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Nigeria: Children traumatised by abduction need urgent rehabilitation, say UN experts

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3 March 2021

GENEVA (3 March 2021) – UN experts* today urged Nigeria to prioritise specialised rehabilitation measures for the hundreds of abducted children left deeply traumatised after their release and to strengthen protection measures for those at risk.

“Social inclusion of these children requires the provision of long-term measures aimed at restoring their physical and psychological well-being,” the experts said. Sensitising families and communities to the importance of reintegration is imperative for them to be able to build renewed social relations with families and communities and to overcome stigma.

The experts also criticised the lack of an effective investigation into the abduction of 344 students from a boys’ boarding school in Kankara, Katsina State, in December 2020 and released a few days later.

“We are concerned about the total lack of transparency and of effective action almost three months later,” the experts said. “There has still not been an impartial, independent investigation into the abductions nor specialised rehabilitation for the children after the incident.

“Due to such incidents, many children have not returned to class and some schools have already closed down in the border areas out of fear of reoccurrence. This may mean an end to education for these children.” 
The experts said they were also anxious about the repercussions for the 279 schoolgirls released on 2 March 2021  after being abducted last week in the northwest Nigerian State of Zamfara.

The abductions are not isolated cases – on 17 February 2021 at least 27 students, three staff, and 12 family members from a college in the area of Niger State were also abducted and released 10 days later.

“We are alarmed at reports that an unknown number of women and girls have been abducted in recent years, and subjected to domestic servitude, forced labour, sexual slavery through forced marriages, forced and unwanted pregnancies,” the experts said.
“Serious concern is expressed about the physical and psychological integrity of these individuals, who are at increased risk of exploitation, trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of violence,” they said.

They said the Nigerian government has international legal obligations to protect the right to life, liberty and security of a person, as well as the obligation to adopt effective measures and policies to prevent exploitation. “We urge the Government to adopt effective preventive measures to avoid the re-occurrence of these acts and in particular to strengthen protection measures for children at risk and guarantee access to relevant support services, including sexual and reproductive health and services for women and girls.”

The experts also urged the Nigerian government “to conduct an impartial and independent investigation without further delay. We further remind of the provision of effective remedies and assistance”.

“Government should promote the expansion of community-based programmes to support the care, rehabilitation and reintegration of girls and women. These programmes should include psychosocial support and counselling, including to families”,  as recommended in the report of the Special Rapporteurs on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, on their joint visit to Nigeria in 2016.
ENDS

*The experts: Ms. Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children;Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education;Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material; Mr. Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences; Ms.Elizabeth Broderick (Chair), Ms.Melissa Upreti (Vice Chair), Ms. Dorothy Estrada TanckMs.Ivana Radačić, and Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane,Working Group on discrimination against women and girls; Dubravka SimonovicSpecial Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.
Endorsed by  Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Chair), Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius, (Vice Chair), Mr. Luciano Hazan, Mr. Bernard Duhaime, and Ms. Aua BaldeWorking Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms 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
For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Vanessa Asensio (vasensioperez@ohchr.org).
For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org)

 Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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