News / Africa

    UN: Sale of Girls by Boko Haram Would Be Crime Against Humanity

    Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., May 6, 2014.
    Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C., May 6, 2014.
    Lisa Schlein
    The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the reported intention by Boko Haram to sell abducted girls as slaves could constitute a crime against humanity. The militant group reportedly has kidnapped eight more girls in northeastern Nigeria. This follows last month’s abduction of more than 300 schoolgirls.
     
    The U.N. Human Rights office is condemning the outrageous claims made in a video by the alleged leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria Monday. In that video, he referred to the abducted girls as slaves and said he would sell them in the market and marry them off.
     
    U.N. Human Rights Commission spokesman Rupert Colville said Tuesday the members of this militant Islamic group will pay a price for their crimes. He said there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law.  And under certain circumstances, he said, these can constitute crimes against humanity.
     
    “There is no statute of limitations for very serious international crimes, especially crimes against humanity ...  Slavery, sexual slavery under international law can be considered as crimes against humanity. That means anyone responsible can be arrested and charged and prosecuted and jailed at any time in the future.  So, just because they think they are safe now, they will not necessarily be in two years, five years, 10 years’ time,” said Colville. 
     
    There are specific criteria for an act to reach the level of crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court defines such offenses as "particularly odious" and that constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or degradation of human beings. It also says such acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a government policy, tolerated by a government, or if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.
     
    Last year, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court referred to reports of murder and persecution by Boko Haram to justify its belief that the Islamic group committed crimes against humanity.

    'All necessary measures'

    Three weeks ago, Boko Haram abducted more than 300 schoolgirls from their dormitory in Chibok in Borno State in northern Nigeria. Some have escaped, but the kidnappers hold more than 270 girls. The Nigerian government has been widely criticized for not doing enough to find and free these girls.

    In commenting on Boko Haram’s intention to sell the abducted girls, Colville said the consequences of forced marriage can be absolutely devastating. He said the power differentials between the girls and their so-called spouses are likely to strip them of autonomy and undermine their freedom of will and expression.

    “The situation will be tantamount to slavery or slavery-like practices within the so-called marriage. It is also likely to expose them to continuous physical, psychological, economic, and sexual violence and also, probably, restrictions of movement," he said. "So, it is a totally devastating experience for anyone to have to go through.”  

    The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is urging Nigerian authorities to take all necessary measures, consistent with human rights, to protect their people from the violations and crimes perpetrated by Boko Haram.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: kizito from: abuja
    May 14, 2014 12:53 AM
    us should not only send intellgence and logistic team, they should also come with combat team and embark on full military operation. Because there is only but one path..... :We kill them all:

    by: helen from: USA
    May 12, 2014 11:31 AM
    some girls escaped,escaped or killed for not turning to islam

    by: Eric from: New York
    May 12, 2014 8:30 AM
    Everything possible? Ask the USA to send a Marine Expeditionary Unit to come kill them all. The girls would be home in a week

    by: Debi Brand from: Claremore, OK
    May 08, 2014 11:14 PM

    “Slavery, sexual slavery under international law can be considered as crimes against humanity.”

    And well they should be.

    As so too should be, cold blooded murdering, burning down churches and houses because one openly apologetically rejects the teachings of Muhammad.

    But the problem is, that mentioned murdering, destroying, and enslavement are part of the teachings of the Qur’an and the example and instruction of/in the traditions of their prophet.

    This is all just part of their basic belief system.

    Add to that, the “believer” is Allah-commanded to not harm the prophet. Finding fault in him and the deen he brought counts as harming him. Dishonoring him. Thus, obligates the believer to defend the honor of their prophet.

    So we will see more murders, more abductions, more destroying of churches, home, and businesses by arson as more “believers’ obey Allah’s command, and follow the Sunnah of their prophet.

    In short: wherever Islam is practiced, Islam will be practiced.

    by: Markus from: Sandy
    May 07, 2014 2:45 PM
    Rubbish comment. It is baffling that the UN is waiting for this nefarious group to commit more evil before they declare their actions as crimes against humanity as if these hideous crimes are not crime enough. Shows how sterile the UN and its leadership has become.

    by: Banduren from: UT
    May 07, 2014 2:40 PM
    This UN comment is as outrageous as the crimes themselves. Why are they putting an if clause on these horrible groups. Boko haram has already committed numerous crimes against humanity and the UN is waiting for them commit more before they declare these evil actions as crimes against humanity. Perhaps if these actions were committed Syria or North Korea or Iran, then they will have more weight. I am baffled. It shows that this world group is seriously becoming irrelevant.

    by: mike tomaszewski from: lancaster, ny usa
    May 07, 2014 12:11 PM
    If these girls are sold, then every Boko Harum individual caught by the government should be sold into slavery in some other country. See how they like it from the receiving end

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    May 07, 2014 8:02 AM
    The UN as usual is in the dark ages when it comes to Islamist crimes; everything that this terrorist, Boko Haram, org does is crimes against humanity, all their past attacks deliberately targeted civilians; the massacre of the school boys; the bus bombings; the market bombings, attacking Cristians, attacking churches,... etc.

    More importantly, people purchasing and having slaves is also a crime against humanity....It appears that the UN continues to go slow and easy, as usual, on Islamists and their very serious crimes; one can only see this situation as an inherent organizational bias! I wonder why, could it be due to the composition of the HR org???

    by: markjuliansmith from: Canberra
    May 07, 2014 6:37 AM
    UN warns Boko Haram", as they warned Syria, as they warned North Korea, as they warned .... I am once again reminded of Lincoln's view of Douglas (UN) "..one of them brags about what he means to do. He jumps in the air cracking his heels together, smites his fists, and wastes his breath trying to scare somebody." Nobody inclusive of Boko Haram are 'scared'. Boko Haram will just continue to do as they do, as their Islamic cultural codex justifies and authorises. Change the Architect and Builder or Change Nothing. As we see more school girls have been taken, Change the Islamic codex construct of Other and women or Change Nothing.

    by: Hamidi from: Kabul Afghanistan
    May 07, 2014 5:32 AM
    We are all humans, and we should pay our full attention to the rights of even each living soul who living on the earth because everyone and every living has its own freedom of life, the only diversity between humans and Animals is that the creator of the Nature donated the tongue as a biggest gift which we could stay in touch with each other and reach the agreement.
    So why kidnapping? Why violence? Why the trade of the girls? And why we need the rule and law of UN?
    Finally we should be human and we should act as human, let’s stop the beast activities against our society
    Hamidi
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora