Aug. 6, 2013
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted the Boko Haram sect, saying that there is reason to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Nigeria, namely murder and persecution by the sect.
A report issued by the Office of the Prosecutor’s Fatou Bensouda yesterday found that the group has, since July 2009, “launched a widespread and systematic attack that has resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 Christian and Muslim civilians in different locations throughout Nigeria.
“The scale and intensity of the attacks have increased over time,” said the report based on preliminary information through December 2012.
The ICC stated in a news release that it is now assessing whether the national authorities are conducting genuine proceedings in relation “to those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, and the gravity of such crimes”.
After analyses of all available information, the Office of the Prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Nigeria, namely acts of murder and persecution attributed to Boko Haram, a militant group operating mainly in north-eastern Nigeria. The Office of the Prosecutor is now assessing whether the national authorities are conducting genuine proceedings in relation to those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, and the gravity of such crimes. The assessment of jurisdictional issues with respect to other groups in Nigeria will continue.
The Report is based on information gathered by the Office up to December 2012. It relates to one the four phases in the Prosecutor’s preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria, namely phase 2. Only after completion of all phases the Prosecutor will make a determination whether a fully-fledged investigation is warranted.
For more information please see the Article 5 Report on the situation of Nigeria.
Background: The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for determining whether a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute – the Court’s founding treaty – to warrant an investigation by the International Criminal Court. For this purpose, the Office analyses of all situations brought to its attention based on the information available and statutory criteria, including: jurisdiction (temporal, material, and either territorial or personal jurisdiction); admissibility (complementarity and gravity); and the interests of justice. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently conducting preliminary examinations in eight situations. More information on preliminary examinations can be found here.
Office of the Prosecutor
It added that the prosecutor is still assessing three other phases of the situation in Nigeria, and, once completed, will decide if a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute – the Court’s founding treaty – to warrant an investigation by the ICC.
During the timeframe of the report, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) repeatedly warned Boko Haram against attacks on civilians.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May to fight Boko Haram. Related anti-insurgent operations and general insecurity have uprooted thousands of people in north-eastern Nigeria, with more than 6,000 of them fleeing to neighbouring Niger for safety, the UN High commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) reported in June.
Located in the Hague, in the Netherlands, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – if national authorities with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely. –Leadership