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Human Rights Council opens Special Session in light of terrorist attacks and human rights abuses by Boko Haram

MORNING

1 April 2015

Speakers Pay Tribute to Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari of Somalia, Killed in a Terrorist Attack in Mogadishu

The Human Rights Council today opened its twenty-third Special Session in light of terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The Special Session was convened at the request of the African Group and called for by 21 Members States of the Council and eight Observer States, said Ambassador Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council held a minute of silence in honour of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, Permanent Representative of Somalia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, who was a victim of a deadly terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia on Friday, 27 March.

In his opening statement, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, took a moment to honour Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, a strong defender of human rights who had cared deeply about violence against women and the protection of people with albinism.

High Commissioner Zeid said that the appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram insurgency had created a critical human rights situation in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Since 2009, at least 15,000 individuals had been killed, women and girls had been subjected to horrific abuse, including sexual enslavement and abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls; more than a million people had been displaced in Nigeria, and at least 168,000 had fled to neighbouring countries. The authorities and international community should step up their efforts to respond adequately to the needs of victims, while the responses to massive violations of human rights had to be strong, coordinated and principled, and must uphold the values of democracy and human rights. The High Commissioner called for thorough and transparent investigations into credible reports of serious human rights violations by the security forces of Nigeria and other countries in their responses to Boko Haram.

Mireille Fanon Mendes France, Member of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, in a keynote address, extended sincere condolences to the people of Somalia for the loss of Ambassador Bari-Bari and all other victims of terrorist attacks.

The Coordination Committee expressed deepest concern at the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by continuing violence and appalling atrocities of Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, and expressed support for efforts by States to combat terrorist acts. All measures taken should be conducted in full conformity with international law, because the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms was not incompatible with security. The Coordination Committee reminded delegations of certain absolute and non-derrogable rights, including the right to life, freedom from torture, and the principle of legal certainty and non-retroactivity in the application of the criminal law. The Special Procedures were ready to continue assisting States, which should use their advice and expertise in designing appropriate responses to the challenges posed by Boko Haram.

In a keynote statement, Pierre Buyoya, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, expressed sadness due to the loss of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, and conveyed condolences to his family and the people of Somalia.

Mr. Buyoya said the terrorist threat in Africa had augmented during the previous decade and variants of transnational organized crime had become closely linked with the activities and funding of terrorist groups. The principal terrorist groups operating in Africa today were Al-Qaeda in northern Africa, Boko Haram and Ansaru in western and northern Africa, Al-Shabab in eastern Africa, and the Lord’s Resistance Army in eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region in central Africa. Recently, a group called Ansar Al-Charia appeared in some countries of northern Africa. In order to coordinate their efforts to combat Boko Haram, the countries of the Lake Chad Basin had decided to form a combined multinational force, said Mr. Buyoya, stressing the crucial importance of financial, technical and logistical aid of the United Nations.

Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria spoke as concerned countries.

Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, said that it was abundantly clear that Boko Haram had committed massive human rights violations in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. Despite those horrible crimes, Cameroon was firmly committed to respecting international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The only incident had occurred recently, whereby 75 Boko Haram militants had been killed in one of the prisons; this incident was being investigated and those responsible would be prosecuted.

Mahamat Issa Halikimi, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Chad, noted that Boko Haram had become a relentless enemy that aimed to destabilize the countries of western and central Africa. It prospered on the fertile ground of poverty and inaction of local authorities, and it was becoming more organized and professional. African countries had to strengthen their voice in the global fight against terrorism, and this required better coordination among African Governments. Chad remained convinced that the involvement of civil society could improve the security of States.

Danjuma Nanpon Sheni, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, said that the high level of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment had contributed to the rise of Boko Haram, and underlined that this threat could not be addressed by a single country, but by a coordinated effort of affected countries. Support was also needed to address the plight of 1.5 million internally displaced persons and 650,000 refugees. The international community should be concerned about the networks that Boko Haram had created with other international armed groups, such as with Al-Shabab and the Islamic State.

Speakers in the discussion strongly condemned the continued atrocities committed by Boko Haram which had led to extreme human suffering, including targeted killings and attacks on civilians, abductions, and sexual and gender-based violence. The transnational and evolving character of Boko Haram posed a threat to regional peace and security, speakers said and welcomed the establishment of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the regional efforts from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon to contain and fight back the attacks by Boko Haram on civilians. Military operations alone were not sufficient to affectively address the problem or defeat Boko Haram; it was critical to address the root causes of this terrorism, remove sources of funding of this militant group, and bring to justice anyone who sought to support their terrorist activities. Counter-terrorism measures and activities must respect the provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, while the Governments of affected countries should ensure that all alleged crimes were investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

Speaking in the discussion were Latvia on behalf of the European Union, Denmark in a Nordic statement, Morocco on behalf of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Ethiopia on behalf of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Tunisia on behalf of the Arab Group, Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern African Sub-region, Netherlands, United States, Estonia, Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Argentina, Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, China, Republic of Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council held a minute of silence in honour of Ambassador Bari-Bari, who lost his life in a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Friday, 27 March.

Delegations expressed shock and deep sadness at the death of Ambassador Bari-Bari in a cowardly terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, and praised the late Ambassador for his passion for many human rights issues, and his commitment to the protection of human rights and the rebuilding of Somalia. This attack was a reminder of the role of the Human Rights Council in the fight against terrorism.

Taking the floor to pay tribute to Ambassador Bari-Bari were the United States, the European Union, Guatemala on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, Algeria on behalf of the African Group, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia.

The Council will resume the discussion at 2 p.m. today, 1 April, before taking action on a draft resolution on terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Tribute to Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, asked that a minute of silence be observed due to the assassination of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, Permanent Representative of Somalia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

United States expressed shock and sadness at the murder of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari by Al-Shabab terrorists. He had played an important role on numerous issues at the Council, and was praised for his commitment to the protection of human rights.

European Union joined colleagues in expressing deepest condolences to the family of Ambassador Bari-Bari and the people of Somalia. He had been an exemplary friend and colleague. His commitment to the protection of human rights and the rebuilding of Somalia had been unwavering.

Guatemala, speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, condemned any form of terrorism and the terrorist attack in Mogadishu on 27 March 2015 which killed Ambassador Bari-Bari, and expressed condolences to his family and the people of Somalia. Ambassador Bari-Bari’s links with Latin America and the Caribbean had been close and Guatemala supported Somalia in these moments of grief.

Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that all knew Ambassador Bari-Bari as a kind and very professional person and a real human rights defender. The African Group had lost a great friend and someone who had greatly contributed to how the Group operated. The African Group expressed condolences to Somalia and to the Ambassador’s family and friends.

Sierra Leone said that the taking of the life of Ambassador Bari-Bari by a terrorist group was a reminder of the role of the Human Rights Council in the fight against terrorism. The Ambassador had been passionate about many human rights issues, including the rights of people with albinism.

Ethiopia expressed deep sadness at the killing of a dear friend in a cowardly terrorist attack carried out by Al-Shabaab. The Ambassador had been a man of conviction, principle and commitment to human rights and his country, Somalia.

Opening of the Twenty-Third Special Session of the Council

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, opened the twenty-third Special Session of the Human Rights Council, “In light of terrorist attacks and human rights abuses and violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram”, by saying that the request for the Special Session had been received on 26 March. The request was supported by the following States Members of the Council: Algeria, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Venezuela. The request was also supported by the following observer States: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

Opening Statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, took a moment to honour Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, noting that he had been a strong defender of human rights, who had cared deeply about violence against women and the protection of people with albinism.

The appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram insurgency had created a critical human rights situation in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Since 2009 when the Boko Haram group began massive violence, at least 15,000 individuals had been killed. Women and girls had been particularly targeted and subjected to horrific abuse, including sexual enslavement. Villages and towns had been looted and destroyed. Boko Haram had a specific animus against schools and had destroyed at least 300 schools, killed numerous students and abducted hundreds of schoolgirls. More than a million people were displaced in Nigeria, and at least 168,000 had fled to neighbouring countries. It was thus essential that the authorities and the international community step up their efforts to respond adequately to the needs of victims. Since the farms of northern Nigeria provided produce across the Sahel, the actions of Boko Haram had given rise to a sharp increase in prices of basic foods across the region.

What was initially a localized crisis was fast growing to very disturbing regional dimensions. In Nigeria, Boko Haram had been operating across broad swathes of territory in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. The current dry season had also intensified its incursions into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, spreading bloodshed and desolation even more widely. In recent weeks, military offensives by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger had led to the recapture of several towns in northeast Nigeria. This had brought to light gruesome scenes of mass graves and further evident signs of slaughter by Boko Haram. The High Commissioner’s Office had also received multiple reports that Boko Haram fighters who were retreating from the advance of the joint forces murdered their so-called “wives” – in fact, women and girls held in slavery – and other captives as Government troops advanced.

High Commissioner Zeid said responses to massive violations of human rights had to be strong, coordinated and principled. It was vital that strategies to combat violent extremism upheld the values of democracy and human rights. Strategies that were not fully grounded in human rights norms would feed the grievances that often motivated extremist movements. Also, thorough and clear-sighted consideration of the possible root causes of conflict should be carried out, as deep-seated discrimination and sharp inequalities often underlined internal armed conflicts. It was noted that the perpetration of human rights violations was not limited only to Boko Haram. There were also persistent and credible reports of serious violations by the security forces of Nigeria and other countries in their response to Boko Haram activities. Those alleged violations by security forces had to be subject to thorough and fully transparent investigations by the relevant authorities. The growing ethnic and sectarian dimensions of the conflict were also worrying. Christian communities were targeted, but the majority of the victims of Boko Haram were Muslims. As Boko Haram’s original leader was from the Kanuri ethnic group, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had received reports that Kanuris were now considered suspect by some military personnel, resulting in arbitrary arrests and abuse. Accordingly, there was a high risk of escalating ethnic and religious violence, which could only be stopped by principled leadership and clear instructions to military personnel, with appropriate accountability.

The High Commissioner urged that wide-ranging and action-oriented dialogue regarding the right to development of the people of the region be held, including greater participation in decision making, improved services and broader economic, social and political opportunities.

Keynote Statements

MIREILLE FANON MENDES FRANCE, Member of the Coordination Committee of Special Procedures, extended sincere condolences to the people of Somalia for the loss of Ambassador Bari-Bari and all other victims of terrorist attack.

The Coordination Committee of Special Procedures expressed deepest concern at the human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by continuing violence and appalling atrocities of Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. It was extremely alarmed at the extent and nature of human rights abuses and the heavy price paid by civilians, and found the use of children as human shield particularly appalling. The Coordination Committee expressed support for efforts by States to combat terrorist acts and stressed that all measures taken should be conducted in full conformity with international law. When countering terrorism, the first duty of any State was to protect the lives of its citizens and all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction. The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms was not incompatible with security and this had been the spirit of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted in 2006.

Certain rights were absolute and could not be derogated under any circumstances, including the right to life, freedom from torture, freedom from slavery or servitude, the principle of legal certainty and non-retroactivity in the application of the criminal law, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the freedom from return to a country where there was a risk of torture. Other non-derrogable rights were defined by the customary international law also considered. Yet, counter-terrorism measures often posed serious challenges to economic, social and cultural rights, which was particularly important as the promotion of those rights should be seen as a means of addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and hence of preventing acts of terrorism. Counter-terrorism policies or measures should also address the root causes and conditions that were conducive to the emergence and spread of terrorism, including poverty, marginalization, political oppression, and polarization of ethnic and religious characteristics. The Special Procedures were ready to continue assisting States and strongly encouraged them to make use of Special Procedures’ advice and expertise in designing appropriate responses to the challenges posed by Boko Haram.

PIERRE BUYOYA, High Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel, expressed sadness due to the loss of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari, and conveyed condolences to his family and the people of Somalia.

The terrorist threat in Africa had augmented during the previous decade. Several variants of transnational organized crime had become closely linked with the activities and sources of funding of terrorist groups. Those were trafficking of drugs and arms, maritime piracy, ransoming of hostages, unlawful proliferation of arms, and money laundering. According to the latest report of the President of the African Union Commission, terrorist menace in Africa took on several forms, such as terrorist attacks against African interests, attacks against Western interests in Africa, the use of African territories as sanctuary or source of recruitment, and the use of Africa as a transit zone for terrorists and collection of funds for unlawful activities. The principal terrorist groups operating in Africa today were Al-Qaida in northern Africa, Boko Haram and Ansaru in western and northern Africa, Al-Shabab in eastern Africa, and the Lord’s Resistance Army in eastern Africa and the Great Lakes region in central Africa. Recently, a group called Ansar Al-Charia had appeared in some countries of northern Africa. In Somalia, Al-Shabab continued to attack civilian populations and the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia. Al-Shabab was financed through different activities, such as illegal trade of coal, a complex system of taxes, and maritime piracy.

The political and security situation in Libya was also of serious concern, due to intense conflicts among armed military groups and parallel Government systems in Tobrouk and Tripoli. However, the most concerning was the apparent presence of the Islamic State in Libya. As for Boko Haram, it was necessary to analyse the context that gave rise to it. Several theories of its origin existed. According to some theories, it was a manifestation of difficult economic conditions in the region, whereas according to some other theories, it was a result of extreme criminality, combined with political instrumentalization. Since 2014, Boko Haram has expanded its activities beyond Nigeria’s borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad. There was no doubt that Boko Haram had committed grave human rights violations. In its efforts to combat terrorism, the African Union was guided by a normative and institutional framework adopted in the past two decades. In order to coordinate their efforts to combat Boko Haram, in late 2014 and early 2015 the countries of the Commission of the Lake Chad Basin had decided to form a combined multinational force. Financial, technical and logistical aid of the United Nations for the combined multinational force would be of crucial importance. The current session of the Human Rights Council should send a clear message that the odious acts of Boko Haram would not go unpunished. Member States were encouraged to adopt the proposed resolution.

Statements by Concerned Countries

PIERRE MOUKOKO MBONJO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, thanked the President of the Council and the African Group for convening this Special Session and expressed condolences to Somalia for the loss of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari. It was abundantly clear that Boko Haram had committed massive human rights violations in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. Cameroon had been attacked for the past 11 months; at first it was a collateral target and now it was a principal target. This transformation came about because Boko Haram was searching for a safe haven and food, and because of their intention to build a caliphate which would encompass a part of the national territory. The military stood firmly alone against the attacks of Boko Haram for about eight months, and had been successful in defending the national territory. The national army was a professional army which insisted on always respecting the law and human dignity. Currently, about 1,000 Boko Haram combatants were held in prisons in Cameroon, at great expense of the State, and they were treated humanely. Despite the horrible crimes committed by Boko Haram, Cameroon was firmly committed to respecting international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The only incident in the past months had occurred recently, whereby 75 Boko Haram militants had been killed in one of the prisons; this incident was being investigated and those responsible would be prosecuted. Cameroon did not have a bilateral agreement with Nigeria and could not cross the border in the context of anti-terrorist operations. There should be no confusion, stressed the Minister: Cameroon, which was being attacked, and this terrible terrorist group could not be put on the same level.

MAHAMAT ISSA HALIKIMI, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Chad, conveyed condolences to the family of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari and to the people of Somalia. He thanked the Council for holding a Special Session on Boko Haram, noting that terrorist attacks on civilian populations and hostage taking had demonstrated how vulnerable the region was. Boko Haram had become a relentless enemy that aimed to destabilize the countries of western and central Africa. It prospered on the fertile ground of poverty and inaction of local authorities, and it was becoming more organized and professional. The crisis went hand in hand with widespread human rights violations. The affected countries faced constant shortage of commodities and rise of food prices, due to the reduced volume of agricultural production. Because of Boko Haram’s atrocities, thousands of villagers in the Lake Chad region had fled. Thousands of refugees had ended up on Chadian soil in the past several months, and the Government was not ready for that situation. The Government was focusing on providing direct food assistance, improving the protection of human rights, fighting against gender based violence, and strengthening public administration structures. African countries had to strengthen their voice in the global fight against terrorism. To achieve that, better coordination among African Governments was needed. The Government of Chad remained convinced that through the involvement of civil society, States could improve their security.

DANJUMA NANPON SHENI, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Nigeria
, joined the Council in expressing heartfelt condolences to the Government of Somalia and to the family of late Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari. His death should be regarded as a catalyst to fight and defeat terrorism. The African Group was praised for its efforts to convene the Special Session of the Council. The Boko Haram insurgency had dominated discussions at various international fora, due to the grave human rights violations and vicious crimes that it had committed. High levels of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment had contributed to the rise of Boko Haram. The Boko Haram threat could not be addressed by a single country, but by a coordinated effort of affected countries. The number of internally displaced persons was estimated at 1.5 million, while another 650,000 were refugees. Support was needed to address the plight of those people. Nigeria had already set aside funds to renovate destroyed homes. The growing number of cross-border attacks by Boko Haram highlighted the need for regional and global action. The international community should be concerned about the networks that Boko Haram had created with other international armed groups, such as with Al-Shabab and the Islamic State. The decision of the Nigerian Government and of the neighbouring countries to deploy troops to fight Boko Haram was a legitimate one, and any unlawful conduct of the deployed troops was being promptly dealt with. All ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria were committed to the fight against Boko Haram. The Government placed great importance on the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism and had thus invited representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit the country.

Discussion

Latvia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, condemned in the strongest terms the widespread abuses and violations by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. Those increasingly violent and indiscriminate attacks had targeted civilians and caused displacement of half a million persons within Nigeria, while hundreds of thousands had fled across the border. The European Union was horrified to learn about another possible abduction of 400 women and children in Damasak and reiterated its support to Nigeria and all States in the region in addressing the challenges posed by Boko Haram.

Denmark, speaking in a Nordic statement on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, condemned in the strongest terms the continued atrocities committed by Boko Haram, including targeted killings and attacks on civilians, abductions, and sexual and gender-based violence. The Nordic countries welcomed efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and refugees, and awaiting the operationalization of the Multinational Joint Task Force, welcomed the regional efforts from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon to contain and fight back the attacks by Boko Haram on civilians.

Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, expressed condolences to the country and family of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari and said that the threat of terrorism by Boko Haram called for strong and coordinated action by the international community. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie welcomed the recent decision by heads of African States to establish a Multinational Joint Task Force and welcomed the adoption by central African States of a regional strategy to combat Boko Haram.

Algeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it was necessary to build regional and international partnerships capable of facing terrorist threats which were complex, transnational and evolving. To that end it was necessary to reinforce the security capacities of the threatened countries, improve information sharing, restrict the regional movement of terrorists, identify their safe havens, tap into their sources of funding, and fight against impunity.

Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, welcomed the convening of the Special Session of the Council and condemned the terrorist attack on 27 March 2015 which killed Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari. Great concern was expressed about the growing attacks carried out by Boko Haram, which had resulted in the killing of innocent civilians and the destruction of public and private property. Criminal activities, such as abduction, sexual and gender-based violence, targeting of religious and ethnic groups, recruitment of children, and promotion of hate speech and propaganda by Boko Haram were condemned.

Tunisia, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, reiterated its unshaken commitment to fight terrorism. In light of the criminal acts perpetrated against innocent civilians, and in the face of the real threat posed by Boko Haram, the Arab Group welcomed the Special Session of the Council and condemned the crimes and human rights violations committed by Boko Haram. The dangers posed by terrorist groups should be addressed through strengthened regional and international coordination. A multifaceted approach was necessary to fight terrorism, including investment in human development and sustainable economic development. Funding for those groups had to be cut off.

Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Sub-region, strongly and unreservedly condemned the widespread and systematic violations and abuses of human rights by Boko Haram and remained disturbed by the dire humanitarian situation and displacement of victims. The transnational character of Boko Haram posed a threat to regional peace and security and defeating this group was of paramount importance. This required combined national and regional efforts robustly supported by the international community at large.

Netherlands condemned in the strongest possible terms the continued violence and abuses against civilians, which had led to extreme human suffering, and expressed concern about the humanitarian situation of internally displaced persons and refugees. The Boko Haram activities were a threat to peace and stability in the region and the Netherlands welcomed the increased cooperation between Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin to face this threat and underlined that the fight against terrorism should be fully in line with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

United States joined in condemning the shocking atrocities by Boko Haram which showed total disregard for the sanctity of human life. Its inhumanity would unite the world community and the United States was ready to continue to support the people and Governments of this region in the face of this threat. Lasting stability and real security required the protection of human rights, including independent judiciaries that upheld the rule of law, and police and security forces that respected human rights.

Estonia expressed concern about the human rights situation in Nigeria, in particular about the appalling abuses committed by Boko Haram. It stressed the importance of an urgent and comprehensive response to the insurgency and to combat terrorist and criminal acts perpetrated by Boko Haram. It welcomed and supported the decisions of the States of the region to deploy a multinational task force. All persons responsible for severe human rights violations had to be held accountable and there could be no impunity for such acts.

Morocco recognized the urgency for collective action in order to support the countries affected by Boko Haram. Morocco had for years drew the attention of the international community to the security risks of the proliferation of non-state actors in the Sahel and Saharan region of western Africa. The assassination of Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari had demonstrated that terrorism could hit anywhere and anytime. It was noted that the security and military approach to the problem of terrorism should not eclipse due attention to its underlying causes.

Côte d’Ivoire welcomed the Special Session of the Council and noted that massive human rights abuses of all kinds had reached such a scale that it was essential for the international community to respond appropriately. It was high time to stop Boko Haram. As a country where several religious groups co-existed, Côte d’Ivoire remained convinced that Boko Haram did not represent any religion or belief. The Human Rights Council should play a key role in the fight against the proliferation of terrorist groups.

Sierra Leone said that for the past six years, the extremist religious group Boko Haram had carried out violent attacks and waged terror on the villages in northern Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. Military operations alone were not sufficient to effectively address the problem or defeat Boko Haram. Sierra Leone stressed the critical need to address the root causes of this brand of ideologist terrorism and to uncover and stifle the sources of funding of this militant group and bring to justice anyone who sought to support their activities.

Argentina condemned all terrorist acts and practices, and reaffirmed the need to continue to strengthen United Nations mechanisms to fight effectively against this serious threat. Argentina called upon all to cease financing terrorism and called on the international community to support the countries in the region to address root causes of terrorism. The fight against terrorism would be successful if it ensured larger participation of society, and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Russia was seriously concerned about the fate of Christians in the region and commended the African Group for developing a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism in Africa. It was not to be forgotten that unscrupulous foreign interventions gave rise to terrorism in the continent, as were the attempts to replace regimes in the Middle East with the help of militias. The international community should assist States in the region to combat terrorism in accordance with international law.

Germany condemned the actions by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the strongest possible terms. The instruments provided by the Human Rights Council had to form part of the international community’s response. The Special Session had to give rise to an analysis of all violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law in Nigeria and the region. That could be credible only if all violations and abuses were investigated. It was thus of utmost importance that true and full accountability was brought about.

United Kingdom expressed grave concern about the ongoing terrorist attacks by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries. More than 4,000 people were killed and at least 900 abducted last year. Around 1.5 million people were displaced and at least 3 million were adversely affected by the insurgency. It was essential that the international community continued to support Nigeria and its neighbours. It was also essential that efforts to tackle Boko Haram were fully compliant with international human rights law.

United Arab Emirates noted that the Special Session was being held in the alarming context of terrorist acts and human rights violations perpetrated by Boko Haram. The terrorists considered that women and girls had no right to learn, which led to attacks on schools. Those terrible acts were abject and unprecedented. Terrorism was an ongoing threat not only in Africa, but throughout the world. The international community should join forces and support the multinational task force of the African Union.

Montenegro condemned all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by Boko Haram, and expressed deep concern about the dire situation in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, particularly the deteriorating humanitarian situation in northern Nigeria. International humanitarian efforts should be appropriately coordinated by the United Nations. Boko Haram posed a growing threat to peace and stability in the region and an urgent and comprehensive response to prevent further activities of Boko Haram was needed.

China expressed condolences for the unfortunate death of Ambassador Bair-Bari of Somalia and added that terrorism was universal scourge, with the growing activity of extremist terrorist groups. The international community should, with respect for national sovereignty, support regional efforts to combat terrorism and support the concerned States to address the root causes of terrorism. China was ready to continue to vigorously support African countries in their counter-terrorism efforts.

Republic of Korea strongly denounced the inhumane crimes, and all forms and manifestations of terrorism, and said that the gravity of human rights abuses by Boko Haram underlined the threat that this group posed to fundamental human rights. The Governments of affected countries should ensure that all alleged crimes were investigated and perpetrators brought to justice, while the international community should support those countries in their efforts to address the threat of terrorism and provide humanitarian support to the affected.

Saudi Arabia said that acts of Boko Haram had exceeded all limits and its malice had impacted the whole African continent. It was unfortunate that this group was hiding behind the pure principles of Islam, and this had led to hatred and manifestations of anti-Islamism worldwide. Saudi Arabia was fully ready to promote and protect human rights, as witnessed by the establishment of the Centre to Fight Terrorism, to which it had contributed $ 10 million.

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For use of the information media; not an official record