Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned Mr Karim A. A. Khan, prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the growing cases of abduction of students in several parts of Northern Nigeria, closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abduction as amounting to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
SERAP urged him to push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of these serious crimes, to be invited and tried by the ICC.
The petition followed a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria, including the recent closure of schools in Zamfara State after scores of students were abducted by gunmen from a state-run high school in Maradun district. In the petition dated September 4 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, it said: “Depriving children their right to education has severe consequences for their ability to access their fundamental rights. The severe and lifelong harms that result from depriving children the right to education satisfy the gravity of harm threshold under the Rome Statute.
“Investigating and declaring cases of abduction of Nigerian students and closure of schools, and the failure by the Nigerian authorities to provide safe and enabling learning environments as crimes against humanity would help to combat impunity, deter future human rights abuses, and improve access of the children to education.
“Persistent and discriminatory denial of education to girls is a crime against humanity. Repeated abductions, the absence of safe and enabling learning environments, and the resulting closure of schools give rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute.”
The petition, read in part: “The crime of abduction is not just a deprivation of a single fundamental human right, but a wholesale effort to re-engineer society and to deny children, including girls their human dignity and agency in all aspects of their lives. Lack of education for girls and women has been shown to have negative impacts on their children and family.
“The persistent failure by Nigerian authorities to end the widespread and systemic abductions, and to provide safe and enabling learning environments for Nigerian children to enjoy their right to quality education amounts to crimes against humanity, which fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”