[JURIST] The Nigeria-based Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (SERAP) [advocacy website] has submitted a letter [text, DOC] to International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] requesting an inquiry into the spate of religious violence [BBC report] that erupted in the city of Jos in January. SERAP lawyers argue that the ICC should investigate alleged unlawful killings and other human rights abuses that took place in violation of the ICC's Rome Statute [text]. The letter, dated last week, specifically calls upon the ICC to take the following action:
1. Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of the unlawful killing of at least 326 people and other crimes committed during the violence in Jos this month, with a view to determining whether these amount to crimes against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction. …
2. Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for crimes against humanity in Jos.
3. Urge the Nigerian government to fulfil [sic] its obligations under Article 86 of the Rome Statute to cooperate; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Jos, take testimony, and provide other support to the ICC.
Violence between Muslims and Christians in Jos claimed at least 326 lives in January. Jos is located between Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. Riots also took place in Jos in 2001 and 2008. While most Jos Christians back the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), the majority of Muslims back the opposition All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP). SERAP allegations that the Nigerian government is unable to meet its obligations to protect human rights have compounded the country's existing political turmoil [JURIST report], as ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC profile] is out of the country receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.