Nigeria: UN Rights Office Warns Boko Haram Over Proposed 'Sale' of Nigerian Schoolgirls

Citing police and residents, Sky News reported that suspected members of Nigeria's notorious Islamic extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped eight more ... ( Resource: Reports: Nigeria Extremists Kidnap 8 More Girls

The United Nations human rights office today lashed out at the militant group known as Boko Haram which claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria and now, referring to the girls as "slaves", says it plans to sell them "in the market" and "marry them off".

"We are deeply concerned about the outrageous claims made in a video believed to be by the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria yesterday," Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said in a briefing in Geneva.

"[We] warn the perpetrators that there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law," the OHCHR spokesperson warned. "These can, under certain circumstances, constitute crimes against humanity."

He added that there was no statute of limitations for such grave international crimes, including slavery and sexual slavery, "Anyone responsible could be arrested and prosecuted at any time in the future".

High Commissioner Navi Pillay has condemned the violent abduction of the girls, believed to be between 15 and 18 years old, seized at gunpoint on April 14 after Boko Haram insurgents stormed a school in the north-eastern town of Chibok.

"The girls must be immediately returned, unharmed, to their families," her spokesperson said.

As for what could be done if Boko Haram does not respect Ms. Pillay's demands, Mr. Colville said the primary responsibility lay with the Nigerian State, which was "large and strong", and he stressed that it was "particularly important to ensure greater cooperation among various authorities for the greater good, which was the release of the girls".

OHCHR has also said that the authorities need to undertake effective measures to protect their people within the remits of international law. Failure to do so would be a violation of human rights.

During a visit to Nigeria earlier this year, Ms. Pillay had said Boko Haram had grown "increasingly monstrous" in its actions. She said that the group is now targeting some people because of their religion and occupation - "and in this case, simply because the girls were enrolled in school".

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), whose spokesperson Christophe Boulierac was also participating in the briefing, said the agency had underscored in earlier statements that such acts of violence were "absolutely unacceptable, and represented a crime against international law".

The UN World Food Programme's (WFP) Elisabeth Byrs added that the right to education was a fundamental one and that "young girls had to be allowed to attend school", which WFP encourages.

Last year, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reported that there is reason to believe that Boko Haram had committed crimes against humanity, referring to reports of murder and persecution.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2014 UN News Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Boko Haram Abducts More Girls in New Attack

Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members have abducted eight teenage girls in Warabe village of Gwoza Local government area of Borno state. Read more »