ICC urged to probe Nigeria abortion furore


Nigeria air force

from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
Nigeria Bureau
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE International Criminal Court (ICC) has been urged to reopen investigations into alleged human rights violations by the Nigerian military during ant-terror operations.

The request comes amid allegations the military ran a secret, systematic and illegal abortion programme in the northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, where security forces are fighting the Boko Haram insurgent group.

An international media outlet reported that this programme has terminated at least 10 000 pregnancies since 2013.

The pregnant women and girls had been kidnapped, forcibly married, and repeatedly raped by the Boko Haram.

It is alleged after being rescued by Nigerian security forces, the women and girls were kept in military custody for days or weeks, where they received pills and injections – under false pretenses – leading to abortions without consent or prior knowledge.

This adds to the potential atrocity crimes, including alleged torture, rape and extrajudicial killings of civilians and suspected members of the armed group.

“After two years of inaction on the situation in Nigeria, the Prosecutor of the ICC should immediately request authorization to open an investigation into all alleged crimes,” said Juliette Paauwe, Nigeria expert at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

She said the military must immediately halt the said abortion programme and ensure the safety and security of women and girls rescued from armed extremist groups.

At the end of 2020 the ICC closed its preliminary examination in Nigeria.

It concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram and the military had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has pursued a violent campaign aimed at overthrowing Nigeria’s secular government and establishing an Islamic state.

More than 35 000 people are estimated to have been killed.

The Nigerian military has dismissed the abortion allegations as “wickedness” and “mercenary journalism”.

– CAJ News

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