[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that it has obtained video footage, images and testimonies showing evidence of “gruesome” war crimes committed by Nigerian Military personnel. The alleged atrocities are occurring in northeastern Nigeria and are the result of a protracted conflict between the country’s military and Boko Haram [CFR backgrounder], a group that rejects Western concepts and is pushing to establish Nigeria as an Islamic state. AI says the new images and testimonials reveal shocking human rights violations such as deadly village raids, executions and mass burials carried out by the Nigerian military, state-sponsored militias and Boko Haram. AI condemned the behavior, which has killed more than 4,000 people, mostly civilians, this year alone, stating it expects better “from a country which sees itself as having a leadership role in Africa.” The fighting prompted Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan [official profile] to declare a state of emergency in May 2013. The conflict has intensified recently in the northeast affecting smaller towns and villages. Last month, Damboa in Borna state became the first town to come under full control of Boko Haram.
Several international organizations and rights groups have routinely condemned the violence and atrocities occurring in Nigeria. In May, the UN criticized [JURIST report] Boko Haram for kidnapping more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April with the intention of selling them and “marry[ing] them off.” In March AI published [JURIST report] a report denouncing the extremists and security forces for committing war crimes, often against civilians, and urged the parties to abide by several applicable international human rights charters, covenants and courts as well as the humanitarian stance of the UN. In October 2013 AI pressed [JURIST report] the Nigerian government to investigate the alleged death of over 950 detainees in military custody, mostly in facilities used to detain members of Boko Haram. Also in October 2013 the Nigerian Socio-Economic and Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) [official website] filed [JURIST report] a petition with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] endorsing an investigation into the killing of 43 college students and their teachers, reportedly by Boko Haram. The ICC has been vocal [JURIST report] in its accusations of war crimes committed by Boko Haram and has been assessing [JURIST report] whether Nigerian authorities are proceeding properly in response to the crimes. In 2012 Human Rights Watch and the UN also voiced [JURIST reports] grave concern over the violence and human rights abuses occurring in Nigeria.