Nigeria: Military Holding Children as Boko Haram Suspects

Written by on September 11, 2019

Thousands Have Been Held in Deplorable Conditions

September 11, 2019 Video

Nigeria: Military Holding Children as Boko Haram Suspects

The Nigerian military has arbitrarily detained thousands of children in degrading and inhuman conditions for suspected involvement with the armed Islamist group Boko Haram. (Abuja) – The Nigerian military has arbitrarily detained thousands of children in degrading and inhuman conditions for suspected involvement with the armed Islamist group Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Many children are held without charge for months or years in squalid and severely overcrowded military barracks, with no contact with the outside world. 

The 50-page report, “‘They Didn’t Know if I Was Alive or Dead’: Military Detention of Children for Suspected Boko Haram Involvement in Northeast Nigeria,” documents how Nigerian authorities are detaining children, often based on little or no evidence. Children described beatings, overwhelming heat, frequent hunger, and being packed tightly in their cells with hundreds of other detainees “like razorblades in a pack,” as one former detainee said. “Children are being detained in horrific conditions for years, with little or no evidence of involvement with Boko Haram, and without even being taken to court,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

“Many of these children already survived attacks by Boko Haram. The authorities’ cruel treatment adds to their suffering and victimizes them further.” Between January 2013 and March 2019, Nigerian armed forces detained over 3,600 children, including 1,617 girls, for suspected involvement with non-state armed groups, according to the UN. Many are detained at Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, the main military detention facility in Borno State.


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