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SERAP Petitions ICC Over Attacks On Protesters

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Tobi Adebayo 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC), to promptly investigate reports that the Nigerian government harrased, intimdated and attacked #EndSARS protesters with hoodlums and security operatives.

SERAP made the call in a petition signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare and sent to ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

The organisation urged her to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes to be tried by the ICC.

“Without accountability for these serious human rights crimes against peaceful protesters, the victims will continue to be denied access to justice, and impunity of perpetrators will remain widespread and the result will continue to be a vicious cycle of violence against Nigerians.

“Nigerian authorities, military and some politicians have failed abysmally to ensure the enjoyment of the rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful protest by the people. These events suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“SERAP believes that violence against protesters gives rise to individual criminal responsibility of those suspected of perpetrating and/or failing to address the problem. as entrenched in the Rome Statute.

“The incidents of intimidation, harassment attacks and killings of peaceful protesters also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to human rights and the rule of law, and to end impunity of perpetrators.

“Persistent attacks on peaceful protesters by Nigerian authorities, military, security agents and some politicians seriously undermine the people’s right to participate in their own government, and have resulted in serious human rights crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“Ending impunity for attacks on peaceful protesters would improve respect for human rights in the country, and empower the citizens to hold their leaders to account. Unless the citizens are freely allowed to exercise their right to protest, the pervasive culture of impunity will continue to flourish in the country.”

“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly failed to address these grave human rights violations, which amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

“The use of thugs and soldiers against peaceful protesters have resulted in several deaths and injuries. Nigerian authorities have failed and/or neglected to prevent these crimes against peaceful protesters.”

“Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001. It is therefore important to promptly investigate allegations of killings and other attacks on peaceful protesters if the ICC is to contribute to preventing escalations in the coming days, months and years.”

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“The CCTV monitoring cameras at the Lekki toll gate and street lights were reportedly turned off before soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters. This suggests a deliberate ploy by the authorities to cover up these crimes against humanity.”

“Nigerian authorities, military, and politicians have failed to understand the seriousness of killings of peaceful protesters, and have been complicit in the commission of these crimes.”

“The Rome Statute in article 7 defines “crime against humanity” to include “inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,” committed in a widespread or systematic manner against a civilian population. The common denominator of crimes against humanity is that they are grave affronts to human security and dignity.”

“The consequences of persistent violence, attacks and killings of peaceful protesters in Nigeria are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1). Senior government officials, the military and some politicians know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent these crimes will violate Nigerians’ human rights and dignity.”

“SERAP considers the apparent failure of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to prevent widespread and systematic attacks on peaceful protesters, and the killing of protesters as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute. SERAP therefore believes that the widespread and systemic nature of the problem fits the legal requirements of violence against the Nigerian people and crime against humanity.”

“SERAP therefore urged the ICC to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of attacks on protesters, with a view to determining whether these amount to violence against the Nigerian people and crime against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction. In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government, the military to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude since available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation;

“Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for widespread and systematic attacks on peaceful protesters across the country;

“Urge the Nigerian government to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of the widespread and systematic crime of violence against peaceful protesters, testimony, and provide other support to the ICC;

“Compel the Nigerian authorities to ensure that Nigerians are afforded their right to life, dignity, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and ensure reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition,” the petition read in part.

 

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