Johannesburg- The African Union (AU) has urged Nigeria to rein on the country’s security forces who are accused of human rights violations during missions to counter terrorism.
This follows yet another caution by the US’ secretary of state John Kerry, who urged the government troops to remain disciplined in latest offensive against Islamic Boko Haram terrorists where more than 500 people are believed to have been killed with an estimated 2 000 others fleeing their homes for safety.
Other human rights groups such as the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also accused the Nigeria state security forces of violence, harassment and killing of innocent civilians as the military personnel pursued the Boko Haram terrorists.
Responding to questions from CAJ News, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi,said while Nigeria had the right to defend itself from the acts of terrorism, that should be done within compliance with human rights regulations.
“We believe firmly at the Union (AU) that Nigeria has the right to defend itself against any insurgence threatening the country's north.
"The caution which is within our ambit and which we have called for is on human rights violations allegedly committed by security forces. The President of Nigeria (Goodluck Jonathan) has admitted that some mistakes were made and they will be redressed accordingly,” Dr Abdullahi said.
He also noted that the issue of insurgency in Nigeria was currently still viewed as a domestic affair which the country’s leadership had continually assured the African Union and the international community that it was handling with all seriousness.
"We are of course concerned about the situation but we remain confident that the measures being taken by the Government of Nigeria is yielding positive results already.
"This is evident in the recent release of suspected Boko Haram suspects who are mostly women and children in the troubled states," Dr Abdullahi said.
Observers say Nigeria’s human rights record remains poor arguing that government officials at all levels, including security services committed these violations, killings and harassment of both women and children with impunity.
- CAJ News