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Nigeria: Two years on, abducted Chibok girls are still unaccounted for despite promises of action

GENEVA (12 April 2016) – A group of United Nations and African human rights experts* today urged the Government of Nigeria to escalate its efforts to free all civilians kidnaped by Boko Haram. Speaking ahead of the second anniversary of the Chibok girls’ abduction, on 14 April, the experts also appealed to Boko Haram to immediately reveal the location of these girls, and release them together with hundreds of other captured civilians.

“In the last two years, despite re-assurances from those at the highest level of the Nigerian Government, the parents have not seen any concrete progress in locating and liberating their daughters,” the experts said. “The lack of access to information increases the suffering of the abductees’ families through false hopes and frustrations.”

While the UN and African human rights experts understand the security considerations put forward by the authorities, which prevent the disclosure of information, they have expressed their deep concern that “the grievances of the families and their most basic right to be kept informed about the plight of their loved ones has largely been ignored.”

The experts believe that the Nigerian authorities should meet the parents’ demand for the designation of a focal point to liaise with the families of abducted persons and provide them with regular information and assistance.

In the last two years, several abducted civilians have either managed to escape from Boko Haram or were freed by the Nigerian army. The UN and African human rights experts welcomed these operations and urged the authorities to ensure that those who have been released are provided with adequate care, recovery and reintegration services.

The experts commended ongoing programmes such as the Safe Schools Initiative and the Victims Support Fund. “We are nonetheless seriously concerned by the absence of follow-up in the provision of care, recovery and reintegration measures for victims of sexual violence,” they noted.

Moreover, the experts underlined the importance of adopting a gender perspective in the provision of such services, as most of the abducted civilians are women and girls requiring specific support.

“The reintegration and rehabilitation of women and children are essential in the path towards lasting peace,” they said recalling the findings of a joint visit to Nigeria in January of this year, by the UN Special Rapporteurs on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, on contemporary forms of slavery, and on the right to health.

“Both the Nigerian authorities and the international community should make it clear that all the alleged crimes perpetrated by Boko Haram will be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated, and those responsible, directly or as commanders or superiors, will be brought to justice,” they stated.

“The declaration by the African Union making this year the African Year of Human Rights with a specific focus on women’s rights should be an additional call to action for African States and the international community to actively support Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram and in addressing deep-rooted human rights violations such as gender-based violence and discrimination,” the experts concluded.

(*) The experts: Ms. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Ms. Urmila Bhoola, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Ms. Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Ms. Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; Ms. Eleonora Zielinska, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; Mr. Dainius Puras, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health; and Ms. Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

The Special Rapporteur on Rights of Women in Africa was established by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, in April 1998, in recognition of the need to place particular emphasis on the problems and rights specific to women in Africa. It is therefore one of the oldest mechanisms of the Commission. Learn more, visit: http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/rights-of-women/

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Nigeria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/NGIndex.aspx

For further information and media requests, please contact Mr. Dorian Hall (+41 22 917 96 31) or write to srsaleofchildren@ohchr.org

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Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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