Freedom House Condemns Wave of Violence in Nigeria | Freedom House

Freedom House Condemns Wave of Violence in Nigeria

Washington

Freedom House strongly condemns the recent violence in Nigeria, which includes attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram, as well as reported torture and extrajudicial killings by Nigerian state security forces, and calls on both sides to cease hostilities and take concrete measures to ensure the safety of civilians.

On May 7, Boko Haram raided a prison compound in northeast Nigeria, killing an estimated 55 people and freeing approximately 105 inmates. This attack presents a continuation of Boko Haram's campaign of terror targeting state and security officials. In the group’s quest to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state with Sharia law, the majority of the victims have been citizens. Boko Haram has been in conflict with the Nigerian government since 2009.

“Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigerians for half a decade. While this situation grows increasingly alarming and must be stopped, there are no conditions, including the fight against terrorism, under which it is acceptable to target civilians,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “Nigerian authorities must conduct a thorough investigation on the most recent attack in Baga and hold accountable any official found to have been involved in attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses.”

The Nigerian military and police forces have responded to this campaign of terror with increasingly brutal tactics, most of which they adamantly deny. On April 19, Human Rights Watch reported that the Nigerian military attacked the northern town of Baga (in response to a Boko Haram attack which killed a single soldier), leaving approximately 200 civilians dead and 2,275 buildings destroyed. The Nigerian military denied destroying the homes, blaming it on Boko Haram, while residents of Baga have reported seeing soldiers beat and kill residents and set fire to homes.

Since the conflict began in 2009, approximately 4,000 people have died and thousands more have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed. This reflects a larger trend of civilians bearing the disproportionate brunt of the violence committed by both sides.  In May 2013, morgue workers in northern Nigeria reported receiving a daily average of 14 to 15 bodies of suspected militants killed by security forces, with the vast majority showing signs of torture, starvation and extreme neglect. The workers have expressed concern that many are civilians arbitrarily accused of being militants. 

Nigeria is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013 and Freedom on the Net 2012.

For more information on Nigeria, visit:

Freedom in the World 2013: Nigeria

Freedom of the Press 2012 :Nigeria

Freedom on the Net 2012 : Nigeria

Countries at the Crossroads 2012 : Nigeria

Blog : Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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