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Over 1,531 deaths caused by farmer-herder conflicts, insurgency in 2020 – Amnesty International


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AMNESTY International claims that more than 1,531 people died in inter-communal violence mostly between herdsmen and farming communities, as well as in attacks by bandits, in the North-Central and North-Western regions of Nigeria.

This was contained in its 2020 Annual Report released on Wednesday.

The report says more than 420 civilians died in around 45 attacks launched in Nigeria’s Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, disclosing that Boko Haram continues to recruit child soldiers.

Amnesty International also berates the Nigerian government for failing to “promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses” or bring suspected perpetrators to justice.

The report notes that no genuine steps were taken to investigate or prosecute crimes under international law committed by Boko Haram or the Nigerian military in the context of the conflict in the North-East.

“In Nigeria, brutal policing has resulted in security forces killing people for protesting in the streets, demanding their rights and calling for accountability. Both the armed group Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces continued to commit serious crimes in the north-east, including war crimes and likely crimes against humanity,” the report says in part.

“Government forces carried out indiscriminate attacks against villages and continued to detain thousands in inhumane conditions. Everywhere, excessive use of force resulting in unlawful killings, and torture and other ill-treatment were widespread,” it further alleges.

The report notes that such violations were prevalent in the context of enforcing COVID-19 measures and between 30 March and 13 April 2020, saying that least 18 people were killed by the Nigerian Correctional Service, the Police and the military.

In addition, Amnesty International notes a rising number of abductions and other crimes in Nigeria targeted at women and girls. Citing official statistics, it says over 3,600 rape cases were recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown. Barakat Bello, aged 18, and Uwaila Omozuwa, aged 22, were raped and killed in separate incidents in May and June of last year, the report further says.

As for the response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the report paints a dismal picture of the failures of global leaders whose handling of the pandemic has been marked by opportunism and total contempt for human rights.

Amnesty International says world leaders “ruthlessly exploited the crisis and weaponized COVID-19 to launch fresh attacks on human rights.”

“COVID-19 has brutally exposed and deepened inequality both within and between countries, and highlighted the staggering disregard our leaders have for our shared humanity.  Decades of divisive policies, misguided austerity measures, and choices by leaders not to invest in crumbling public infrastructure, have left too many easy prey to this virus,” says Amnesty International’s new Secretary General Agnès Callamard.

Callamard criticises leaders of rich countries, such as former President Donald Trump, for circumventing global cooperation efforts by buying up most of the world’s supply of vaccines, leaving little to none for other countries.

“These rich countries also have failed to push pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge and technology to expand the supply of global COVID-19 vaccines,” he says.

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The report further notes that international institutions such as the International Criminal Court and UN human rights mechanisms set up to hold states and individual perpetrators to account were wrestled into political deadlock by leaders seeking to exploit and undermine collective responses to human rights violations.

The organisation calls for more international cooperation to win the war against the pandemic. It says G20 members and international financial institutions must provide debt relief for the poorest 77 countries to respond and recover from pandemic.

“We are at a crossroads. We must release the shackles that degrade human dignity. We must reset and reboot to build a world grounded in equality, human rights, and humanity. We must learn from the pandemic, and come together to work boldly and creatively so everyone is on an equal footing,” it states.

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