Nigeria: Amnesty urges 'transparency' in army probe


Nigerian authorities must ensure that a panel set up to probe allegations of human rights violations by the military is independent and impartial while its proceedings are transparent, Amnesty International said Monday.

The panel, headed by Appeals Court Judge Biobele Georgewill and inaugurated on Aug. 4, began sitting on Monday, with members of the public asked to submit memoranda on alleged violations to the panel.

The human rights organization said the panel's terms of reference left much to be desired, including its silence on whether its findings would be made public and protection of witnesses and victims who may appear before it.

"The establishment of this investigative panel is an opportunity for Nigeria to ensure justice for victims of the countless allegations of war crimes by the military in the country — and it must not be wasted," Osai Ojigho, Director Amnesty International Nigeria, said in a statement.

"However, the panel will only be able to achieve these goals if international standards and best practices on thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigations are guaranteed and implemented," Ojigho said.

"It is also vital that the panel makes its findings public — unlike in previous investigations — to ensure full transparency and accountability," he added.

The rights body also urged the government to ensure the panel had all the resources needed for the assignment.

These include adequate financial support, plus expertise in criminal investigation, forensic analysis, legal analysis, witness protection, gender advice and data management, according to the group.

Amnesty said the panel's mandate should also include recommendations to punish perpetrators of the rights violations.

The Nigerian army faces allegations of rights violations, including forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, as troops are increasingly deployed to crush local crises or threats to the country's sovereignty.

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