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ICC Prosecutor: We’ve Reasonable Basis to Believe Nigerian Security Forces Committed Crimes against Humanity

December 11, 2020 10:37 pm1

International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has said there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Announcing the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria in a statement Friday, Bensouda said the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria had been met.

Below is the full statement.

Statement of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria

“Today, I announce the conclusion of the preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria.

“As I stated last year at the annual Assembly of States Parties, before I end my term as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), I intend to reach determinations on all files that have been under preliminary examination under my tenure, as far as I am able. In that statement, I also indicated the high likelihood that several preliminary examinations would progress to the investigative stage. Following a thorough process, I can announce today that the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met.

“Specifically, my Office has concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of Boko Haram and its splinter groups have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder; rape, sexual slavery, including forced pregnancy and forced marriage; enslavement; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed groups and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.

“W’hile my Office recognises that the vast majority of criminality within the situation is attributable to non-state actors, we have also found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces (“NSF”) have committed the following acts constituting crimes against humanity and war crimes: murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment; enforced disappearance; forcible transfer of population; outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; unlawful imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.

“These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by my Office, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. My Office will provide further details in our forthcoming annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities.

“The preliminary examination has been lengthy not because of the findings on crimes – indeed, as early as 2013, the Office announced its findings on crimes in Nigeria, which have been updated regularly since. The duration of the preliminary examination, open since 2010, was due to the priority given by my Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting these crimes domestically.

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