The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the “wanton carnage” of the jihadist terror group Boko Haram, noting that, should many of the human rights violations reportedly committed by the group be confirmed, they could be found guilty of crimes against humanity.
The UN Human Rights Council met this week specifically to address the Boko Haram threat, which High Commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein asserted “must be stopped.” Hussein noted in particular the discovery of a new mass grave in Borno state, in the nation’s northeastern corner and distinctive for having borne the brunt of Boko Haram’s campaign against non-Muslims, education, and women generally. While there was no way of confirming whether the victims, most female, found in the mass grave were some of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, Borno, in April 2014, but they very well could be.
That mass grave discovery follows a similar one by the Chadian military in Damasak, Nigeria, in late March. The Damasak grave, located under a bridge, contained at least 100 bodies. Three days after the Chadian military found that grave, Boko Haram attacked Damasak again, abducting between 350-500 people.
According to Zeid, the mass graves tell only part of the story. Boko Haram, he alleged, is using children as “cannon fodder” and “human shields,” as well as displacing hundreds of thousands of Nigerians. “This despicable and wanton carnage, which constitutes a clear and urgent menace for development, peace and security, must be stopped,” he concluded.
If proven, the UN Human Rights head concluded, Boko Haram could be guilty of crimes against humanity.
The United Nations made a similar announcement regarding Boko Haram’s sister organization, the Islamic State, in late March. UN officials noted that crimes against Kurdish Muslims and Yazidis in northern Iraq may constitute genocide and war crimes in an international court.
As the United Nations mulls potential legal actions against Boko Haram, the group continues its assault on Nigeria and its allies. Most recently, Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reports that nine Chadian soldiers were killed on Thursday in a surprise Boko Haram ambush. Sixteen others were reportedly wounded.
Largely in response to the incumbent government’s inability to destroy Boko Haram, Nigerians elected a new party into power this weekend, led by President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim northerner who has personally been the target of a Boko Haram suicide bomb. The government of Borno state appears optimistic in light of the transfer of power.
“The fact is we have no doubt about it, that being a retired General and former governor of the North-east who stayed in Maiduguri; and being a former GOC who did a lot against rebel forces from Chad, we are confident that Buhari will do something urgently to salvage Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states from the condition they found themselves in for the last five years,” said Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, Secretary to the Borno State Government, about the elections this week. He added that the former government, led by southern Christian President Goodluck Jonathan, had “no political commitment” to the fight against Boko Haram.