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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora