Nige­rian sol­diers tor­tured, killed thou­sands, report says

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­times.com Twit­ter: @robyn­dixon_LAT

JO­HAN­NES­BURG, South Africa — Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary was re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of more than 8,000 peo­ple in its bat­tle against Boko Haram mil­i­tants, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional charged Wed­nes­day in a report.

About 1,200 peo­ple have fallen vic­tim to ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions since Fe­bru­ary 2012, and about 7,000 have died of mis­treat­ment in de­ten­tion since March 2011, ac­cord­ing to the report.

Some starved to death. Oth­ers died of thirst or suf­fo­cated to death in poorly ven­ti­lated cells jammed with prison­ers. And some died when sol­diers fu­mi­gated the cells with mos­quito poi­son, the report said.

Amnesty called for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of se­nior com­man­ders for pos­si­ble war crimes, in­clud­ing mur­der, tor­ture and en­forced dis­ap­pear­ances.

“The hun­dreds of uniden­ti­fied bod­ies, the ev­i­dence of mass graves and the har­row­ing sto­ries of star­va­tion and abuse com­ing out of the coun­try’s mil­i­tary bar­racks de­mand noth­ing less than an ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion and for those re­spon­si­ble to be brought to jus­tice,” Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Salil Shetty said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

The report was the prod­uct of a four-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing hun­dreds of leaked mil­i­tary doc­u­ments and in­ter­views with more than 400 wit­nesses, vic­tims, doc­tors, se­nior mil­i­tary per­son­nel and oth­ers, Amnesty said.

Ac­cord­ing to the report, “se­nior of­fi­cials of the Nige­rian mil­i­tary had full knowl­edge of the ar­bi­trary de­ten­tions and high rates of deaths and fail­ure to take ac­tion to stop these hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.”

Since 2009, at least 20,000 men and boys, some as young as 9, have been ar­rested in the northeast on sus­pi­cion of be­ing Boko Haram mem­bers, of­ten swept up ran­domly in raids, with­out ad­e­quate in­ves­ti­ga­tion or ev­i­dence against them, ac­cord­ing to Amnesty.

A se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cial gave Amnesty a list of 683 de­tainees who had died at what the report termed the most no­to­ri­ous de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity, the Giwa bar­racks in Maiduguri, over a five­month pe­riod be­gin­ning in Oc­to­ber 2012. The of­fi­cial es­ti­mated that close to 5,000 peo­ple had died there since the be­gin­ning of 2013.

Amnesty said it had ob­tained 90 videos show­ing mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces and al­lied mili­ti­a­men com­mit­ting abuses. The report con­tained im­ages of Nige­rian sol­diers beat­ing men with large sticks, or walk­ing on the backs of prison­ers ly­ing on their stom­achs.

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