The UN rights chief on Friday denounced rights abuses by both Boko Haram Islamists and the Nigerian military and asked the country’s new president to punish offenders.
“Civilians in northeast Nigeria have been living through horrifying acts of cruelty and violence by Boko Haram. These include wanton killings, summary executions, forced participation in military operations –- including the use of children to detonate bombs, forced labour, forced marriage and sexual violence, including rape,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
Video: Stars on Their Shoulders. Blood on their Hands: War Crimes Committed by the Nigerian Military – Amnesty International
But there were equally alarming reports of flagrant violations by the Nigerian military in its crackdown against the group, he said, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari “to take urgent measures to bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, whether non-State or State actors.”
The new Nigerian leader, who took office last week, has made the fight against Boko Haram a priority, vowing to rid his country of “the terror” of the Islamist fighters.
Zeid said there were witness accounts of how Boko Haram amputated the hands of children suspected of theft, gathered villagers ostensibly on the pretext of staging a mass sermon and then mowed them down with bullets, and stoned to death a man “on accusations of fornication.”
On the government side, there were reports of people being detained for up to five days without food or water for suspected Boko Haram links.
“We have continued to receive reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and summary executions as well as of a failure to ensure the protection of civilians during counter-insurgency operations,” he said.
Zeid also called for a probe into “deeply disturbing allegations that thousands of people have died or have been killed while being held in detention in state institutions.”
“This is crucial to ensure that the victims of Boko Haram crimes are not doubly victimised by their own government,” he said.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed at least 15,000 people since 2009 and has now spilled over to countries neighbouring Nigeria.
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