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Nigerian army sets up office to handle human rights violations

[JURIST] The Nigerian army on Saturday set up a human rights office at its headquarters in the capital city of Abuja in order to continue training officers about respecting rights of citizens. This comes in light of the country's ongoing battle against the insurgent Islamic group Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder], as well as other terrorist groups. The announcement comes after [Voice of America report] high-ranking officials of the army, including army chief of staff Tukur Buratai, met with Amnesty International regarding their recent report [document, PDF] on the country's human rights violations. The report accused the Nigerian army of "gross human rights violations" in the fight against Boko Haram. The report noted, "Torture and other ill-treatment by the police and security forces was widespread. A law criminalizing marriage or civil union and public displays of affection between same-sex couples came into force. Freedom of expression was restricted. The death penalty continued to be applied."

The militant Islamic group Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin," has been fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government in the interest of creating an Islamist state. Earlier this month UN human rights experts urged [JURIST report] the Nigerian government to guarantee the safety of areas liberated from Boko Haram. In November the UN Secretary-General condemned [JURIST report] yet another attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria that left 30 dead and approximately 80 injured. In April UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein reported [JURIST report] that Boko Haram militants in Nigeria have been murdering women and girls previously taken captive by the group. The group has been increasing the intensity and frequency of its attacks [JURIST report] ever since it lost most of the territory it overtook earlier this year to the Nigerian army. Most of these attacks have centered around markets, bus stations, places of worship and hit-and-run attacks on villages.

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