Pressure Builds on Nigeria to Exit International Criminal Court While Boko Haram War Rages

Image taken from a video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, Oct. 31, 2014. AP

Some activists this week reportedly urged the Nigerian government to rescind the African country’s ratification of the International Criminal Court (ICC), stating that some groups are using the independent judicial institution as a tool to “blackmail” Nigerian troops with threats of war crime charges that ultimately hinder their efforts against Boko Haram terrorists.

In a statement issued Tuesday, participants at an International Conference on Human Rights and Armed Conflict in Nigeria hosted by Global Amnesty Watch in collaboration with the University of Nigeria declared:

It is regrettable that there has been a stall in the efforts to totally eradicate Boko Haram insurgents owing to several external interferences. These interferences include strategic support for the terrorists by international NGOs like Amnesty International and other groups representing its interests in Nigeria and the failure of Nigeria’s neighbors to honor international and regional commitments.

The International Criminal Court is constantly used to harass and intimidate military commanders and troops to discourage them from being committed to defeating Boko Haram. The myriads of false reports from Amnesty International and other groups usually have built-in texts that threaten military personnel with arraignment for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.

The London-based Amnesty International has accused the Nigerian military of committing several human rights violations, including arbitrarily arresting and detaining “thousands” of alleged Boko Haram jihadists as well as raping starving women who “survived the brutal rule of the Boko Haram.”

Primarily focused on criticizing what it perceives as “biased” reports from Amnesty International, Nigeria’s Global Amnesty Watch has accused the London-based organization of interfering in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram.

The Nigeria-based group urged Abuja to exit the ICC, asserting that the country’s military is already “meeting [the] international standard of the rules of engagement.”

Complaints against the Nigerian military brought before the ICC are generating “sympathy” for Boko Haram, Global Amnesty Watch claimed, according to the Leadership newspaper.

In turn, the terrorist group uses that sentiment as a “propaganda” tool “for recruiting and radicalizing new members,” it proclaimed in the statement, adding:

We demand that the federal government immediately activate the necessary steps for Nigeria to exit the Rome Statute and its creation, the International Criminal Court, to ensure that the military can fight terrorism without the cloak of blackmail constantly hanging over them.

The government must in the interim assure the military that it is insulated from the International Criminal Court in view of its operations meeting international standard of rules of engagement.

According to Leadership, the activists called for the creation of a special task force in lieu of the ICC to review and respond to allegations emanating from Amnesty International and similar groups, noting, “The task team is to help citizens understand when they are being wilfully misled by these entities.”

The Nigerian activists also reportedly said that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has made “progress” against Boko Haram.

This week, Buhari declared the Boko Haram jihadist group “degraded” soon after dozens of its members surrendered to the African country’s military.

Carefully choosing his words after falsely claiming to have “defeated” Boko Haram on several occasions, Buhari proclaimed on Tuesday, according to the Premium Times:

Today, the capacity of the insurgents has been degraded leading to the re-establishment of authority of government and the release of captives including, happily, 106 Chibok and 104 Dapchi girls, and over 16,000 other persons held by the Boko Haram.

His comments came a day after news reports revealed that up to 146 Boko Haram terrorists “willingly surrendered” to the Nigerian military under an operation that provides jihadists “to repent and surrender,” the Nation news outlet reports.

While acknowledging the ongoing presence of Boko Haram “miscreants” in Nigeria, Major General Rogers Nicholas declared that the jihadist group is “not occupying any territory of Nigeria,” according to the Daily Trust news outlet.

The Buhari administration in Nigeria has repeatedly claimed to have wholly annihilated Boko Haram, only to have the group carry out an attack soon after the pronouncement.

While Global Amnesty Watch wants Nigeria to secede from the ICC, human rights lawyer Helen Johnson penned an editorial for the Daily Trust urging the judicial institution to do more to end Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign.

Created in 1998 by an international treaty — the Rome Statute — the ICC has the mandate under international law to probe and prosecute crimes.


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