News / Africa

    Rights Group Condemns Boko Haram

    Security officials assess the scene of a bomb blast that killed four people by suspected members of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, April 8, 2012. Security officials assess the scene of a bomb blast that killed four people by suspected members of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, April 8, 2012.
    x
    Security officials assess the scene of a bomb blast that killed four people by suspected members of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, April 8, 2012.
    Security officials assess the scene of a bomb blast that killed four people by suspected members of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna, April 8, 2012.
    Joe DeCapua
    A human rights group says widespread and systematic violence by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram amounts to crimes against humanity. But Human Rights Watch says that government security forces also are responsible for numerous abuses, including extrajudicial killings.


    Human Rights Watch has released a nearly 100-page report entitled "Spiraling Violence: Boko Haram Attacks and Security Force Abuses in Nigeria."

    Rona Peligal, deputy director of the group’s Africa Division, said compiling evidence was difficult and dangerous.

    “For one thing, the security conditions on the ground were menacing, and we had to be very careful about how we did the research in northern Nigeria. In addition, we were monitoring attacks by Boko Haram and security forces over a three-year period. Finally, these are really difficult, nettlesome and polarizing issues, which made the report more complicated to write, but I think the report is balanced and fair and comprehensive,” she said.

    Boko Haram attacks, which began in 2009, are concentrated in northern Nigeria and have targeted police, government forces, Christians and Muslims.

    “What we did was we looked very closely at the kinds of attacks that we were seeing by Boko Haram. The fact that the attacks were widespread - that they were systematic - that they were targeted - that they were focused on particular groups of people, who had nothing to do with any kind of abuse or bad behavior. And we decided that both the intensity of the abuses, the extent of the abuses rose to the level of crimes against humanity,” said Peligal.

    She said these are the most serious human rights violations that a person or group can commit. She said they demand investigation and prosecution. Peligal also points out the International Criminal Court is monitoring the situation, including the attacks on innocent civilians.

    “People who were killed in churches while they were praying. The report has a photo essay with pictures of people who died while they were in church. And it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see wedding pictures, graduation pictures of young and promising people, whose lives were taken as a result of this callous violence,” she said.

    The report also criticizes Nigeria’s Joint Task Force, or JTF, which is trying to track down Boko Haram members and end the attacks.

    “They have begun to crack down on Boko Haram, but in a way that’s quite violent. And that in itself has contributed to its own abuses. The government itself has engaged in extrajudicial killings – has engaged in excessive use of force in communities where Boko Haram members might be located. And sometimes these have an impact on the neighboring communities,” she said.

    The Joint Task Force issued a statement Wednesday denying reports soldiers killed more than 30 people and burned shops and houses in Maiduguri. Residents in the northeastern city say soldiers became violent following a bomb attack that killed at least one soldier. The JTF statement read, in part, that there is "no recorded case of extra-judicial killings, torture, arson and arbitrary arrests by the JTF in Borno State."

    Peligal said, however, the deaths continue to mount.

    “The violence between both Boko Haram and the security forces has claimed more than 2,800 lives. But of those we estimate that 1,500 have been committed by Boko Haram, and that the remainder are largely because of security force abuses and killings. In the first nine months of 2012 alone, more than 815 people have died from this violence. And that’s more than in 2010 and 2011 combined,” she said.

    Human Rights Watch calls on Boko Haram to “immediately cease all attacks and threats of attacks, that cause loss of life, injury and destruction of property.”

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora