The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is to work with the Nigerian Armed Forces to integrate human rights into its counter-insurgency operations.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr Tony Ojukwu, SAN, made this known in Abuja at a colloquium on Human Rights in counter insurgency operations in Nigeria.
The event was organised by the commission in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and supported by Open Society.
“The commission acknowledges the existing Rules of Engagement, the Code of Conduct and other efforts of the military in developing frameworks for the protection of human rights.
” We look forward to engaging with these frameworks and making them even more effective and responsive to present and emerging challenges.“We want to strengthen its existing complaints and accountability mechanisms” he said.
The colloquium, Ojukwu said, is designed to serve as a platform to sensitise the military and other actors to mainstream human rights standards into counter-insurgency operations.
“We want to exchange ideas on the need to uphold standards that protect the rights of civilians and address human rights violations in the form of injuries and loss of lives for both civilians and military personnel,” he said.
He said that the Nigerian Constitution also guarantees for the rights to personal liberty, freedom of association, freedom of movement and freedom of religion, conscience and thought.
” We are concerned about the operations of the Civilian Joint Task Force and other associated non-state vigilante and support groups who are assisting in the operations in the North-East.
“The protection of human rights and the observance of all international and national frameworks and protocols thereto are the responsibility of every person in the theatre of conflict” he said.
Similarly, Dr Salamatu Suleiman, a lawyer said the gathering of stakeholders to deliberate on human rights issues would bring good results.
She said, the NHRC has the statutory mandate to promote and protect human rights of Nigerians.
” Its responsibility is to ensure that the state adheres to its obligations and responsibilities in line with international best practices.
” The State has an obligation to respect and protect the right to life of both the military and individuals under their jurisdiction from attacks by armed groups.
” Such an obligation includes taking measures to ensure officers are well trained and equipped to counter insurgents, putting measures to prevent the commission of offences, prompt investigation of human rights and humanitarian law violations,” she said.
Contributing, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, represented by defence, civil – military relations, Rear Admiral, Adeseye Ayobanjo, thanked the organisers of the event.
He said the event would give stakeholders the opportunity to interact.
The event, Irabor said, was coming when the global security is threatened.
Irabor said though the Nigerian security had been threatened since, 2009, he noted that human rights violations had reduced drastically. (NAN)