ICC prosecutor seeks investigation into abduction of Nigerian schoolchildren

ICC prosecutor seeks investigation into abduction of Nigerian school children

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to seek permission from the court’s pre-trial chamber to launch an investigation into cases of  abduction of schoolchildren in several parts of northern Nigeria, school closures, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to put an end to the abductions.

The decision came after the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project filed a petition with the ICC (SERAP).

This development was announced on Sunday by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, in a statement. SERAP encouraged the ICC prosecutor, Mr Karim A. A. Khan, QC, in a petition dated September 4, 2021, to “demand for individuals suspected of being responsible and involved in the commission of these major crimes to be invited and prosecuted by the ICC.”

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

Responding, the ICC prosecutor in a letter with reference number OTP-CR-363/21, and dated October 22, 2021 confirmed to SERAP that “the criteria for opening an investigation into a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria have been met.”

The letter signed on the prosecutor’s behalf by Mark P. Dillon, Head of the Information and Evidence Unit, read in part, “On behalf of the prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 13/09/2021, as well as any subsequent related information.

“The preliminary examination of the petition is considered complete. Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the next step in the judicial process is for the Prosecutor’s Office to prepare and submit a request to the pre-trial chamber for authorisation to open an investigation on Nigeria.

“Once submitted, the request will be made publicly available on the court’s website.”

“Once submitted, the request will be made publicly available on the court’s website.”

SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare said, “By this decision, the ICC prosecutor has taken a significant step toward ensuring that those suspected to be responsible for grave crimes against Nigerian schoolchildren are exposed and held to account.

“The victims of these crimes deserve justice. Impartial justice and reparation will deal a decisive blow to impunity of perpetrators, and improve access of Nigerian children to education. SERAP will work closely with the ICC to achieve these important objectives.”

SERAP’s petition to the ICC prosecutor, read in part: “Senior government officials know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent these crimes will violate the children’s human rights and dignity.

“The absence of any tangible and relevant investigation or prosecution in Nigeria suggests that the authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigation or prosecution of those suspected to be responsible for and complicit in the abduction of students.”

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