Sex Slavery: How Soldiers, Civilian JTF Rape Women, Girls In N’East – AI

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  • Presidency: Amnesty Int’l Report Short Of Evidential Narration

By Augustine Osayande, Abuja

In a damning report, Amnesty International has accused Nigerian soldiers and members of Civilian JTF of using force and threats to rape women and girls in various Internal Displaced Person camps in the North East.

The International human Wright watch-dog also reported that soldiers and Civilian JTF are taking advantage of the IDPs conditions to coerce women into becoming their “girlfriends”, which involved being available for sex.

This was disclosed in the International human Wright watch-dog report “They Betrayed Us: Women who survived Boko Haram Raped, Starved and Detained In Nigeria” released on Thursday.

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“Amnesty International has documented patterns of rape and sexual exploitation occurring in the satellite camps from late 2015 until the present. Scores of women (and some men) described how soldiers and Civilian JTF members commonly used force and threats to rape women and girls, and took advantage of the conditions to coerce women into becoming their “girlfriends”, which involved being available for sex on an ongoing basis.

“Nine women reported cases of rape to Amnesty International. This included five women who told Amnesty International that they had been raped by soldiers or Civilian JTF members while they had been starving or near starving in Bama Hospital camp in late 2015 or early 2016. Amnesty International also received recent reports of rape or attempted rape in the camp. Ten additional women reported that they had been coerced to become the “girlfriend” to a soldier or the Civilian JTF in Bama Hospital/Secondary school camp” part of the report read.

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The international organization added that women and girls in various IDPs camps were rape and pressured to become the “girlfriend in order to access basic goods needed for survival or to overcome hunger.

It also said that the coercive environment that was created and taken advantage of by the soldiers and Civilian JTF meant that consent to sex was not possible.

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“Women interviewed have also described how soldiers and Civilian JTF created an organized system to inflict sexual violence in Bama Hospital and Secondary School camps. The Civilian JTF members select women in the camp and take them to soldiers for sex. Four women said that the layout of Bama Secondary School camp was designed to make sexual exploitation easier, by separating young women from their in-laws and other people in the camp. Women have said that if they complain, they risk being called a “Boko Haram wife” and facing reprisals.

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“The Soldiers and Civilian JTF members who used force, or created or took advantage of coercive circumstances, to have sex with women in the camps have committed the crime of rape. Because of the circumstances in which these crimes were committed, those responsible may have committed the war crime and crime against humanity of rape. If the Civilian JTF members benefited through selecting and taking women to soldiers for sex, such as being rewarded by the soldiers involved, they may also have committed the crime against humanity of enforced prostitution” the report added.The International human Wright watch-dog further stated that thousands were confined in satellite camps.

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“At least hundreds of women and girls have also been detained on arrival in the recaptured towns or during military operations and detained in deplorable conditions in Giwa barracks in Maiduguri.
None of the women released from detention that Amnesty International interviewed had ever been charged with a crime, or given any opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in front of a judge, or knew of any other women detained with them who had been.

The vast majority had spent between six months and two years in detention. The few who were given any reason were told they were detained because they were a “Boko Haram wife” without any further explanation.

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“These detentions are arbitrary under international human rights law and are not permitted by international humanitarian law. The detention conditions also breached a number of international humanitarian law and international human rights law standards. Individuals responsible for detaining women and girls in Giwa barracks and administering their detention may have committed the war crimes and crimes against humanity of detention, murder, and torture and other ill-treatment” the report said.

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The organization recommended that the Nigerian federal and Borno state governments, with the support of donors, UN humanitarian agencies and NGOs, must urgently increase the food assistance to IDPs in the north-east, including to those currently located in the satellite camps, and efforts to ensure that the food provided reaches all intended beneficiaries.  It also added that the federal and Borno state government must immediately close all unofficial and secret places of detention facilities such as Giwa barracks and Bama prison.

“They must also ensure that the amount of food assistance provided, the type of assistance provided and the distribution mechanisms used are appropriate and accessible for all IDPs including female-headed households.

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“The federal and Borno state governments must immediately close all unofficial and secret places of detention facilities such as Giwa barracks and Bama prison. All detainees must be transferred to civilian custody, where they must be released unless they are charged with a recognisable criminal offence and given a fair trial” the report said.

Meanwhile, the Presidency in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President Media and Publicity Garba Shehu said the report released by the Amnesty International alleging human rights violation by Nigerian security agencies is inherently battling with credibility, falling vehemently short of evidential narration.

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“It is short on credibility because it does not contain factual leads that could have laid the foundation for investigative actions. Findings are attributed to people but proper description of such people constituting the source of information is not provided.
“Engagement was claimed to have been made with Nigerian authorities but which authority is it, is not provided with clarity. This then is just a wild goose chase report, in essence” Shehu said.
The Presidential spokesman added that the report seemed like the one in 2015, and the one in 2016, and the one after that year, the same things being recycled again and again. “It ignores the fact of the existing mechanisms put in place by the military, as a self-correcting step and the high-level committee constituted by the Presidency to examine any such claims. Over this period of time, the Nigerian military had indeed established cases of abuse and punishments meted out from Orderly Room trials and Court Martials that resulted in losses of rank, dismissals, and trials and convictions by civil courts” Shehu added.

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