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Jos Violence: Group Asks Jonathan To Surrender Perpetrators To ICC

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ABUJA, Dec 28, (THEWILL) - Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently ensure the arrest of the perpetrators of the incessant violence in Jos and immediately hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

In a public statement dated 28 December 2010, and signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, “We are faced yet again with the recurring violence in Jos, with devastating consequences, including deaths and injuries. SERAP urged the president to “show strong leadership in the face of increasing violence in Jos, and the killings of innocent citizens" adding that "as usual, the government has promised to bring perpetrators to justice but like similar promises made in the past, these promises will count for nothing. It is now time for this government to show that it is truly committed to putting an end to impunity for the crimes in Jos by immediately arresting and surrendering suspected perpetrators to the ICC.”

According to the group, “In the end, it all boils down to how far this government is willing to go for the fight against impunity in Jos, how badly it wishes to see crimes against humanity being committed there punished, and what the government is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the victims and their families. We hope that President Jonathan will meet this challenge head on, and exercise the required political will to make the arrest and transfer of perpetrators to the ICC happen,” the organization said. No fewer than 80 persons have been confirmed killed and 109 wounded in the bombing and reprisal attacks, which took place in Jos from Christmas Eve to date. Also, security agencies have reportedly discovered an area in Nasarawa Gwom where some persons were engaged in manufacturing of local bombs.

It further noted that “It is on record that successive governments have failed to implement the country’s international legal obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of the people of Jos by persistently failing to deter and prevent recurring outbreaks of violence, and by failing to effectively investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators. This in turn has fostered chronic impunity for perpetrators, and total defenselessness of victims and their relatives,”.

The organization said that, “The surest and most effective way to restore and maintain peace and security in Jos is for this government to allow and facilitate the investigation and analysis of Jos by the ICC by sharing with the court important information that will lead to the transfer of perpetrators to the court for trial. The government will need to act urgently to enhance cooperation with the ICC on Jos if it is to end persisting impunity for the perpetrators, and to prevent these crimes in the future.

“Under international law, Nigeria has an obligation not to act in such a way as to deprive the Rome Statute its object and purpose, or to undermine its spirit. Specifically, the Rome Statute requires the government to cooperate with the court in the detection, arrest, extradition, and prosecution of persons accused of crimes against humanity. Any failure to arrest and surrender perpetrators of Jos violence will amount to a fundamental breach of this obligation. Unless the government makes the leap to actually fulfil these obligations, the country will not remain true to its international commitments,” the organization added. It would be recalled that the ICC in November decided to investigate and analysis the situation in Jos with a view to prosecuting the relevant crimes. This followed a petition sent by SERAP’s Solicitor Mr Femi Falana to the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. In the letter with reference number OTP-CR-58/10, dated 5 November 2010, and signed on behalf of Mr Ocampo by M.P. Dillon, Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor, the ICC said that, “On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 01/02/2010, as well as any subsequent related information. The Office is analyzing the situation identified in your communication, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information. “Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice. Analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time.” Earlier in its petition SERAP asked Mr Ocampo to use his position “to investigate proprio motu allegations of unlawful killing of at least 326 people and perpetration of other crimes under international law during the violence in January 2010 in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria; and the reports that the military and police used excessive force against both Christians and Muslims in responding to the violence.”