Nigeria, recent attacks by Boko Haram

European Parliament, July 17, 2014


European Parliament resolution of 17 July 2014 on Nigeria – recent attacks by Boko Haram (2014/2729(RSP))

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, including those of 4 July 2013[1] and of 15 March 2012[2],

– having regard to the statements by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton on Nigeria, including those of 26 June 2014 and 15 April 2014,

– having regard to the Council conclusions on abductions in Nigeria of 12 May 2014, – having regard to the statement by the EEAS spokesperson on Nigeria of 26 June 2014,

– having regard to the Council decision to add Boko Haram to the EU list of designated terrorist organisations, which entered into force on 29 May 2014,

– having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General of 30 June 2014,

– having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), published on 1 July 2014,

– having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s message of 17 June 2014 to a panel discussion marking the Day of the African Child,

– having regard to the Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2013 by the International Criminal Court (ICC),

– having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

– having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979,

– having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

– having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

– having regard to the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement 2007-2013, ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010,

– having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in particular its provisions on the protection of freedom of religion in Chapter IV

– Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, – having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Boko Haram is a growing threat for the stability of Nigeria, West-Africa and the Sahel region; whereas the violence instigated by this Islamist jihadi extremist organisation has caused many thousands of deaths in the past ten years; whereas the organisation indiscriminately targets Christians, moderate Muslims, government personnel and institutions and in fact anyone who does not adhere to its dogmatic and extreme beliefs;

B. whereas in the night of 14-15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State; whereas to date more than 200 students are still missing; whereas there are reports that the Nigerian security forces did not respond to an advance warning; whereas further kidnappings of schoolchildren have taken place following the Chibok attack;

C. whereas the kidnapped girls face serious threats of sexual violence, slavery and forced marriages;

D. whereas these abductions saw a strong response from civil society in Nigeria and throughout the world, demanding that the Nigerian Government take effective action to ‘bring back our girls’, ensure the protection of schoolchildren and tackle the spread of Boko Haram;

E. whereas there are alarming reports, including from the EEAS and government sources, about indiscriminate violence as part of the government response, including from the Nigerian Joint Task Force of military and police units, set up in May 2013 to fight Boko Haram;

F. whereas in recent months the rate of attacks by Boko Haram has dramatically increased and they are becoming increasingly violent, with over 4 000 casualties in the year to date in attacks on churches, schools, market places and villages, as well as security installations; whereas Boko Haram is currently extending its area of operations to encompass the entire northern half of Nigeria and adjacent areas of neighbouring countries;

G. whereas Boko Haram is held responsible for at least 18 attacks on civilians in northern Nigeria in the past two weeks, coupled with growing political tensions ahead of the planned general elections in 2015;

H. whereas Boko Haram’s attacks and the government response have sparked off a refugee crisis, with more than 10 000 people seeking refuge abroad, mainly in Niger and Cameroon, and many more Internally Displaced Persons, according to the UNHCR; whereas this puts further strain on meagre local food and water resources, especially in Niger, which itself is struggling with food insecurity after years of drought;

I. whereas the humanitarian situation of a large part of the population remains critical, with 70 % of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day;

J. whereas freedom of expression and freedom of the press are being jeopardised by threats of arrest, intimidation, violence and even death against those reporting on the Nigerian authorities in a critical manner; whereas Boko Haram has repeatedly threatened to attack media outlets that have reported negatively on it;

K. whereas, owing to the declaration of the state of emergency that has been in force since 14 May 2013 in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, large parts of these states have become inaccessible to aid agencies, journalists and reporters; whereas the government has shut down mobile phone services in several areas to stop militants communicating;

L. whereas the EU and its Member States have repeatedly offered their support to Nigeria in its ongoing efforts to protect its citizens and defeat terrorism in all its forms, as well as ending the culture of impunity for the use of sexual violence;

M. whereas on 28 May 2014 the EU placed Boko Haram and its leader, Abubakar Shekau, on its list of designated terrorist organisations, following the UN decision to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation and the example of other international partners;

N. whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has warned that Boko Haram’s attacks may constitute crimes against humanity; whereas an ICC preliminary investigation has confirmed this warning, concluding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Boko Haram is committing crimes against humanity and war crimes;

1. Strongly condemns the continuing wave of gun and bomb attacks, suicide bombings, kidnappings and other violent acts committed by the terrorist sect Boko Haram against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria, in the north, as well as in Abuja and Lagos; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the Chibok schoolgirls;

2. Expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and supports the efforts of the Nigerian Government to stop the violence and bring those responsible to justice;

3. Calls on the Nigerian Government and authorities to work together to ensure that the girls are brought home safely, to improve transparency about the rescue efforts and to provide adequate information and medical and psychological support to families of abducted girls in order to end the climate of suspicion;

4. Is extremely concerned about Boko Haram’s active targeting of women and children as part of its bloody guerrilla campaign et condemns the flagrant violation of fundamental rights constituted by the fact that Boko Haram is prohibiting young girls and boys from having access to education;

5. Takes the view that the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict should be activated in Nigeria and that UNICEF should increase its capacity in this area, in line with its mandate;

6. Expresses, furthermore, its grave concern about reports of forced conversions to Islam and the imposition of Sharia law as part of the group’s stated goal of creating an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria;

7. Urges the Nigerian Government and its forces to exercise restraint in tackling insurgent violence and to ensure that any efforts to tackle such violence are carried out in accordance with the Nigerian Government’s obligations under international law; requests the Nigerian authorities to investigate reports of indiscriminate and disproportionate violence by government forces, including the burning of homes and the execution of Boko Haram suspects, or even citizens with no apparent link to the organisation, and to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice;

8. Urges the Nigerian Government to fight not only the Boko Haram insurgency but also some of its root causes, including underdevelopment, widespread corruption, embezzlement of oil money, radicalisation and a lack of prospects, and asks the Member States to assist Nigeria in addressing these issues;

9. Urges the Nigerian authorities, furthermore, to bridge the economic divide between the north and south of the country, including by providing better education and health-care services in the north, and to ensure a fair distribution of benefits from oil wealth through the state budget to ensure proper regional development;

10. Emphasises, in particular, the importance of an independent, impartial and accessible judicial system to put an end to impunity and enhance respect for the rule of law and the fundamental rights of the population; accordingly, calls for steps to be taken to improve the efficiency and independence of Nigeria’s judicial system as a means of making effective use of criminal justice to combat terrorism;

11. Urges the Nigerian Government to recognise and respect freedom of the press and media and to allow journalists and reporters access to the front lines, given that the press and media can play an important role in strengthening accountability and documenting human rights abuses;

12. Reiterates its calls for the abolition of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Law, along with sections 214, 215 and 217 of the Nigerian Penal Code, which would put LGBT people – both Nigerian nationals and foreigners – at serious risk of violence and arrest;

13. Expresses concern at the increase in human trafficking and arms and drug smuggling in the region, and their links to Islamist terrorism; notes, furthermore, the connections between the Boko Haram, AQIM and Al Shabab militant groups in this illegal activity; calls on the Nigerian Government, working with ECOWAS governments, other governments and international agencies, to eradicate this trade as part of their efforts to combat the spread of international terrorism and the sources which fund it;

14. Urges the EEAS, the Council and the Commission to work with the UN and other international partners to cut off funding for, and restrict the movements of, Boko Haram and, in particular, its leadership;

15. Calls on the EEAS, the Commission, the Member States and international partners to continue to cooperate with Nigeria, including on the case of the Chibok schoolgirls, bilaterally and through regional and UN structures, in relief efforts, training of security forces and intelligence sharing;

16. Calls on the EEAS and the Commission swiftly to conclude the 2014-2020 country strategy for Nigeria and to include aid and assistance aimed at removing the root causes of the rise of Boko Haram;

17. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union, the UN Secretary-General, the UN General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan African Parliament.

[1] Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0335.

[2] OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 97.