North East: Human rights group to probe US claims of child soldiers
Human Rights organisation, Global Amnesty Watch, GWA, has said it would investigate allegations of the use of child soldiers in the counter-insurgency war in the North East of Nigeria, saying it categorically contravened the Child Soldier Prohibition Act 2008.
The findings of the investigation, GAW said, would be made public at the appropriate time.
The GAW was reacting to the United States 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, which accused the Nigerian authorities of engaging persons below the age of 18 in military operations against Boko Haram terrorists.
The rights group in a statement signed by its Director (African Affairs), John Tom Lever, said there was need to take the report in context to ensure that no one was inadvertently handed advantage to defeated terrorists to regroup.
He explained that part of the shift the world urgently required was not to adopt simplistic view of crisis situations because of fixation on international perspectives because such would tend to come off with an air of imperial dominance while jeopardising the interest of the vulnerable population that should be protected.
According to him, having been informed by its experiences from numerous field works in the North East, the investigation to be conducted by GAW would explore how much of context could be brought to the report.
Lever said, “For instance, we will like to establish if youths that were empowered with skills to be able to escape invading terrorists were stereotyped as “child soldiers” or whether persons whose growths were stunted as a result of the harsh environment brought about by terrorists’ activities were labeled as under age.
“We will also want to establish if young people in the quest for adventure and excitement lied to join the local Civilian JTF, which came about as a result of the determination of the people living in the affected areas to defend themselves against the carnage being unleashed by Boko Haram terrorists.
“The extent to which, if any, incidents of underage persons involvement in the conflict was made known to military authorities would also be reviewed since information at our disposal is to the effect that the government troops do not enlist persons below the internationally accepted age bracket.”
The group however cautioned interested parties to the Boko Haram insurgency to be cautious in their reports since there was the danger of the wording of some documents being construed as indicting the government and supporting the terrorists that made life a living hell for citizens.