Nigerian government declares state of emergency in northeast; cites insurgency by terrorist groups

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High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

A state of emergency has been declared in the three north eastern states of the country with the government citing the rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which, it says, pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement has urged the Nigerian Government to ensure the regime of safeguards set out in international human rights law and that it is respected during its emergency operations.

Spokesperson for the Human Rights Office Rupert Colville says the high commissioner has repeatedly condemned the terrorist groups in the northeastern states of the country.

” The high commissioner has repeatedly condemned the "cowardly attacks by Boko Haram which have targeted civilians and politicians, members of government institutions, security forces and foreign nationals. The High Commissioner has also noted that members of Boko Haram and other groups and entities, if judged to have committed widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population – including on grounds such as religion or ethnicity — could be found guilty of crimes against humanity.”

Colville says deliberate acts leading to population "cleansing" on grounds of religion or ethnicity could also amount to a crime against humanity.

He says they're also calling on the Nigerian government to make sure its efforts to achieve security are in full compliance with human rights principles. And they urge security forces and the military to respect human rights, and avoid excessive use of force when conducting operations, as these can too easily feed local resentment, especially when civilians are killed or have their property damaged.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’30″


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