HRW seeks equal accounting of Nigerian violence

July 2, 2013 at 4:16 PM
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ABUJA, Nigeria, July 2 (UPI) -- A human rights group is encouraging the Nigerian government to prosecute members of the Islamist group Boko Haram and government forces who tracked them.

Human Rights Watch said Boko Haram members have been documented carrying out brutal attacks in northern Nigeria that include the persecution of Christians, terrorist attacks and murdering civilians -- offenses that likely constitute crimes against humanity under international law. In response to the threat, Nigerian government officials responded with violence of its own, including extrajudicial executions, burning civilian property and detention-related abuses, the group said.

The Nigerian government has established the Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North to address the Boko Haram threat. The government has considered offering amnesty for some crimes the group has committed as part of a peace settlement.

Human Rights Watch said full prosecution of crimes on both sides will foster a stronger peace than whitewashing wrongdoing on both sides.

"Boko Haram members have committed heinous crimes," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Justice for the gravest abuses, whether by Boko Haram or security forces, is essential for victims and building long-term peace in Nigeria."

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