Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Nigeria’s Buhari meets with Dapchi girls — Boko Haram expected to strike Again — Terrorism and Corruption in Africa

March 23, 2018


© AFP / by Ola Awoniyi | A total of 113 children were seized from the school in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria on February 19, all but two of them girls

ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari received the released Dapchi girls on Friday in a meeting clouded by the absence of a Christian student still held by Boko Haram for refusing to convert to Islam.”We entered into negotiation solely to make sure that no single girl was hurt. This strategy paid off as the girls are being released without any incident,” Buhari said to reporters at the presidential villa in Abuja.

The girls, dressed in brightly coloured hijabs, enthusiastically sang the national anthem before posing for photos with Buhari outside in a garden.

Describing the release of the 107 youngsters — 105 schoolgirls and two young boys — as a “cheery and hearty” development, Buhari pledged to recover “every abducted citizen in Nigeria.”

“While parents of the Dapchi girls rejoice because of the reunion with their children, I want to appeal to the Chibok community never to lose hope or despair. We are determined as never before to bring back our remaining Chibok daughters,” he said.

The latest mass kidnapping from the town of Dapchi was an embarrassment for Buhari whose government has repeatedly claimed that the Boko Haram Islamist group is close to defeat.

– Dialogue ongoing –

A total of 113 children were seized from the school in Dapchi, in the northeastern state of Yobe, on February 19, all but two of them girls.

On Wednesday morning, 105 of the girls were brought back by the jihadists, who drove freely into the town in a convoy of vehicles waving the black Boko Haram flag and met by cheering residents.

“The insurgents’ only condition was their demands for a cessation of hostilities and a temporary ceasefire to enable them to return the girls (to) the point they picked them (up),” security director Lawal Daura said.

“The remaining six Dapchi girls are yet to be accounted for and dialogue on these students is still on-going,” he said.

Five girls are said to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping, while one girl — the only Christian — is still being held, with Buhari on Friday promising to free her.

– ‘Praying for her return’ –

Leah Sharibu is still with her captors, apparently because she refused to convert to Islam.

“It is disheartening that one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, remains in captivity,” said Buhari on his official Twitter account.

“We will do everything in our power to bring Leah back safely,” he said.

“There is no news that they have seen my daughter,” Leah’s father Nata Sharibu told AFP over the phone.

“People pray that my daughter will come.”

The Dapchi kidnapping revived painful memories in Nigeria of the April 2014 abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, a town also in the northeast, which caused global outrage.

While some of the Chibok girls have been freed in exchange for ransom and the release of top Boko Haram commanders, a total of 112 remain in captivity.

Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted schools giving a so-called Western education in the mainly-Muslim region as part of an insurgency that has killed at least 20,000 people since 2009.

According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, more than 2,296 teachers have been killed and some 1,400 schools destroyed in the wider northeast.

On Wednesday, the Borno state government announced that all boarding secondary schools outside Maiduguri and the town of Biu would be closed indefinitely with immediate effect.

Boko Haram has increasingly turned to kidnapping for ransom to raise funds for their operations in the Lake Chad region.

While a 2015 offensive launched by Buhari successfully reclaimed swathes of territory back from the jihadists in Nigeria, the group still stages deadly attacks on both military targets and civilians.

by Ola Awoniyi

Nigeria: Security forces failed to act on warnings about Boko Haram attack hours before abduction of schoolgirls — Government corruption?

March 23, 2018

Amnesty International

Leah Sharibu, only Dapchi schoolgirl in Boko Haram captivity.

Nigerian security forces failed to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading towards a town where they abducted 110 schoolgirls last month, an investigation by Amnesty International has revealed.

The military failed to respond while Boko Haram conducted an armed raid on the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state, on 19 February in an assault with chilling echoes of the infamous Chibok girls’ abduction of 2014.

“The Nigerian authorities must investigate the inexcusable security lapses that allowed this abduction to take place without any tangible attempt to prevent it,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director.

“As an even greater priority, the government must use all lawful means at its disposal to ensure that these girls are rescued.

“The authorities appear to have learned nothing from the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state in 2014 and failed to ensure protection for civilians in northeast Nigeria, specifically girls’ schools.”

In response to the Chibok abduction, the Safe Schools Initiative – which is currently coordinated by the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative – was launched to improve security around schools. However, no framework seems to be in place to prevent further abductions and it appears that the Nigerian military is unable to protect schools from attack.

“Evidence available to Amnesty International suggests that there are insufficient troops deployed in the area, and that an absence of patrols and the failure to respond to warnings and engage with Boko Haram contributed to this tragedy,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The Nigerian authorities have failed in their duty to protect civilians, just as they did in Chibok four years ago. Despite being repeatedly told that Boko Haram fighters were heading to Dapchi, it appears that the police and military did nothing to avert the abduction.”

The Nigerian authorities have failed in their duty to protect civilians, just as they did in Chibok four years ago. Despite being repeatedly told that Boko Haram fighters were heading to Dapchi, it appears that the police and military did nothing to avert the abduction.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director

Amnesty International gathered testimonies from multiple credible sources showing that the Nigerian army and police received multiple calls up to four hours before the raid on Dapchi, but did not take effective measures to stop the abduction or rescue the girls after they were taken by Boko Haram fighters.

The military withdrew troops from the area in January, meaning the closest personnel were based one hour’s drive from Dapchi.

Between 2pm and 6.30pm on 19 February, security forces received at least five calls warning them that the armed group was on the way to Dapchi.

The first call was made to the army command in Geidam, 54km from Dapchi, informing them that Boko Haram fighters had been seen at Futchimiram heading to Gumsa, a village about 30km from Dapchi. However, the evidence documented by Amnesty International shows that the military did nothing to engage with Boko Haram and ensure the protection of civilians.

Commander ‘aware of Boko Haram movement’ four hours before abduction

The sighting of an armed convoy at Futchimiram immediately sparked several phone calls to alert authorities. Sources who informed the military commander in Geidam at 2pm report that he responded to them by saying he was aware of the situation and was monitoring it.

At around 3pm, the convoy arrived in Gumsa, where they remained till 5pm. People in Gumsa called Dapchi villagers to warn them that Boko Haram fighters were on their way. One villager who received such a call said he informed a police sergeant who promised to notify the Dapchi Division Police Officer (DPO).

At around 6:30pm, when residents were heading to the mosque for evening prayers, Boko Haram members entered Dapchi. Witnesses said Boko Haram fighters asked for directions to the military post, the local government office and the girls’ school.

A police source in Dapchi told Amnesty International that officers fled because they feared the Boko Haram fighters would overpower them.

Government must investigate root causes of failure to respond

A source based in northeast Nigeria told Amnesty International: “All the military needed to do was send troops towards Gumsa from Geidam or Babban Gida, while telling its troops in Damasak, Kareto, Gubio and Magumeri to be on the lookout or be on patrol.”

A review of the Nigerian army’s actions by Amnesty International’s crisis advisor for military operations also concluded that the military’s response was woefully inadequate. The review took into consideration the locations of the soldiers and the time it would take to get to Dapchi, as well as the route taken by Boko Haram.

According to victims and eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International, Boko Haram left Gumsa for Dapchi at around 5:00pm, arriving at around 6:30pm. They left Dapchi at around 7:30pm in the direction of Gumsa, where villagers say they arrived at around 9:00pm.

During the attack, army officials both in Geidam and Damaturu were again alerted. The military only arrived in Dapchi shortly after Boko Haram left.

Villagers in Dapchi and Gumsa said a military jet arrived about one hour after Boko Haram left Dapchi.

Six days after the abduction, on 25 February, a security meeting was held at the governor’s office in the state capital Damaturu attended by state and federal government officials, security chiefs, the military officials operating in the area and representatives from the school and parents. The authorities were aware that the military was notified at least four hours before the attack that suspected Boko Haram fighters were heading to Gumsa. No one appears to have asked why the military did not respond adequately or why there were not enough troops.

President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently ordered an investigation into the response to the abduction.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public – and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” said Osai Ojigho.

The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public – and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes.
Osai Ojigho

“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures has the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria? And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”

Families of abducted girls left without any information

The abduction was followed by confusion. Initially, the authorities denied any girls were abducted, then the Yobe state authorities stated that the military had rescued the girls. But the girls did not return home, and on 22 February the state government confirmed the abductions.

One parent told Amnesty International: “That night we heard their voices when they were being taken, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone was scared. Boko Haram did not stay in the town for more than one hour.”

That night we heard their voices when they were being taken, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone was scared. Boko Haram did not stay in the town for more than one hour.

Another parent described how the girls’ relatives were not given any information until the following day, and had to wait outside the school to find out if their loved ones were safe.

“Many parents were hopeful that their daughters were inside. We stood there from morning till around 5pm in the evening, when they let the students out. It was at that point it dawned on me that my daughter was among those abducted,” he said.

Another parent whose daughter returned said: “Nobody told parents officially that their daughters were taken. While I was glad seeing my daughters, I felt bad for other parents whose daughters could not be found.”

No lessons learned from 2014 Chibok abduction

The response to this abduction has chilling similarities to the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014.

On that occasion, the military also had four hours’ advance warning but failed to take the immediate action needed to stop it, with most military personnel withdrawn shortly before the abduction.

Similarly, the abduction was followed by a climate of confusion and suspicion, which appeared to slow down the Nigerian authorities’ efforts to locate and free the abducted girls.

After the Chibok abduction, the military initially said that almost all the abducted girls had been rescued, but later had to retract that statement.

The authorities under President Goodluck Jonathan originally investigated Boko Haram’s responsibility for the Chibok abductions but never made the report public. In January 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered another investigation into the government’s response to the Chibok abduction. This report was also never made public.

“Regrettably, no lessons appear to have been learned from the terrible events at Chibok four years ago. What happened in Dapchi is almost a carbon copy of what happened in Chibok, with the security forces failing to respond to warnings – and the same result for another hundred girls and their families,” said Osai Ojigho.

“All authorities must now work together to ensure the girls are brought home safely and this never happens again. This abduction is a war crime and those responsible must be brought to justice. As a first step, the two reports into the Chibok abductions should be made public.”

Amnesty International is calling on Boko Haram to immediately release the girls and all others in its captivity.


A team of Amnesty International researchers visited Dapchi and interviewed 23 people, including girls who escaped, parents of the abducted girls, local officials and eyewitnesses, to document this abduction. They also interviewed three security officials.

The sources independently verified a list of Nigerian security officials who were alerted on 19 February, before and during the raid on the Government Girls Science and Technical College. They have been kept anonymous for their safety.

The sources and eyewitnesses in Dapchi confirmed that approximately 50 Boko Haram fighters arrived in Dapchi in a convoy of nine vehicles with Arabic inscriptions on them, seven Landcruiser trucks, one Hilux and a Canter truck.


Integrated Bar of the Philippines urges ending current ouster efforts against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno — “Duterte wants her out so she’s out.”

March 23, 2018


The 40,000-strong Integrated Bar of the Philippines insisted that the Supreme Court should junk the petition for quo warranto against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as she can only be ousted through impeachment.  The STAR/Boy Santos

Kristine Joy Patag ( – March 23, 2018 – 2:14pm


MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines is the latest to ask the Supreme Court to junk the petition for quo warranto against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
The 40,000-strong IBP on Friday asked the SC to allow their opposition-in-intervention against Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition that seeks the nullification of Sereno’s appointment as chief justice.
The IBP, through its president Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo, argued that Sereno could only be removed through impeachment as stated by the 1987 Constitution.
“[T]he Constitution admits of no other mode of removal of impeachable officers for impeachable offenses is clear from the text of Article XI, Section 2,” the IBP said.
The said provision of the Constitution provides that the “President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.”
Calida sought the SC to nullify Sereno’s appointment in 2012 as chief justice, arguing that Sereno “flunked the test of integrity” when she failed to meet the Judicial and Bar Council’s requirement for submission of her Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
On Thursday, two groups also filed their motions urging the high court to dismiss Calida’s petition.
READ: Makabayan bloc to oppose Calida’s ouster plea vs Sereno | Petitioners question timing of Calida’s ouster plea

‘Sereno deemed qualified by JBC, president’


The group of lawyers also stressed that Sereno was deemed qualified for a position at the high court by the JBC, mandated by the Constitution to screen applicants for the bench, twice.
“The first being her appointment as an Associate Justice in 2010 and the second being her appointment as Chief Justice in 2012. Both instances are deliberate exercises of specific constitutional power, the parameters of which are defined by the actors, not by outsiders,” the IBP said.
“To impose the subjective judgment of an outsider to the process confined by the Constitution to specific actors would enable an intrusion that the Constitution neither defines or allows,” the IBP added.

Calida’s case


Central to Calida’s argument is Sereno’s failure to submit 10 of her SALNs when she applied for the position in 2012. During the probable cause hearing on Sereno’s impeachment case by the House justice panel, it was raised that the chief justice only submitted three of her SALNs.
But the IBP noted that the JBC accepted Sereno’s letter explaining that some of her SALNs could not be located by the University of the Philippines.
READ: Sereno to present ‘missing’ SALNs
The acceptance of Sereno’s letter and her inclusion on the short list presented to then-President Benigno Aquino III “carries the weight of its constitutional duty, which in the absences of any clear indication, as in this case, cannot be overturned on the mere subjective judgment of outsiders,” the JBC said.
Sereno has been on an indefinite leave since March 1. She said that this is in preparation for her looming impeachment trial at the Senate.



Peace and Freedom comment:

Without a hearing, it seems she’s been found guilty of something and now there is a discussion on how best remove her. This is more “extra-legal” Shinanigans in the Philippines. People in the Philippines tell us, Duterte wants her out so she’s out.”


All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

Philippines May Have Pulled Out of the International Criminal Court By Mistake — “The President Did Not Read the Law.” — President’s lawyers do not understand international law — Is there a doctor (or a lawyer) in the house?

March 21, 2018


 / 05:09 AM March 21, 2018

Whoever gave President Duterte legal advice that led to his decision “withdrawing [the Philippine] ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately” did both the country and the President a serious disservice.

In the first place, the escalating series of announcements — first a three-page “Statement of the President of the Republic of the Philippines” (from which the passage above is quoted), followed by varying explanations by Palace officials, then a 15-page “Statement of the President of the Republic of the Philippines on the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” then the formal notice to the secretary general of the United Nations — painted a revealing picture of rolling rationalizations, obvious to the nonpartisan eye.

The least the President’s lawyers could have done was to insist on strict message discipline. Instead, the cacophony that began blaring on Wednesday, March 14, showed to an unbelieving world that the Duterte administration was trying out different reasons.

The one justification that actually counts was the reason (the only one) advanced by Ambassador Teodoro Locsin Jr. in his notice to the office of Secretary General António Guterres, namely, the supposed politicization and weaponization of human rights.

Second, the phrasing itself (“withdrawing its ratification”) is thick with implication unfavorable to the President. By referencing the process of ratification, it creates an opening for those who were party to the process — namely, the Senate — to insist that they should have been included in any attempt to undo the ratification.

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Left: Rodrigo Duterte; Right: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The President’s lawyers should have spent a little more time thinking about the legal language the President would use, to prevent potential problems.

In contrast, the official notice to the United Nations nuanced the matter in this way: “withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court …” To be sure, regardless of which phrasing was used, we believe that because the Senate is involved in the ratification of treaties, it must also be involved in any attempt at deratification.

But why should the President’s lawyers use language that can be turned against him?

Third, withdrawal could not have been immediate — and the President’s lawyers should have reminded him repeatedly of that central fact.

Whether the phrase was understood as referring to the date of transmittal of the official notice to the United Nations, or, more properly, as referring to the period when the withdrawal takes effect, the use of the phrase “effective immediately” only drew attention to the lawyers’ manifest lack of close reading of the basic documents.

Withdrawal takes effect only after a full year after notice is officially received.

Fourth, if the use of immediate effectivity was deliberate, it only showed that the President’s lawyers did not understand international law, or indeed the web of interconnections that bind all countries dedicated to following rules.

Regardless of the harrumphing we hear from the corridors in the Palace and in the Batasan, the ICC will continue to follow the clear provisions of the Rome Statute.

Regardless of the President’s insistence, perhaps fed by his lawyers and legal advisers, that the treaty never took effect in the Philippines and thus the ICC could not have acquired jurisdiction over him or any other Philippine official, the ICC will continue to follow the clear provisions of the law.

Even the pragmatic majority that now rules the Supreme Court will find it extremely difficult to justify a legal position negating the one-year withdrawal period. The justices would have to deem the long struggle to ratify the Rome Statute as constitutionally defective.

Fifth, and as columnist John Nery argued, the withdrawal only served to reinforce the position that holds that the ICC must intervene with an investigation of its own. Why? Because the withdrawal, and the legal advice that led to it, created the very condition that allows the ICC to conduct investigations into sovereign countries: the lack of genuine national proceedings.

Finally, as columnist Randy David observed, “What is upon us today is a global system that is evolving in ways never before seen. This system’s functional domains are, clearly, unevenly developed …. Being the last bastions of the nation-state, the legal and political systems are probably the slowest to evolve in their global form.”

The legal advice the President received reinforces this impression that the Philippine legal and political systems remain backward, to our collective misfortune.

Read more:
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Duterte never had the chance to read the Rome Statute


By Genalyn Kabiling

Manila Bulletin

Never did President Duterte had a chance to read the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) because it did not become a valid law in the country.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks before the mayors of municipalities during the League of Municipalities of the Philippines Convention at the Manila Hotel, Tuesday night. (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)


The President insisted that the treaty was never in effect since it was not published in the Official Gazette, the state’s publication. Such lack of publication, Duterte said, was his “legal excuse” in believing the  international court could never have jurisdiction over him.

“They never published it. Sila-sila lang ‘yan sa Senate, ‘yung Presidente nagpirma at ipinadala kaagad sa Rome [It was the Senate, the President who signed the Rome Statute],” he said during the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) graduation ceremony in Cavite.

“I never read the law. I was a mayor then. Wala akong nabasa [I did not read it]. I was not put on notice. It is a legal excuse? Yes. Eh bakit ‘di ko gamitin? Napakabobo ko namang abogado [Why shouldn’t use it? I’d be a stupid lawyer if I didn’t],” he added.

The President recently declared the country’s withdrawal from the ICC over violation of due process, constitutional presumption of innocence, among others. His decision came after the ICC opened a preliminary probe into the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the President’s war on illegal drugs.

In his remarks Wednesday, the President said “not in a million years” would the ICC acquire jurisdiction over his person.

He maintained that the treaty was not enforceable in the country since it was not published in the Official Gazette as required by domestic law.

He also rejected arguments by some groups that Rome Statute need not be published because it was immediately effective.

“Ikulong mo ako [You’ll throw me in jail] without due process of law? Anong due process ‘yan?  [What due process?] No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” he said.

“What is the due process involved here? Publication so that you will be put to notice kayong lahat pulis na may batas [all the police about the law] but they never published it,” he said.


All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

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Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions


No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.




We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)




Nigeria repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls: Amnesty — “A War They Don’t Want To Win”

March 20, 2018

Nigeria forces repeatedly warned before Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls: AmnestyA picture taken on Feb. 28 at the Government Girls Technical College at Dapchi town in northern Nigeria shows a classroom deserted by fleeing students after Boko Haram Islamists kidnapped 110 schoolgirls. Nigeria’s government on March 1 said it had set up a committee to establish how Boko Haram jihadists managed to kidnap the 110 girls from their school in the country’s remote northeast. | AFP



Nigeria’s military was on Tuesday accused of ignoring repeated warnings about the movements of Boko Haram fighters before they kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in the country’s restive northeast.

The students — the youngest of whom is aged just 10 — were seized from the town of Dapchi, Yobe state, on Feb. 19 in virtually identical circumstances to those in Chibok in 2014.

Then, more than 200 schoolgirls were taken in an attack that brought sustained world attention on the Islamist insurgency and sparked a global campaign for their release.

President Muhammadu Buhari has called the Dapchi abduction a “national disaster” and vowed to use negotiation rather than force to secure their release.

But as in Chibok nearly four years ago, human rights group Amnesty International claimed the military was warned about the arrival of the heavily armed jihadists — yet failed to act.

In the hours that followed both attacks, the authorities also tried to claim the girls had not been abducted.

Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osa Ojigho said “no lessons appear to have been learned” from Chibok and called for an immediate probe into what she called “inexcusable security lapses.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public — and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” she added.

“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures have the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria?

“And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”

There was no immediate response from the Nigerian military when contacted by AFP.

Amnesty said that between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 19, at least five calls were made to tell the security services that Islamist fighters were in the Dapchi area.

Locals spotted about 50 members of the Islamic State group affiliate in a convoy of nine vehicles in Futchimiram, about 30 km (19 miles) from Dapchi, then at Gumsa.

In Gumsa, where Boko Haram stayed until about 5:00 p.m., residents phoned ahead to Dapchi to warn them. The convoy arrived at about 6:30 p.m. and left about 90 minutes later.

Amnesty, whose researchers spoke to about 23 people and three security officials, said the army command in Geidam had told callers they were aware of the situation and were monitoring.

Police in Dapchi promised to tell divisional commanders, while army commanders in Geidam and Damaturu were also alerted during the attack, it added.

People in Dapchi have previously said troops were withdrawn from the town earlier this year, leaving only a few police officers. The nearest military detachment was an hour away.

The Dapchi abduction has thrown into doubt repeated government and military claims that Boko Haram is on the brink of defeat, after nearly nine years of fighting and at least 20,000 deaths.

Boko Haram, which has used kidnapping as a weapon of war during the conflict, has not claimed responsibility but it is believed a faction headed by Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi is behind it.

Image result for Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi, photos

Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi

IS in August 2015 publicly backed Barnawi as the leader of Boko Haram, or Islamic State West Africa Province, over Abubakar Shekau, whose supporters carried out the Chibok abduction.

Analysts have attributed a financial motive to the Dapchi kidnapping given government ransom payments made to Boko Haram to secure the release of some of the captives from Chibok.


Asean-Australia Special Summit Faces Difficult Issues This Week-End

March 16, 2018

SYDNEY – For the first time, Australia will be hosting a summit with leaders from the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), as it seeks to build closer ties with Asean nations.

The two-day summit in Sydney, starting on Saturday (March 17), is seen as a diplomatic coup for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has won praise for his efforts to focus on ties with South-east Asia, amid concerns that Australia’s foreign policy is overly focused on handling relations with China.

Mr Turnbull will play host to nine of the 10 Asean leaders. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte decided not to attend the summit, citing more pressing developments at home.

The meeting presents some tricky diplomatic issues for both Mr Turnbull and the attending Asean leaders.

Analysts have urged the summit to adopt a position in support of free trade, following the recent decision by United States President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Former Indonesian trade minister Mari Pangestu, now professor of international economics at the University of Indonesia, and Professor Peter Drysdale from the Australian National University, said on Thursday that Asean’s response to the rising threat to free trade is its greatest challenge.

They called on the Australian and Asean leaders to issue a declaration that commits to “avoiding retaliation to US protectionism” and to promoting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP is a multilateral free trade pact involving Asean, China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and South Korea.

“As China and the US stare each other down with a potentially devastating trade war on the horizon, it may seem strange to turn to Asean, but it has a central role in the collective response to Asia’s present predicament,” they wrote in The Australian Financial Review.

The summit is also set to tackle potentially thorny issues such as North Korea’s nuclear missile program, the regional terror threat, and China’s territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea.

There have also been calls for Asean to address human rights concerns, particularly the treatment of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

“Myanmar’s regional neighbours – including Australia and Asean – must send a signal that crimes against humanity are unacceptable and will not go unpunished,” said Mr James Gomez, Amnesty International’s regional director for South-east Asia and the Pacific.

Australia has longstanding ties with Asean and became a dialogue partner in 1974, the first country to do so.

Its overall trade with Asean is worth A$93 billion (S$96 billion), more than with the US or Japan. Investment from Asean was worth some A$44 billion in 2016, more than that from China.

In Australia, commentators and officials have welcomed the summit as an opportunity to boost ties with countries in South-east Asia.

“Asean is in our region… it is absolutely vital that we have stability, whether it be economic prosperity or national security, in the region,” an unnamed Australian government official told The Australian yesterday.

But some commentators are cautious about overemphasising the potential for greater ties between Australia and the region.

They said Australia’s economic ties with South-east Asia, for instance, are dominated by relations with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

These nations account for two-thirds of Australia’s trade with South-east Asia. And Singapore accounts for about 70 per cent of investment from Asean.

Nonetheless, the summit will be an opportunity for both sides to present a united front – particularly on trade – that could deliver a timely message to the world.

Philippines’ withdrawal from ICC a ‘cowardly option’ — Amnesty says — “When Duterte Compared Himself to Hitler, We Should Nave Taken Note.”

March 15, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao on February 9, 2018. (AFP)

Gaea Katreena Cabico ( – March 15, 2018 – 3:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — London-based rights group Amnesty International slammed the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw the Philippines’ inclusion in the International Criminal Court, calling the move “misguided” and “deeply regrettable.”
Duterte on Wednesday announced the country’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, the international that created ICC, “effectively immediately.”
One of the reasons he cited was the supposedly illegal attempt by the international tribunal’s prosecutor to place him under ICC’s jurisdiction.
But James Gonzalez, AI’s regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that the government is attempting to run away from accountability.
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Left: Rodrigo Duterte; Right: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
“If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way—which is at the ICC,” Gonzalez.
He added: “Instead, they have taken the cowardly option of trying to evade justice.”
The AI executive noted that the latest move of the Philippine government shows that those in power are “more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings” than they are in ensuring justice for the victims of the ferocious “war on drugs.”
He, however, said that the country’s withdrawal “comes too late” to stop the ICC preliminary examination.
Last month, the international tribunal announced that it had opened an initial inquiry into the alleged killings linked to the government’s crackdown on illegal narcotics.
“Duterte cannot stop international accountability in the Philippines simply by deleting his signature from the Rome Statute,” Gonzalez said.
Human Rights Watch also said that the court could still prosecute any international crimes committed while the Philippines is still an ICC member.
According to the Article 127 of the Rome Statute, the withdrawal shall take effect a year after the written notification of the withdrawal is received by the United Nations secretary-general.
“Its withdrawal shall not affect any cooperation with the court in connection with criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the withdrawing state had a duty to cooperate and which were commenced prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective, nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective,” the treaty also said.





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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Duterte an Embarrassment to The Philippines — “This is a classic Duterte move to cheat his way out of culpability and responsibility”

March 14, 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his speech during his visit to the troops at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City on March 10, 2018, tells the troops to remain loyal to flag of the Philippines.

Presidential photo/Albert Alcain
Groups: Withdrawal from ICC won’t protect Duterte from being prosecuted
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( – March 14, 2018 – 6:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — The decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw from the Rome Statute does not mean that he will be free from the country’s obligations when it was still a party to the treaty, human rights groups said.

Duterte on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, the international treaty that created the International Criminal Court, “effectively immediately.” He cited the “outrageous” attacks against him and his administration and the supposedly illegal attempt by the international tribunal.

The ICC has opened its preliminary examination into the alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the brutal “war on drugs.”

In a statement sent to, Amnesty International Philippines said that a withdrawal from the Rome Statute would “only affect the temporal jurisdiction of the court.”

AI Philippines cited the Article 127 of the treaty, which said that the withdrawal shall take effect one year after the written notification of the withdrawal is received by the United Nations secretary-general.

“However, the Office of the Prosecutor would not be precluded from opening an investigation even if the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute and the Amnesty International believes that the Philippines would also remain under a continuing obligation to cooperate with the court even if it withdrew from the Rome Statute,” it said.

Duterte disputed this, insisting that the withdrawal should take effect immediately “for the reason that there appears to be fraud in entering such agreement.”

“The Philippines in ratifying the Rome Statute was made to believe that the principle of complementarity shall be observed, that the principle of due process and the presumption of innocence as mandated by our Constitution and the Rome Statute shall prevail, and that the legal requirement of publication to make the Rome Statute enforceable shall be observed,” he said.

READ: Duterte announces Philippines’ withdrawal from ICC

The Hague

Rights watchdog Human Rights Watch called the country’s intention to walk away from the ICC “unfortunate.”

But Param-Preet Singh, the associate director of the HRW International Justice Program, also said that withdrawing from the Rome Statute will not protect Duterte from being prosecuted for his regime’s alleged crimes.

“But it doesn’t shut the door on the prosecutor’s scrutiny of the government’s horrendous track record of grave abuses,” Singh said.

She added: “Those responsible for ICC crimes committed in the Philippines while the country is still a member could find themselves facing justice in The Hague.”

Duterte, in his statement, also said that the Rome Statute was not effective and enforceable in the Philippines because it was not published in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

The Palace initially said early February that Duterte welcomed the ICC initial examination.

READ: Duterte cites international bias against him in pulling out of ICC

Evasion from accountability

Local rights organization Karapatan said that Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which was adopted in 1998, stems from his “rabid refusal” to be subjected to any form of investigation or scrutiny.

“He and his cohorts are not being denied due process as his government did with so many urban poor dwellers, farmers and indigenous peoples killed under this regime’s campaigns yet he speaks as if he is the one who was victimized,” it said in a statement.

The group called Duterte a “coward who plays tough with words but flinches when confronted with concrete platforms for accountability.”

“This is a classic Duterte move to cheat his way out of culpability and responsibility for all the rights violations systematically committed by him and his state forces,” Karapatan said.




Myanmar Militarizes Former Rohingya Villages — Amnesty International

March 12, 2018



© Amnesty International / DigitalGlobe/AFP | Before and after photographs released by Amnesty International and DigitalGlobe taken on September 6, 2017 and February 5, 2018 of new structures and helipads being built over agricultural fields in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar is building security installations on top of razed Rohingya villages, Amnesty International said Monday, casting doubt on the country’s plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of refugees.Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents six months ago that the US and UN have called ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar rejects that accusation, saying it was responding to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in late August.

But critics accuse the military of using the insurgent attacks to launch disproportionate, scorched-earth “clearance operations” as a pretext to push out the loathed minority.

The new Amnesty report, “Remaking Rakhine State,” uses satellite imagery and interviews to point to a rapid increase in military infrastructure and other construction since the start of the year that researchers say amounts to a “land grab”.

“The new evidence and the rebuilding that Amnesty has documented in our latest research shows that the Myanmar authorities are building over the top of the very places the Rohingya need to return to,” Tirana Hassan, Amnesty’s crisis response director, told AFP ahead of the report’s release on Monday.

“In some instances there has been the destruction of existing homes.”

Though admitting the images only paint a partial picture, the rights group says structures for security forces, helipads and even roads have been built in and around torched Rohingya properties.

Satellite imagery of one village called Kan Kya on the outskirts of Rakhine’s Maungdaw town taken two months after the August attacks shows a settlement scarred by fire.

But by early March buildings could be seen on the revamped land. Amnesty believes they are part of a new base for security forces.

Similar building activity was also detected in Inn Din village, where Myanmar has admitted that its security forces took part in the killings of 10 Rohingya residents in September.

Rakhine state has been largely sealed off from rights groups, the media and UN investigators.

Myanmar and Bangladesh were supposed to start repatriating Rohingya refugees in late January but many are reluctant to return to a place without guarantees of basic rights and safety.

The report also highlights concerns that abandoned Rohingya land will be set aside for ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and other non-Muslim groups in the area, and that alterations to the landscape will erase evidence of alleged atrocities by the military.

Myanmar officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Myanmar has denied claims it is covering up evidence, saying it is improving the standard of living in one of the poorest states in the country.

Syrian Observatory: Turkish jets attack pro-government forces in Afrin

March 2, 2018


BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish warplanes attacked pro-Syrian government forces overnight, killing at least 17 people in a village in the north of the Afrin region in northwestern Syria, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

The dead included three members of the Syrian Kurdish YPG force, while the rest came from militias that support President Bashar al-Assad and entered Afrin last week to help repel a Turkish offensive, the Observatory said.

The Turkish military declined to comment on the Observatory report, but the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday that Turkish attack helicopters had killed nine YPG fighters in the west of Afrin.

Turkish military aircraft

Turkish military aircraft lands after its operation Olive Branch mission in Afrin, Syria. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Another Turkish news agency, Dogan, reported that Turkish and allied forces had started an operation on Friday morning to take control of the town of Rajo in Afrin.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebel groups began their operation against the YPG in Afrin in January, aiming to drive out the Kurdish militia, which Ankara sees as a terrorist group linked to an insurgency inside Turkey’s borders.

Despite making slow progress at first, the offensive has gained control over all Afrin’s border areas adjoining Turkey. Late on Thursday, the Turkish military said eight Turkish soldiers had been killed and 13 injured in clashes in Afrin.

Last month, after the YPG asked the Syrian government to send its army to repel the offensive, pro-Syrian government militias crossed into Afrin and deployed along the frontlines with Turkey.

However, the move did not deter the Turkish offensive and has not so far heralded any wider escalation involving the Syrian government and the forces that support it.

Reporting By Angus McDowall in Beirut, Daren Butler in Istanbul and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; Editing by Kevin Liffey


BBC News

Eight Turkish soldiers have been killed in fighting in the north Syrian region of Afrin, the military says.

Another 13 were injured in the clashes on Thursday, with several said to be in a critical condition.

It is one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began a major offensive against Kurdish fighters in Afrin in January.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council is due to debate the situation in Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta area.

More than 580 people have reportedly been killed in the rebel-held enclave near Damascus since the government and its allies intensified a bombardment on 18 February.

About 393,000 civilians trapped there also face severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

The debate in Geneva, expected later on Friday, was requested by the UK. A draft resolution, seen by Reuters news agency, strongly condemns the “denial of humanitarian access” and “repeated attacks against medical facilities”.

A map of Syria showing who controls the different areas

Turkey’s military announced its latest casualties in two statements on Thursday.

Five “heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded”, the first statement said. A second statement announced three more soldiers had been killed and six more wounded.

No official details of the clashes were given but the private Dogan news agency says Kurdish fighters used tunnels to ambush Turkish special forces in the Keltepe district.

A Turkish helicopter sent in to rescue the wounded was hit and had to turn back, the report adds.

Thousands of civilians in Afrin have fled their homes since Turkey’s offensive began.

The Turkish government says the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK.

Neither side has released much information about fatalities, making the death toll in Afrin difficult to gauge.

Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 141 civilians have died but Turkey denies this, saying only combatants are targeted.

Last month, Amnesty International said indiscriminate shelling had killed scores of civilians in Afrin.