Army/Shi’ites Clash: SERAP seeks UN investigation

Ban- Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has sent an urgent appeal to Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, requesting him to “use your good offices and position to urgently investigate allegations of attack by the Nigerian military on a Shia Muslim group in Zaria, Kaduna State, and the alleged killing of numerous people after a military convoy got stuck by a march”.
The urgent appeal, dated 17 December 2015, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, reads in part:  “SERAP is seriously concerned that the allegations of extra-judicial executions by the Nigerian military amount to serious violations of the right to life, guaranteed under article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“The right to life is so fundamental because without it all other rights would be devoid of meaning. The right to life ensures that every person has a right to be free from the arbitrary deprivation of life and places certain limitations on the use of force, including by the Nigerian military.”
“SERAP is concerned that the attack by the Nigerian military may amount to disproportionate and excessive use of force and not militarily necessary in the fight against Boko Haram. The Nigerian military should have done everything feasible to prevent the killings.  “Everything feasible” means precautions that are “practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.”
“As one of the State’s central duties is to protect life, it is a particularly serious breach of this duty when its own agents violate this right – leaving little hope that they will be effective in preventing violations by others. SERAP is concerned that human rights are brought under threat and the security of the country may eventually be put at risk if the power of the military is not properly controlled or if the military is not held to account for serious human rights violations.”
“The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and international law recognise the inherent right of every person to life, and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life. Indeed, everyone is entitled to the protection of the right to life without distinction or discrimination of any kind, and all persons shall be guaranteed equal and effective access to remedies for the violation of this right.”
“Moreover, article 4, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that exceptional circumstances such as internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked to justify any derogation from the right to life and security of the person.”
“Similarly, the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions in Principle 4 sets forth the obligation of Governments including Nigeria to guarantee effective protection through judicial or other means to individuals and groups who are in danger of extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions.”
“The proportionality requirement under human rights law limits the permissible level of force based on the threat posed the victims to the Chief of Army Staff or his convoy. The necessity requirement imposes an obligation to minimize the level of force used, regardless of the amount that would be proportionate.”
“Thus, States’ duty to respect and to ensure the right to life entails an obligation to exercise “due diligence” to protect the lives of individuals from attacks, including members of the Shia Muslim group in Zaria, Kaduna.”
SERAP therefore asked the Special Rapporteur to:
  1. Publicly express concerns about the allegations of use of excessive force by the Nigerian military and the unlawful killing of many members of the Shia Muslim group in Zaria, Kaduna
  2. Investigate the allegations and/or ask the Nigerian government to thoroughly investigate the allegations and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible
  3. Ask the Nigerian government to establish effective accountability mechanisms for human rights violations by its soldiers

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