The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has appealed to Mr. Karim A. A. Khan, KC, Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), to promptly issue a formal "preventative statement" addressing the ongoing violence, unlawful killings, crimes against children, and other violations of international law in Plateau State, Nigeria.
SERAP also urged Mr Khan “to undertake preliminary examination into the situation in Plateau State and to open an investigation or extend any current investigations to cover the ongoing situation in the state”.
The organisation urged Mr Khan “to visit Plateau State to show the commitment by your Office to deliver meaningful accountability and justice for the victims of the Plateau attacks and to deploy resources from the Trust Fund that your Office has established in order to ensure access of victims to effective remedies including reparations”.
More than 190 people are reportedly dead and hundreds injured. Several people are missing. The Nigerian Red Cross has reportedly stated that 32,604 persons have so far been affected.
In the letter dated December 30, 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Your urgent intervention would reassure victims and their families that they would receive effective remedies including reparations.
“It would serve to deter further violations and address the prevailing culture of impunity for such crimes across the country. It is the impunity of perpetrators and their sponsors that continues to fuel these human rights crimes.”
The petition read in part: “There is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes under international law and within the jurisdiction of the ICC have been committed in the ongoing violence in Plateau State.
“These allegations are also sufficiently grave to warrant a formal statement and preliminary examination by your Office.
“Your intervention in the situation in Plateau State would demonstrate your oft-repeated promise to strengthen the rule of law at the international level to the benefit of everyone.
“Nigerian authorities have a primary responsibility to ensure accountability and justice and reparations for these human rights crimes. However, Nigerian authorities are generally unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute these grave human rights crimes domestically.”
“Indeed, successive governments in Nigeria have been unwilling or unable to prosecute cases of unlawful killings and other violations of international law in several parts of the country, and to provide effective remedies and reparations to victims and their families.
“Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has the jurisdiction to hold perpetrators of the most serious international crimes accountable when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so, as well as provide redress to victims and help prevent future atrocities through deterrence.
“The focus on victims provided for in the Rome Statute creates an important platform for advancing human rights in Plateau State through the ICC.”
SERAP urged the ICC Prosecutor to “revisit and adopt your effective practice of issuing ‘preventative statements’ to send a powerful message to those who commit these grave violations of international law and aid and abet or facilitate them or contribute to their commission that they would be brought to justice”.
“A formal statement and preliminary examination by your Office would also make clear to the Nigerian authorities of their obligations to prevent unlawful killings and other violations of international law in Plateau State and other parts of Nigeria,” it said.
It added, “Your Office has also stated that, ‘justice is not an optional extra. It is an absolutely essential prerequisite for vindicating people’s rights.’
“According to our information, armed men attacked communities including in the Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of the Plateau State at night killing people, burning and destroying homes.
“More than 190 people are reportedly dead and hundreds injured. Several people are missing. The Nigerian Red Cross has reportedly stated that 32,604 persons have so far been affected. According to reports, the attacks have affected at least 84 communities in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi and left 29,350 persons displaced.”