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Shekau could face trial for war crimes, says ICC

Shekau could face trial for war crimes, says ICC
May 13
12:19 2014

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said that the Chibok abductions “could constitute crimes that fall within the jurisdiction” of the tribunal.

The statement was issued on Tuesday by the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

Over 200 girls were kidnapped on April14/15 by the Boko Haram sect, and its leader Abubakar Shekau has said he would not release the girls until the group’s members in detention are released by the Nigerian government.

Fatou said: “I am deeply troubled and alarmed by disturbing reports of alleged abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Borno State, Nigeria, and the most recent reports that more schoolgirls have been abducted this week.  Such acts shock the conscience of humanity and could constitute crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

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“I share the agonizing pain of the parents of the abducted girls, as well as their hope that the on-going national search and rescue efforts will result in the swift and safe return of their children.  International assistance should be made readily available to bolster such efforts, as required by the national authorities.

“The troubling phenomenon of targeting females during conflict, this time, in Borno State, cannot be tolerated and must be stopped.  No stone should be left unturned to bring those responsible for such atrocious acts to justice either in Nigeria or at the ICC.

“I express my solidarity with the families of the abducted girls and the people of Nigeria.  The abducted schoolgirls must be released immediately and allowed to return unharmed to their communities and families.”

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The Nigerian situation has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in the last three years.

In August last year, ICC issued a report concluding that there is a reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram “has been committing crimes against humanity of murder and persecution since July 2009”.

There has been a sharp increase in the frequency and intensity of attacks attributed to Boko Haram since January 2014, ICC noted, including a significant rise in alleged abductions of women and girls and sexual slavery.

Some of Boko Haram’s alleged misdeeds would also amount to war crimes, as the prosecutor has recently concluded that the situation constitutes a non-international armed conflict, it said.

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ICC is waiting for the Nigerian government to initiate prosecution because the primary responsibility lies in the government, but it said it is “currently assessing relevant national proceedings in conformity with the principle of complementarity”.

Such cases may become admissible before the ICC if there are no relevant investigations or prosecutions in Nigeria, or if the national authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigations or prosecutions, it said.

Boko Haram has been classified as a terrorist organisation by Nigeria, the US and the UK, while both Nigeria and the US are asking the United Nations to follow suit.

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