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Rights group urges Nigeria acting president to remedy abuses

[JURIST] Nigerian acting President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile] must take action to "tackle the culture of impunity" in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said in a letter [text] dated Friday. HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth called on Jonathan to address rights abuses left unaddressed during the two-and-a-half-year term of the Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC profile] presidency. Specifically, the letter highlighted "endemic corruption, inter-communal violence, abuses by state security forces, and the crisis in the Niger Delta." The letter stated in part:

The two and a half years of the Yar'Adua presidency have seen a disappointing rate of progress, if not significant setbacks, in addressing these concerns. You have the chance to do better. Not only has the Nigerian government undermined efforts to tackle widespread corruption, but government security forces continue to commit serious abuses, such as extrajudicial killings and torture, with impunity. Promising initiatives that were undertaken by the Yar'Adua administration, such as police and electoral reform, have yet to translate into any tangible policy changes. Meanwhile, the government's 2009 amnesty plan for the Niger Delta has failed to address the root causes of the violence and instability - corruption and mismanagement of oil wealth and the arming of criminal gangs by ruling-party politicians.

HRW also urged the government to hold accountable those responsible for recent sectarian violence that took place in the city of Jos.

HRW's letter comes days after Jonathan assumed the presidency [JURIST report] in place of ailing president Yar'Adua. Yar'Adua, who suffers from a heart condition [AP report], was taken to a hospital in Saudi Arabia in November and has not been seen in public since then. While HRW has called on Jonathan directly, other rights groups have petitioned international authorities to take action to prevent recurring rights abuses. Earlier this month, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) [advocacy website] called for [JURIST report] an International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] investigation into the violence that took place in Jos in January. The ICC is considering [JURIST report] the petition.

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