24 April 2014

Nigeria: Appeal to UN for kidnapped Schoolgirls

Lagos — THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the nongovernmental organization, has appealed to the United Nations to urgently intervene to secure the release of 230 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State.

Suspected Boko Haram members kidnapped the girls last week.

SERAP wants the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) of the UN Security Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide international assistance and support to local authorities to secure the release of the children and ensure that they are back at school.

In a statement SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the continuing abduction of the children was having negative impact on their well-being and long-term education.

"We are urging these bodies to move swiftly to support efforts to protect schools, teachers, and students from deliberate attack in the North-East of the country.

"In particular we urge the UN Security Council's Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on Children and Armed Conflict to take strong action including by referring members of the Boko Haram and their backers to the International Criminal Court.

Accountability for attacks on school children and education-including prosecuting perpetrators-is critical to deterring perpetration of crimes under international law," the group added.

The group said the International Criminal Court had explicit jurisdiction over intentional attacks against school children and buildings dedicated to education in both international and internal armed conflicts.

The group added, "The abduction of the children is also an attack on their right to education, and calls for a strong international effort. Making students, teachers, and schools genuinely expose to non-state armed groups like Boko Haram requires governments, opposition groups, NGOs, and inter-governmental organizations to implement strong measures that are enforced by rigorous monitoring, preventive interventions, rapid response to violations, and accountability for violators of domestic and international law."

SERAP urge the Nigerian government to specifically criminalize attacks on students and teachers and prohibit the use of schools for military purposes.

"We also call on the UN bodies to provide assistance in tracking attacks on schools, teachers, and students, and to help devise an effective response.

"We believe that while the government is in the best position to monitor attacks, it has so far not demonstrated the will or capacity to do so," the group said.

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