and the dialogue achieved thus far. Egypt urged the Independent Expert to provide the necessary cooperation to improve human rights and commended the progress achieved in the field of human rights, as well as the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution, the Victims Reparation Fund and the Reconciliation Commission. Egypt congratulated the country for building the capacity of the justice system and the reform of courts as well as the adoption of a number of laws in line with these policies.

Republic of Congo commended the significant breakthrough in the establishment of national human rights institutions in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular the setting up of the Reconciliation Commission, and the legislative reforms to bring those responsible for violations to justice and to combat impunity. Algeria encouraged the Government to continue with the institutional reforms it was undertaking and to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary. Those measures should help to fight impunity for serious violations of human rights. Ghana welcomed the establishment of the Reconciliation Commission, the National Human Rights Institute and the Victims Reparation Fund, which it said would improve the human rights situation in the country, and called for further legislative reforms in order to bring its national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles. Togo noted with satisfaction the progress made in the justice sector and the reforms in the Penal and Civil Codes and called upon Côte d’Ivoire to continue the prosecution of all those responsible for human rights violations in the fight against impunity. Togo called upon the Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert.

Mali commended the establishment of a number of institutions, including the Victims Reparation Fund and the National Social Cohesion Programme and the abolition of the death penalty. It marked the considerable efforts in the judicial arena, particularly the rehabilitation of the courts, and the fight against impunity. Senegal commended the authorities for having quickly picked up the economy and for having established major mechanisms, including the Reconciliation Commission as well as the Victims Reparation Fund and the Social Cohesion Programme. In light of the progress achieved on the ground, Senegal welcomed the extension of the United Nations mandate and said it would help ensure free elections. Morocco welcomed the Independent Expert’s high level of interaction with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire. Acknowledging the complexity of the situation in the region, including the threat of Boko Haram and the Sahelian crisis, Morocco welcomed the renewal of Côte d’Ivoire’s pre-crisis peace-making role in West Africa. It also welcomed the social and economic progress made by the Government. Rwanda commended the country for the establishment of the universal social security coverage and for the abolition of the death penalty. Rwanda continued to share solidarity and support with Côte d’Ivoire and called on the international community to strengthen its support for the country.

Botswana noted with concern security risks in border and forest areas in Côte d’Ivoire and was worried about continued human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary arrests, and sexual violence. Poverty remained a key challenge, and Botswana welcomed the adoption of the national social protection strategy. Chad noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in the respect for human rights, in particular in improving the security situation, even though some risks of instability remained. Chad also welcomed the concerted efforts to achieve disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation, to strengthen the rule of law, and to combat impunity. United Kingdom welcomed the establishment of the national human rights institution and the setting up of the Reconciliation Commission. All sides should intensify their efforts to combat impunity and to ensure that perpetrators of crimes against humanity were held accountable regardless of their political, ethnic or religious affiliation. Mozambique welcomed the efforts of Côte d’Ivoire to address the shortcomings identified in the Independent Expert’s report, its ratification of a number of international human rights instruments, and the efforts towards the abolition of the death penalty.

Benin welcomed the improvement of the security situation and progress in combatting impunity. Benin encouraged the Government to continue efforts, and welcomed the ongoing cooperation with international organizations. It noted with satisfaction the gradual return of the country to its proper role and urged the international community to continue to support the efforts of the country. Gabon welcomed Côte d’Ivoire’s laudable efforts to boost social cohesion and to promote and protect human rights, as well as activities undertaken in the field of security and the judiciary. It regretted that firearms were still held by some ex-combatants and that impunity remained in some areas, making the country fragile. It urged Côte d’Ivoire to continue its efforts. China commended the Government’s efforts in promoting national security, economic development, and the protection of human rights. It recognized the numerous challenges, and called upon the international community to provide constructive assistance after considering fully the needs of the country. Peace, security and stability were the basis for the enjoyment of human rights, and China was ready to join the efforts in contributing to them. France thanked the Independent Expert for his report and welcomed his cooperation with the Government. It encouraged the authorities to pursue free, transparent, fair, and inclusive elections in autumn 2015, and to undertake further efforts in human rights. A clear commitment was vital in order to consolidate progress thus far. Sexual violence had to be persecuted. The National Human Rights Commission was a positive step forward.

Ireland was concerned about delays in addressing the reported serious human rights abuses committed during the post-election crisis in 2010 and the previous 10 years and called upon Côte d’Ivoire to widen the scope of investigations already underway. Addressing questions surrounding impunity and equitable justice were central to national reconciliation. New Zealand noted that 30,000 persons still had to be effectively disarmed and urged Côte d’Ivoire to accelerate effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration activities. University premises were still occupied by former combatants and New Zealand encouraged Côte d’Ivoire to comply with the obligations it accepted in the Oslo Declaration on Safe Schools.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues welcomed the establishment of the Reconciliation Commission and stressed the importance of linking compensation for victims with judicial decisions in order to avoid misappropriation of funds. International Service for Human Rights welcomed the adoption by Côte d’Ivoire of the 2014 law on the promotion and protection of human rights defenders, the first of its kind in Africa, and called upon the Government to adopt a decree for its application to ensure the full enjoyment of the human rights contained in the law.

Human Rights Watch agreed with the Independent Expert’s conclusions that serious human rights violations, including those that occurred during the post-election crisis, should not go unpunished. Victims of these crimes were entitled to impartial and equitable justice. United Nations Watch continued to be concerned about the lack of protection for human rights defenders, of accountability among security forces, and of impartial justice. Members of security forces continued to be involved in widespread violence. Progress was one sided. While 150 pro-Gbagbo civilian and military leaders had been charged for abuses committed during the turmoil, not one member of Ouattara’s forces had been prosecuted. International Child Catholic Bureau, in a joint statement with Mouvement International d’Apostolate des Milieux Sociaux Indépendants, Company of the Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul, Pax Romana et Dominicans for Justice and Peace – Order of Preachers, was concerned about the silence around the issue of children victims during the conflict. There was a lack of ongoing specialized assistance in the form of doctors, lawyers and specialized judges. Although the opening of the hotline had helped, the protection for children victims and victims of sexual violence was needed.

Closing Remarks

Côte d’Ivoire, in concluding remarks, welcomed the quality of this interactive debate and its constructive spirit, and commended the Independent Expert for understanding the situation on the ground. Côte d’Ivoire welcomed the trust that the Human Rights Council placed upon it and reiterated its commitment to do what it promised to do. Côte d’Ivoire called upon the Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert.

MOHAMMED AYAT, Independent Expert on capacity-building and technical cooperation with Côte d’Ivoire in the field of human rights, in concluding remarks, congratulated Côte d’Ivoire for its constructive approach and said that his mission needed the attention and comments of the Council Members to drive the process and make changes happen. Mr. Ayat said that many delegations had taken positive note of the progress made in Côte d’Ivoire and how quickly the changes had happened. It was obvious that people wanted to turn a new leaf, for which the support of the international community was needed. Areas of concern were how to consolidate peace, strengthening the democratic process underway, and how to consolidate human rights achievements. In terms of priorities, the Independent Expert stressed the consolidation of peace and democracy, building a solid foundation of civil and political rights, and completing disarmament. Justice was essential and was the basis for the consolidation of democracy; there was a need to be careful not to destroy what had already been achieved. Civil society was one of the watchdogs which could raise alarms and point out weaknesses. Mr. Ayat also stressed the need to promote economic, social and cultural rights which were closely interlinked with civil and political rights. Côte d’Ivoire was well on the road and the international community had a responsibility to support this process. The law on the protection of human rights defenders, which was quite unique in Africa, needed to be more effective, and Côte d’Ivoire should promulgate a decree to implement that law.

Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Boko Haram

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said violations by Boko Haram were extensive and far-reaching, demanding a response of commensurate magnitude. It was encouraging to see governmental control being re-established over key areas of Nigeria, which gave hope that the authorities would address the root causes of this crisis, including poverty, socio-economic deprivation and poor governance. Interviews with survivors indicated a pattern of vicious and indiscriminate attacks including massacres; the burning down of villages; attacks on places of worship and schools, and the slaughter of people taking refuge in such sites; torture; abduction on a massive scale, including of children; forced displacement; child recruitment; and extremely severe and widespread violations of the rights of women and girls, including sexual slavery, sexual violence, forced so-called "marriages", and forced pregnancy. It was vital that perpetrators of such crimes were held accountable. Coupled with massive displacement, destruction and abuses by Boko Haram had had a major impact on the economy of the region, causing severe food shortages. This had been exacerbated by security measures taken by regional authorities that restricted circulation. The forced displacement of 40,000 islanders in Niger had generated great hardship. These measures had sharply increased the risk of poverty for the population of the entire region, had generated understandable ill-feeling among the affected communities, and could ultimately contribute to support for Boko Haram.

It was vital that the regional security forces refrained from adding to the suffering of the people. The High Commissioner was dismayed by reports that people, including women and children, who had been held captive or enslaved by Boko Haram – and who had fled or been delivered by government forces – were being subjected to detention, sometimes for lengthy periods, without charges. High Commissioner Zeid strongly urged the most compassionate possible interpretation of the current regulations on abortion, to include the risk of suicide and risks to mental health for women and young girls pregnant as a result of rape. The High Commissioner expressed concerns at alleged serious human rights violations by the Nigerian Military Forces and the Cameroonian armed forces as well as by shocking detention conditions, and insisted on the need for greater attention to human rights by both the military and the police when carrying out security operations against Boko Haram. It was time to give proper consideration to the need for a profound policy response that was grounded in the need for accountability and reconciliation, with measures to promote socio-economic rights and improve governance. The authorities also had to assist women and girl survivors of Boko Haram, including encouraging their reintegration into their communities, establishing accountability for sexual violence, and ensuring greater respect for women's rights.

Statements by Concerned Countries

Cameroon welcomed the Human Rights Council’s initiative to hold a Special Session on 20 April 2015 on Boko Haram, and noted that the mission deployed with a view to gathering information on atrocities committed by Boko Haram was a clear implementation of the session’s resolution. Cameroon commended the support received by the mission and said that experts had carried out several safe and secure visits throughout the country and met with refugees, as well as with ministerial and regional authorities, and non-governmental organizations. Cameroon hoped to continue its collaboration with the Human Rights Council and with countries concerned. Regarding the notion of State responsibility, Cameroon noted that its policy was in full accordance with human rights, which was taught in military schools and which instructed on how to treat prisoners. Thus Cameroon regretted that non-governmental organizations aimed to tarnish the reputation of the military. Following the death of 25 persons in a cell in a region, discipline measures had been taken against the perpetrators and these had been relieved of their duties. The 84 detained child soldiers had been released. Cameroon appealed to the international community to continue its efforts to help, especially with regard to the refugees.

Chad thanked the High Commissioner for his oral update on the abuses and violations perpetrated by Boko Haram, following the Special Session held by the Human Rights Council and the resolution thereof, which had called for a report on the situation. Chad noted with satisfaction that the oral report had just been delivered. Boko Haram had been born in Nigeria but all countries of the Lake Chad Basin were concerned. Its activities had various ramifications. Thousands of Nigerian refugees had fled into Chad. Thousands of Chad’s citizens had been living and working in areas where Boko Haram was operating. There were economic consequences as well, the trade with Nigeria which had been intense, had completely stopped. People living along the lake had fled to the interior, leaving their fisheries and other activities. There were also serious social consequences, including employment and lives of the people. Chad was on the frontline of combatting Boko Haram and had suffered a suicide attack in Ndjamena on June 15, in which over 100 people had been injured. The Government’s response had been immediate, and the rapid reaction had succeeded in destroying Boko Haram’s weapons and bombs.

Niger firmly condemned human rights violations committed by Boko Haram and said that this terrorist group had not yet been beaten and continued to raid villages and massacre civilians with unprecedented violence. Niger had been combatting Boko Haram since February 2015 and rapid deployment of security forces coupled with movement control had helped protect the population. With the support of numerous humanitarian agencies, the Government provided support to refugees and displaced persons, but more resources were needed for food, health care and sanitation. The members of the Lake Chad Commission had stepped up their joint efforts to combat Boko Haram and had put in place a multinational mixed force with a budget of $ 30 million. The countries of the Lake Chad Basin had a legitimate right to start a war in order to protect themselves and their population from Boko Haram.

Nigeria said that the activities of Boko Haram threatened the peace and stability of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Niger and its pledge of allegiance to ISIL was a wake-up call and indicated wider security implications on the region and the world. Nigeria was aware that the solution to terrorism was not only found in the military campaign, and that was why it had embarked on a comprehensive and holistic counter-terrorism programme, aimed at limiting the pool of potential recruitments by providing job opportunities for the youth and shutting down sources of funding, while a mechanism for systemic monitoring of activities in the affected areas had been established. Nigeria would do all that was necessary to protect the rights of citizens in the affected areas and said that it had been necessary to declare a state of emergency in three states most affected by terrorism, giving the military the right to arrest and detain.

Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Boko Haram

European Union strongly condemned abuses by Boko Haram, and continued to assist the Nigerian Government and affected countries to address the humanitarian crisis. It reaffirmed the primary responsibility of States to protect their populations, including from acts of terror, and expressed concerns over allegations of violations by Nigerian security forces. Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the Council’s unanimity regarding Boko Haram, and expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in affected regions, including mass displacement. It called on the international community to provide the Multinational Force with necessary support for ensuring accountability for Boko Haram terrorists. Sierra Leone said terrorism had never been so pervasive; it led to humanitarian crises and was a major obstacle to development. Countries had to work together to develop strategies and policies to combat and prevent the criminal activities of terrorist groups, block their sources of funding and hold perpetrators accountable. United States encouraged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to maintain a balanced and objective focus on atrocities committed both by Boko Haram and State-sponsored groups. It hoped the final report would stress the need for accountability for all perpetrators, and insisted that lasting stability and security required respect for human rights, including an independent judiciary and the rule of law.

Poland condemned in the strongest terms the grave abuses of human rights committed by Boko Haram. It was imperative that the Nigerian forces maintained their proactive stance against terrorists and fulfilled their duties in protecting the civilian population. Poland hoped that the new administration in Nigeria would do its utmost to tackle not only the security dimension of the Boko Haram challenge but the social root causes of this phenomenon, such as the development of northern provinces. Spain said that victims of terrorism suffered social stigma and psycho-social consequences and stressed the need for the protection of victims and the respect of their rights to recognition and reparation. The fight against terrorism must respect obligations arising from international law, particularly human rights, humanitarian and refugee laws. Togo welcomed the commitment of the new President of Nigeria who had invested into developing regional cooperation to fight Boko Haram, including the setting up of the mixed multinational force. Although weakened, Boko Haram had continued its murderous attacks and had now joined Daesh, so it was imperative to limit their sources of funding. Ecuador expressed its particular indignation at the use of children as suicide bombers, forced marriages, sexual violence, slavery and forced recruitment. The international community should unite efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by Boko Haram.

Iran strongly condemned atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity by Boko Haram, and said terrorist acts violated human rights and threatened States’ stability and territorial integrity. National governments and the international community should do their utmost to address the root causes of terrorism through a comprehensive approach and actions to put an end to financial support to extremists. France was concerned that civilians were the daily victims of atrocities by Boko Haram, and most strongly condemned these acts. France underlined the necessity to hold perpetrators accountable, and stressed the obligations of all parties to respect international human rights and international law. It therefore welcomed recent pledges to investigate alleged violations by security forces.

Australia remained deeply disturbed over attacks by Boko Haram, and sexual violence against women and girls, and stressed the need for accountability. Australia was concerned at the impact that Boko Haram had on stability in the region, and said measures to counter terrorism had to comply with international human rights and humanitarian law. Mali said despicable activities by Boko Haram shocked the human conscience, and paid tribute to the commitment of affected countries to overcome this criminal organization. Mali also paid tribute to all partners providing assistance to the victims. No country was safe from terrorism, and Mali was still paying a heavy price.

Gabon said Boko Haram’s activities undoubtedly violated human rights and international humanitarian law. Gabon expressed its solidarity with its brothers from the concerned countries, and welcomed the regional and sub-regional groups’ initiatives. It regretted, however, that despite efforts, the fight was far from won, and called upon the international community to remain firm in fighting the scourge. Germany regretted that since the Human Rights Council Special Session in April, attacks by Boko Haram had continued. Germany conveyed its condolences to all friends and relatives of victims and commended the efforts of the Nigerian Army and the armed forces of Niger, Cameroon and Chad to fight Boko Haram and free hostages. Germany encouraged the countries to continue their fight against Boko Haram and urged the Nigerian President to continue the investigations of human rights violations. Legal processes were part of the process. Canada firmly condemned the widespread violations of international humanitarian law by Boko Haram. Now that a growing number of women and children were being saved from these horrors, the international community needed to ensure that they received continued support. Canada fully supported the High Commissioner’s for investigations into all infringements on human rights. The terrorists had to be brought to justice. Egypt said that Boko Haram’s activities were extensive and far reaching. It was concerned that the phenomenon of terrorism had undergone reforms in past months which represented a growing threat to States, destabilizing legitimate governments and presenting a threat to international security. Boko Haram’s activities had expanded from West to Central Africa, and affected all of Africa. Regional and international cooperation was needed to combat this group and combat impunity.

United Kingdom said it was deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks by Boko Haram, and was appalled by the atrocities against those who did not follow their extremist and intolerant views. It noted that all operations against Boko Haram must be fully compliant with international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It urged States to meet the needs of those affected. Morocco noted that it had been drawing attention to security risks in the Sahara region and Western Africa during the past decade. Boko Haram posed a global challenge and a challenge to State authority; it endangered human rights and posed a threat to international peace and security. New Zealand stated that the atrocities committed by Boko Haram shocked the conscience and demanded the strongest possible response. It welcomed the endorsement by Nigeria and Niger of the Safe Schools Declaration at the recent Oslo Conference, and encouraged Cameroon and Chad to do so, in order to ensure that countering terrorism was in accordance with international human rights standards. Algeria regretted that the atrocities committed by Boko Haram were ongoing in several countries, in particular in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, and welcomed the efforts by those countries in combatting Boko Haram. The threat of terrorism generally extended beyond the borders of affected countries, which was why the international community had to provide assistance to those countries.

Ireland said Boko Haram constituted a threat to peace and security in the region, and was appalled by the discovery of mass graves and by allegations of violations and abuses against women and girls. Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon should consider the valuable guidance of Special Procedures on protecting human rights while countering terrorism. Venezuela expressed its consternation at violence by Boko Haram, including the abduction of women and girls, and condemned actions to exterminate religious groups. Venezuela called for tolerance and respect, and said the crisis engendered by this group had to gather together the international community in supporting efforts to achieve stability and combat terrorism, while respecting the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. China said terrorism, and particularly acts by Boko Haram, affected stability, development, territorial integrity and the humanitarian situation in the whole region, and said the international community had to support African countries’ efforts in favour of peace and development. African Union expressed its support to the victims of atrocities by Boko Haram, particularly women and girls. Terrorist acts by Boko Haram required joint actions to combat this scourge. The multidimensional nature of these crimes required a pluri-disciplinary approach by the international community.

Sudan said that the activities of Boko Haram emphasized that the rule of law was mandatory for countering terrorism. Sudan was deeply concerned by the violations committed by Boko Haram and encouraged the international community to combat it and to provide assistance and funding to the African Union to effectively fight Boko Haram. Switzerland welcomed the importance of the dialogue and condemned the forced violence and sexual abuse committed by Boko Haram. The fact that children were involved was unacceptable. States had the main responsibility in combatting this scourge, and had to take all necessary measures to ensure that violators of human rights were persecuted. It was important for the High Commissioner’s report to be adopted in September in order to identify accountability and assistance needs.

Burundi welcomed the organization of the interactive dialogue on such a thorny matter, and thanked the High Commissioner for having updated the Council on the worrying activities of Boko Haram. The atrocities committed by that group were beyond description and had an appalling effect on human rights. Burundi reiterated its solidarity with the affected countries. Benin said that despite the efforts of affected countries, Boko Haram continued to cause the death of tens of thousands of people, with enormous consequences for the economy of those countries. It welcomed the efforts of the international community to pursue initiatives on behalf of the affected countries. It was necessary to redouble efforts to fight Boko Haram. Libya shared the worries of the affected countries and expressed concern that more atrocities and violations were being committed by Boko Haram. It expressed solidarity with the affected families in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, noting that no place in the world was immune to the acts of terrorist groups. The international community had to provide assistance to affected countries in order to combat terrorism. Rwanda condemned abuses of human rights and atrocities committed by Boko Haram in the affected countries, and stressed the need for a concerted response to end the threat of Boko Haram. It welcomed the commitment and progress made in combatting that terrorist group by the affected countries.

Ethiopia strongly condemned acts by Boko Haram, which remained a huge challenge to global peace and security and required a united response from the international community. There was a need to support affected countries’ efforts to combat terrorism and address the needs of the affected population, including through technical assistance. Mauritania firmly condemned terrorism in all its forms, and appalling acts against civilians by Boko Haram. The international community had to remain firm, determined and supportive, and increased solidarity was needed as terrorism threatened peace around the world. Republic of Congo said Boko Haram was continuing to defy the international community with its cruelty, and called on all States to continue their support to affected countries. Boko Haram’s acts had had a negative impact on development and on the humanitarian situation in those countries, and constituted a threat to global security. International solidarity was strongly needed to address these challenges.

Human Rights Watch said greater respect for human rights was essential in Nigeria. Boko Haram had targeted civilians, particularly women and girls, and attacked villages. In response to Boko Haram, Nigerian security forces had been perpetrating serious violations of human rights law, including arbitrary detention, in total impunity. Human Rights Watch called for investigations and accountability for these allegations. Amnesty International said that it continued to document and report war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Boko Haram and referred the Council to its report “Our job is to shoot, slaughter and kill:” Boko Haram’s reign of terror in north east Nigeria. Amnesty informed on the violations by forces fighting on behalf of the Government of Nigeria to protect the people from Boko Haram. Centre for Reproduction Rights was extremely concerned by the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by Boko Haram targeting women and girls in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Abductions, sexual slavery and trafficking, child, early and forced marriages, rape and forced pregnancies were only the tip of the iceberg. Boko Haram had abducted over 2000 girls since 2014, and out of the 234 women released by the Nigerian Army, 214 were pregnant. International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, in a joint statement with Women’s Consortium of Nigeria, condemned the heinous crimes committed by Boko Haram, and regretted that most of the girls abducted from Chibok last year were still missing. It called upon the Human Rights Council members to support the Government of Nigeria to combat the terrorist group and restore peace and religious harmony in the country.

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues condemned in the strongest terms the grave violations of international human rights committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and recently in Niger and Chad. It was estimated that almost 13,000 persons had been killed by that group since 2009, whereas 1.5 million people were refugees or internally displaced by the conflict. Arab Commission for Human Rights expressed appreciation for the efforts made by the Office of the High Commissioner to investigate human rights violations. Donor countries could and should carry out careful examinations in order to assess the needs to local populations and try to repair the damage done by Boko Haram. Special rapporteurs and mandate holders should take part in the investigations in the field. Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, in a joint statement with North South XXI, noted that since the special session on Boko Haram held by the Council on 1 April, Nigeria had lived in an atmosphere of tension and successive acts of terror perpetrated by Boko Haram, which sent young kamikaze into villages in border zones of Cameroon, Chad and Niger in order to spread terror among defenceless civilian populations. It expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north-east of Nigeria.

Concluding Remarks

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, High Commissioner for Human Rights, thanked all those delegations who had welcomed his oral update and had commented on the report. He was grateful for the comments extended to his office and the team in the field. He expressed appreciation for the unison of opinion and expression of support for the affected countries. As for the measures to be taken against regeneration of Boko Haram in the future, the High Commissioner explained there were three basic components: full provisions of government services while honouring human rights; development activity and the effort of the international donor community to rebuild the affected areas; and the international community’s actions to undo the thought mechanism that underpinned the ideology of Boko Haram, and efforts to counter it through education. As for mentioned difficulties in the drafting of the report, The High Commissioner Zeid expressed hope that concerned States would continue to cooperate in the drafting process.


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