Amnesty International Condemns Bombings Against Civilians in Nigeria

Press Release
June 27, 2011

Amnesty International Condemns Bombings Against Civilians in Nigeria

Contact: AIUSA media relations, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.)-Nigerian armed groups must stop attacking civilians, Amnesty International said today, after as many as 30 people were killed in a bomb attack blamed on the religious sect Boko Haram.

Motorcyclists hurled bombs into a beer garden killing up to 30 people in Maiduguri, Borno State, in the northeast of the country on Sunday, before shooting bullets into the crowd. On Monday several others were injured in a bombing also believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram.

The attacks are the latest in a series of bombings targeting civilians. Many blame Boko Haram, an armed group which seeks to establish Sharia law in parts of Nigeria.

"These killings are senseless and outrageous. Direct attacks on civilians are prohibited under international law and show a complete disregard for the right to life," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International's deputy director for Africa. "Boko Haram must stop its reign of terror in the country. No cause can justify the deliberate targeting of civilians."

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a spate of bombings across the country since mid-2010. In the past several weeks, dozens of people have been killed in the attacks. One such attack was on June 16 when a church was bombed, reportedly by Boko Haram, killing three children. The group has also attacked Muslim clerics who have criticized them. Previously, the group primarily targeted police and other government authorities.

In response, the Nigerian security forces have carried out mass arrests, tortured suspects and detained people without charge or trial for lengthy periods.

Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to step up the protection of residents in the Northeast.

"The Nigerian government can only ensure safety by investing heavily in reforming the criminal justice system, so that the perpetrators of these attacks and other human rights abuses, can be properly investigated, arrested and prosecuted in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty," said Hondora.

The Nigerian criminal justice system is dysfunctional at best and subjects thousands to human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and unfair trials. Suspected members of Boko Haram have been rounded up in previous sweeps, but have not been tried, due in part to the lack of proper police work to gather evidence.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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