JUST-IN: SERAP Writes ICC Prosecutor Over Plateau Massacre

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Karim A. A. Khan, KC, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), has been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to promptly release a formal “preventative statement” regarding the ongoing violence, extrajudicial killings, crimes against children, and other transgressions of international law in Nigeria’s Plateau State.

Remember that there are supposedly hundreds of injured individuals and over 190 dead. There are numerous missing persons. 32,604 people have apparently been affected thus far, according to the Nigerian Red Cross.

The group urged Khan to initiate an inquiry or expand an existing one to cover the ongoing crisis in the state, as well as to conduct a preliminary examination into the situation in Plateau State, in a letter dated December 30, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.

Khan was encouraged by SERAP to travel to Plateau State in order to demonstrate his commitment to providing the victims of the Plateau attacks with real accountability and justice.

The group emphasised that the victims and their families would feel more secure knowing that the ICC would act quickly to provide them with meaningful remedies, including compensation.

The petition read in part: “There is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes under international law and within the jurisdiction of the ICC have been committed in the ongoing violence in Plateau State.

“These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant a formal statement and preliminary examination by your Office.

“Your intervention in the situation in Plateau State would demonstrate your oft-repeated promise to strengthen the rule of law at the international level to the benefit of everyone.

“Nigerian authorities have a primary responsibility to ensure accountability and justice and reparations for these human rights crimes. However, Nigerian authorities are generally unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute these grave human rights crimes domestically.

“Indeed, successive governments in Nigeria have been unwilling or unable to prosecute cases of unlawful killings and other violations of international law in several parts of the country, and to provide effective remedies and reparations to victims and their families.

“Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has the jurisdiction to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes accountable when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so, as well as provide redress to victims and help prevent future atrocities through deterrence.

“The focus on victims provided for in the Rome Statute creates an important platform for advancing human rights in Plateau State through the ICC.

“SERAP urges your Office to revisit and adopt your effective practice of issuing ‘preventative statements’ to send a powerful message to those who commit these grave violations of international law and aid and abet or facilitate them or contribute to their commission that they would be brought to justice.

“A formal statement and preliminary examination by your Office would also make clear to the Nigerian authorities of their obligations to prevent unlawful killings and other violations of international law in Plateau State and other parts of Nigeria.

“Issuing a formal statement and undertaking a preliminary examination into the situation in Plateau State would also serve as a reminder to the Nigerian authorities of their primary responsibility to strengthen the capacity of the national jurisdiction to prevent and address these human rights crimes.

“Accountability is a key element in ending impunity-fuelled unlawful killings and other grave violations of international law in Plateau State and other parts of Nigeria. SERAP believes that your Office has a critical role to play in preventing and combating these human rights crimes.

“Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001.

“SERAP notes that the ICC has reinforced the idea that international criminal justice is inseparably connected to the global efforts to promote respect for universally recognized human rights, starting with the most fundamental rights such as the right to life.

“Your Office has also stated that, ‘justice is not an optional extra. It is an absolutely essential prerequisite for vindicating people’s rights.’

“According to our information, armed men attacked communities, including in the Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of the Plateau State at night, killing people, burning and destroying homes.

“More than 190 people are reportedly dead and hundreds injured. Several people are missing. The Nigerian Red Cross has reportedly stated that 32,604 persons have so far been affected. According to reports, the attacks have affected at least 84 communities in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi and left 29,350 persons displaced.”

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