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Human Rights Watch urges Nigeria to free children detained over Boko Haram ties3 min read

According to the UN, 3,600 children are believed to have been detained between January 2013 and March 2019

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Human Rights Watch urges Nigeria to free children detained over Boko Haram ties

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged Nigeria to release thousands of children detained by the military over suspected links with Boko Haram.

The US-based global watchdog said in a 50-page report released in Abuja that thousands of children are being arbitrarily detained in degrading and inhuman conditions in military cells, particularly at Giwa barracks in the restive northeastern city of Maiduguri.

“Many children are held without charge for months or years in squalid and severely overcrowded military barracks, with no contact with the outside world,” it said.

According to the United Nations, 3,600 children, including 1,617 girls, are believed to have been detained between January 2013 and March 2019 for suspected involvement with non-state armed groups.

“Children are being detained in horrific conditions for years, with little or no evidence of involvement with Boko Haram, and without even being taken to court,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW. 

“Many of these children already survived attacks by Boko Haram. The authorities’ cruel treatment adds to their suffering and victimizes them further,” he said.

Becker conceded the country was facing “formidable challenges from the Boko Haram insurgency, but detaining thousands of children is not the answer”.

He said children affected by the conflict need rehabilitation and schooling, not prison.

The decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria by Boko Haram has killed more than 27,000 people, displaced some two million, and spilt over into neighbouring countries, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region.

Sign UN protocol –

HRW asked the Nigerian government to sign a UN protocol that would ensure the transfer of the affected children to child protection authorities for rehabilitation, family reunification, and community reintegration.

“If military or intelligence authorities have credible evidence of criminal offences by children, they should transfer them to civilian judicial authorities to be treated in accordance with national and international juvenile justice standards,” it said.

It said that in June it interviewed 32 children detained at Giwa barracks who said they were not taken to court, as required by law.

“None were aware of any charges against them. One was detained when he was only five years old,” it said. 

It said the children were arrested during military operations, security sweeps, screening procedures for internally displaced people, and based on information from informants. 

“Many of the children said they were arrested after fleeing Boko Haram attacks on their village or while seeking refuge at camps for internally displaced people,” it added.

“One said he was arrested and detained for more than two years for allegedly selling yams to Boko Haram members,” it said, adding that several abducted girls were also forced to marry Boko Haram fighters.

“Approximately one-third of the children interviewed said security forces beat them during interrogation after their arrest at Giwa barracks. 

One girl who was forced to marry a Boko Haram member, said that after soldiers captured her, “the soldiers were beating us with their belts, calling us names and telling us they will deal with us because we are Boko Haram wives.” 

Others said they were beaten if they denied association with Boko Haram, the report said.

Local and international rights bodies have accused Nigerian security forces of arbitrary arrests, detention and summary executions of Boko Haram suspects.

The security forces have repeatedly denied the charges.

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Libya airstrike leaves about 7 dead, 30 wounded

At least seven civilians were killed, most of them foreign workers, and 30 wounded in an airstrike on Monday

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Libya airstrike leaves about 7 dead, 30 wounded
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / This picture taken on November 18, 2019 shows the aftermath of a reported air strike on a factory south of the Libyan capital Tripoli where several people were killed according to a spokesman of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

At least seven civilians were killed, most of them foreign workers, and 30 wounded in an airstrike on Monday that hit a biscuit factory in southern Tripoli, Libya’s health ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Amin al-Hachemi told reporters that two Libyans and nationals from Bangladesh, Egypt and Niger died when the factory in Wadi Rabi took a direct hit, with foreign workers also accounting for the 30 wounded.

The suburb has been at the centre of an assault launched in April by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces to wrest control of the capital from fighters loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

Libya airstrike leaves about 7 dead, 30 wounded
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / This picture taken on November 18, 2019 shows the aftermath of a reported air strike on a factory south of the Libyan capital Tripoli where several people were killed according to a spokesman of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

Pro-GNA forces, on their Facebook page, charged that the raid was carried out by United Arab Emirates drones in support of Haftar, from whose camp there was no immediate reaction.

The military strongman is backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, while Turkey and Qatar back his rival, the United Nations-recognised GNA.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The battle for Tripoli, which has come to a standstill on the ground after initial advances by Haftar’s forces, has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced about 120,000 others, according to the UN.

The United States last week urged Haftar to call off his offensive and accused Russia of working to exploit Libya’s latest conflict.

“The United States calls on the ‘Libyan National Army’ to end its offensive on Tripoli,” a joint statement said after a GNA delegation held talks in Washington, referring to Haftar’s self-styled LNA.

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / This picture taken on November 18, 2019 in the Libyan town of Tajura, about 14 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli, shows the bodies of victims who were killed a reported air strike at a location south of Tripoli according to a spokesman of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

“This will facilitate further US-Libya cooperation to prevent undue foreign interference, reinforce legitimate state authority and address the issues underlying the conflict,” the statement added.

The US also “underscored support for Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s attempts to exploit the conflict against the will of the Libyan people”.

Western powers have sent mixed signals, with France and Italy welcoming Haftar for visits and US President Donald Trump earlier this year hailing his role in “fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources”.

But the US has since distanced itself from the field marshal and joined calls for a ceasefire.

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Task force recovers lion owned by Indian in Lagos

The unusual pet was said to belong to an Indian national who rented an apartment in the building at Victoria Island

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Task force recovers lion owned by Indian in Lagos
Photo of the recovered Lion

Operatives of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit have recovered a lion sighted in a building in Lagos, Nigeria.

The officials were deployed in the house where the lion was kept on Friday following petitions from residents who expressed worry over the presence of the carnivore.

The lion, which was a cub was finally found in a house at 229 Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island.

The unusual pet was said to belong to an Indian national who rented an apartment in the building at 229 Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island.

The head of the Task Force team, Mr. Yinka Egbeyemi, said that he was instructed by the Commissioner for Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture to tranquilise the animal on Monday. Mr Egbeyemi disclosed the plan to move the cub to a zoo.

According to Egbeyemi, the Indian owner may also face prosecution to explain how he brought the lion into the state.

“The lion was found on No. 229 Muri Okunola Street. Our Black Maria and men have been there since Friday. They will remove the animal on Monday. The Indian man rented the apartment and lied to the owner of the house that he wanted to be staying there. He claimed that the house was under renovation and brought the animal there.”

 The neighbours saw the thing and that was how we got a petition from them.

“We have sent him a letter that he should come and talk to us. So, by tomorrow (Monday), we will like to know how he got the animal.”

“He will have to tell us why he is rearing a lion in a city; that is a wild animal and anything can happen. So, he may be prosecuted,” Mr Egbeyemi said.

Interestingly, all nerves have been calmed as the highly-dangerous animal was evacuated from the Indian national’s apartment on Monday afternoon.

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Scotland set to face world champions Springboks

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Scotland set to face world champions Springboks

Scotland is set to be the first opponents of new world champions, South Africa, with Tests in the republic on July 4 and 11.

Although SA Rugby has not confirmed who they will host in a mid-year series, a source told reporters that “Scotland is coming for two matches during July”. 

South Africa have won 22 Tests and lost five against Scotland and the last meeting, in Edinburgh a year ago, ended 26-20 in favour of the Springboks.

Scotland set to face world champions Springboks
South African Rugby captain Siya Kolisi (C) holds the Web Ellis Trophy during the South African Rugby World Cup winner team’s last stop to parade the Web Ellis Trophy at the Cape Town City Hall in Cape Town, on November 11, 2019. (Photo by David Harrison / AFP)

Traditionally, mid-year visitors to South Africa play three Tests, but Scotland cannot do so as they face New Zealand in Dunedin on July 18.

Read: Springboks celebrate World Cup victory at legendary Mandela site

It is understood SA Rugby want to play another team on July 18 as they seek to cash in on the popularity of the team that beat England 32-12 this month in the Rugby World Cup final.

“The Springboks can fill any stadium in South Africa twice over right now and, ideally, it would be another six nations team,” the source said. 

All the six nations drawcards have arranged July 4 and 11 Tests with England facing Japan, Wales meeting New Zealand, Ireland playing Australia and France tackling Argentina.

But none of the four touring teams has announced a July 18 opponent, creating the possibility that one of them could play a one-off Test in South Africa.

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