ICC Seeks to Probe Boko Haram Crimes in Nigeria

International Criminal Court, The Hague has said it will probe crimes committed by Boko Haram and Nigerian security agencies..

Bensouda on Friday said her office has enough reasonable evidence to believe Boko Haram terrorists and its splinter groups have committed war crimes.

While she said most of the crimes were committed by non-state actors, she said there is evidence of the involvement of Nigeria’s security agencies in some of these atrocities.

These war crimes included rape; torture; sexual slavery; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; taking of hostages; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance; intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed groups and using them to participate actively in hostilities; persecution on gender and religious grounds; and other inhumane acts.

The Prosecutor said having undergone a thorough process in its preliminary investigation, her office needs the approval of the ICC to conduct a final investigation.

“These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by my Office, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. My Office will provide further details in our forthcoming annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities,” she said.

“The preliminary examination has been lengthy not because of the findings on crimes – indeed, as early as 2013, the Office announced its findings on crimes in Nigeria, which have been updated regularly since.

“The duration of the preliminary examination, open since 2010, was due to the priority given by my Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting these crimes domestically.

“As we move towards the next steps concerning the situation in Nigeria, I count on the full support of the Nigerian authorities, as well as of the Assembly of States Parties more generally, on whose support the Court ultimately depends.

“And as we look ahead to future investigations in the independent and impartial exercise of our mandate, I also look forward to a constructive and collaborative exchange with the Government of Nigeria to determine how justice may best be served under the shared framework of complementary domestic and international action.”

Since 2003, the ICC has been conducting investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Ivory Coast and Mali where terrorism, politics-mediated conflicts and militancy have held sway for some time.

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