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SERAP urges ICC to declare students’ abductions crime against humanity

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling on the body to declare the incessant abductions of school children in the Northern parts of Nigeria, especially Zamfara State, as crimes against humanity.

SERAP also asked the ICC to investigate the closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels, “to end the abductions considered as crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

In the petition signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawale Oluwadare, dated September 4, and addressed to the QC, Prosecutor at the ICC, Karim A. A. Khan, the organisation urged the ICC to push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of those serious crimes to be invited and tried.

The petition came following a string of abductions and closure of schools in parts of Nigeria, including the recent closure of schools in Zamfara State, after 73 students were abducted by bandits at the Government Secondary School, Kaya, in Maradun Local Government Area of the state.

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“Depriving children their right to education has severe consequences for their ability to access their fundamental rights,” the petition reads in part.

“The severe and lifelong harms that result from depriving children of the right to education satisfy the gravity of harm threshold under the Rome Statute.

“Investigating and declaring cases of abduction of Nigerian students and closure of schools, and the failure by the Nigerian authorities to provide safe and enabling learning environments as crimes against humanity would help to combat impunity, deter future human rights abuses, and improve access of the children to education.

“The crime of abduction is not just a deprivation of a single fundamental human right, but a wholesale effort to re-engineer society and to deny children, including girls their human dignity and agency in all aspects of their lives.

“The persistent failure by Nigerian authorities to end the widespread and systemic abductions, and to provide safe and enabling learning environments for Nigerian children to enjoy their right to quality education amounts to crimes against humanity, which fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

SERAP, therefore urged Khan, among others, to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of abductions of Nigerian students.

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