5 August 2014

Nigeria: Amnesty Report Details 'Extensive' Rights Violations By Nigerian Military

Amnesty International says it has video evidence of "extensive human rights violations" by Nigerian soldiers. The footage shows suspected Boko Haram militants having their throats slit and bodies thrown in an open grave.

The global human rights group Amnesty International said Tuesday it had graphic footage, images and witness testimonies from a recent mission in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state documenting violence against civilians that constitutes "war crimes."

The material provided "fresh evidence of extrajudicial executions and serious human rights violations" carried out by Nigerian soldiers alongside what Amnesty called "state-sponsored militias."

Gruesome killings

One video showed military personnel and civilian militiamen calling five detainees out of a row of 16 young men and boys, then slitting their throats one by one and dumping their bodies into an open grave.

"The ghastly images are backed up by the numerous testimonies we have gathered which suggest that extrajudicial executions are, in fact, regularly carried out by the Nigerian military and CJTF," said Amnesty's secretary general, Salil Shetty, referring to the state-sponsored Civilian Joint Task Force militias.

"These are not the images we expect from a government which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa," Shetty added.

Footage from "numerous sources" confirmed the perpetrators were members of the Nigerian military, Amnesty said.

Nigeria's military said it was examining the video evidence "with a view to identifying those behind such acts," Defense Headquarters Chris Olukolade said, adding there would be "legal action" for those found responsible.

'Nigerians deserve better'

Amnesty said the killings occurred shortly after a Boko Haram raid on a village in which the Islamic militant group killed nearly 100 people.

Some of the video was taken on March 14, the same day Boko Haram broke into a military detention center in Giwa barracks and freed hundreds of prisoners. Amnesty contends the military recaptured more than 600 of those inmates and killed them.

"Nigerians deserve better," said Shetty. "What does it say when members of the military carry out such unspeakable acts and capture the images on film?"

More than 4,000 people have been killed this year in the conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, Amnesty said.

Around 3,600 people were killed in the first four years of the insurgency. The fighting has grown increasingly intense since the April kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, who are still captive.

dr/lw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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