[JURIST] Amnesty International urged [AI report] Cameroon Friday to end the six month detention of 84 children being held after a raid on Quranic schools. AI reports that some of the children were as young as five years old. The children remained detained in a children’s center in Maroua even after being charged with no crimes. The government charged the teachers of the Quranic schools of running terrorist training camps for the Nigeria-based group Boko Haram. The raid is part of Cameroon governments on-going battle against the terrorist group. Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International deputy regional director for West and Central Africa stated “Detaining young children will do nothing to protect Cameroonians living under the threat of Boko Haram.” AI has urged Cameroon to immediately release any children under the age of 15 to their parents and ensure a fair trial for any other’s associated with the raid.
Boko Haram [JURIST news archive], which means “Western education is a sin,” has been fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government in the interest of creating an Islamist state. Last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that Boko Haram had forced kidnapped women and girls to marry their captors and began using them for military tactical purposes. Boko Haram was criticized [JURIST report] in May by the UN after it claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April and announced plans to sell and “marry them off.” US President Obama promised to send resources for investigatory purposes, sharply criticizing the perpetrators and calling Boko Haram “one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations … in Nigeria.” However, Boko Haram’s actions have caused other extrinsic problems as well. In March Amnesty International released a report finding that some responses by Nigerian security forces to attacks by Boko Haram have themselves been in conflict with human rights standards [JURIST report]. Earlier in March former UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay called on [JURIST report] the Nigerian government to focus on protecting human rights and not to “exacerbate” violence in its response to attacks by Boko Haram. In August of 2013 the International Criminal Court expressed its finding [JURIST report] that there existed a “reasonable basis” to believe that Boko Haram was guilty of crimes against humanity.