Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Monday on Nigerian officials to release children detained in connection with Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
In September 2019 HRW reported that the Nigerian military has arbitrarily detaining thousands of children for their alleged involvement with Boko Haram. HRW reported that more than 3,600 children were detained by Nigerian armed forces between January 2013 and March 2019. Between January 2017 and December 2019, 1,591 children were released from detention facilities. The current number of children in detention facilities is unknown.
The UN Security Council issued a directive on Friday that strongly condemned “all violations and abuses committed against children by all parties to the conflict in Nigeria.” The directive also expressed concern and condemned Boko Haram’s recruitment and use of children. The council called for the immediate release of children from military detention for their alleged association with Boko Haram.
On Monday, HRW similarly called upon Nigerian officials to stop jailing children for their alleged ties to Boko Haram.
HRW children’s rights advocacy director Jo Becker stated:
Many children have been detained with no evidence of Boko Haram involvement, while for others, detention only adds to the suffering they’ve already experienced from Boko Haram. Nigerian security forces should release any remaining children and immediately sign a handover protocol to ensure that children victimized by Boko Haram receive the help they need.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also said Friday that she intends to investigate possible crimes committed during Boko Haram’s Nigerian insurgency.