Amnesty International has commended Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for setting up a judicial commission to investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by Nigeria’s security agencies.
In a statement Saturday, the group said the move is long overdue and is an opportunity to bring justice to victims of war crimes and other serious human rights violations committed across parts of Nigeria affected by conflict.
“We therefore call on the government to ensure that victims of human rights violations are allowed to present evidence to the commission without fear and with all the necessary protection,” said Osai Ojigho, Director, Amnesty International Nigeria.
Mr. Osinbajo on Friday announced the appointment of a seven-member Judicial Commission headed by Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Court of Appeal to review compliance of the Nigerian Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, especially in local conflict and insurgency situations.
The announcement came after months of accusation by local and international media as well as groups that the military were culpable in several cases of human rights abuse, an allegation the government had largely left the military to investigate itself and thus clear itself of the allegations.
In its statement, Amnesty International called on the government to ensure that the commission is independent, impartial and free from any conflict of interest that may affect the integrity of its work.
“Ensuring that the commission has the resources to carry out its work and making its terms of reference public can bring transparency,” said Mr. Ojigho.
“Investigating compliance of security agencies with rules of engagements in all conflicts, and violation of international humanitarian and human rights law is a step in the right direction that must be carried out with all sense of responsibility of making sure that no human rights violation goes unaccounted for.
“The mandate of the commission to advise on preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situations is also a vital step for the country.”
“The government’s priority should be justice, human rights and the dignity of human life in Nigeria. All persons reasonably suspected of committing crimes under international law and other serious violations of human rights on all sides of all conflicts in the country must be brought to justice in fair trials before civilian courts without recourse to the death penalty.”