TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

Don’t allow Amnesty International to testify

By Ibrahim Gwamna Mshelizza
Listen to article

The activities of Amnesty International in Nigeria have again come under attack as the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies began her public hearing in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, centre of the Boko Haram crisis where hundreds of thousands of civilians rights are believed to be violated by security forces.

This time, a group known as Save Humanity Advocacy CENTRE (SHAC), a Non Governmental Organization at the plenary of the panel in Maiduguri raised an objection calling on the panel not to allow Amnesty International to testify in the panel describing AI as a “perverted witness”.

“Amnesty International lacks credibility to testify on any issue in Nigeria consequent upon the confirmation of its bias against the country. Amnesty International has a history that precludes it from testifying before the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of The Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies”, SHAC submitted.

The document which was signed by Ibrahim Abubakar on behalf of the Executive Secretary of SHAC noted that AI which is supposed to be an NGO has unfortunately caused more problems for nations with their bias positions on human right issues.

SHAC explained that AI 's reports have been pivotal in many global decisions that have impacted the world, unfortunately, often times for the worse”, adding that, “ Amnesty International was found to unfairly and routinely target Nigerian authorities for condemnation in its reports, which blame government troops and law enforcement for rights violation in conflict situations without acknowledging the atrocities committed by terrorists. Until recently, in the wake of widespread criticism of its work, did AI bother to highlight the horrors being committed by Boko Haram; even this was couched in a way to indict the military”.

SHAC in the document also asked the panel to take the following measures against AI in the interst of the country. The measures were mentioned as:

1. “The panel should strike out Amnesty International as one of the organizations to make presentations before it on accounts that any testimony by the group would taint the panel’s work.

Any written submissions made by Amnesty International to this panel should be discountenanced forthwith

2. The panel should recommend the future participation of AI in the internal affairs of Nigeria with a proviso that an independent study be conducted to review the organization's continued presence in Nigeria.

3. The panel should recommend a special enlightenment programme to correct the wrong impressions that Amnesty International's flawed reports have made on the psyche of citizens.

Below is the full text of the document presented by Save Humanity Advocacy Centre dated 18/09/2017 and presented to the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies at a public hearing in Maiduguri.

18th September, 2017.
The Secretary, Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies,

C/o The Presidency,
Special Services Office, Office of The Secretary to the Government of The Federation,Central Area, FCT-Abuja.

Sir
PERVERTED WITNESS: WHY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANNOT TESTIFY ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION
Amnesty International, AI, ordinarily presents itself as a non-governmental organization that monitors human rights issues across the globe. The organization's reports have been pivotal in many global decisions that have impacted the world, unfortunately, often times for the worse.

To its credit, AI authored the series of reports that were used to justify the 1993 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent execution of its then leader, Saddam Hussein. Its report was used to justify the sack of Libya after it claimed to have documented cases of rights abuses against its then leader, Muammar Gadhafi.There has been an established pattern of the NGO handling the groundwork for destabilization of countries that remained in crisis till date.

In Nigeria, Amnesty International's work has been structured in such a way that it issues its report at about the same time that the military is on the threshold of winning decisive victory. This has been interpreted as being part of a strategy to intimidate troops with threat of trial for human rights abuse at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The group now seeks to continue plying its evil ware in Nigeria, specifically to testify before the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of The Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies. The possibility of Amnesty International testifying before such an all-important panel must be reviewed with the benefit of what is known about the NGO.

METHODOLOGY
For the purpose of this report, the researcher did literature review and content analysis of documents and media reports that detail AI's work. For spread, the report took AI's activities in other countries into consideration for the purpose of comparative analysis of its activities in Nigeria relative to other countries. The study also gauged the intensity of the organization’s activities in Nigeria.

FINDINGS
Amnesty International was found to unfairly and routinely target Nigerian authorities for condemnation in its reports, which blame government troops and law enforcement for rights violation in conflict situations without acknowledging the atrocities committed by terrorists.

Until recently, in the wake of widespread criticism of its work, did AI bother to highlight the horrors being committed by Boko Haram; even this was couched in a way to indict the military.

Hasty conclusions have exposed AI as having adopted preconceived positions prior to the issuance of its reports. These hasty reports are passed off as “interim reports” that often do not revisit the subject of the crisis even when it later has the benefit of facts to the contrary of what it had published.

Flawed information gathering is widespread, bothering on a standard procedure, for AI whose staff do not undertake on the ground assessment. They also do not conduct interview in person or face to face as they instead adopt telephone interviews without the resources to verify the identity of the interviewees.

Once it uses such interviewee, who have been proven to be trained actors in some instances, it goes the extra length to erase their existence which makes it impossible for such witnesses to be contacted for validation. This strategy was widely adopted in contriving the reports that destabilized Iraq and Syria.

Staffers of AI in Nigeria have been known for biases. They have other engagements which allows them to use AI as a tool for personal vendetta. In the instance when AI was exposed as an agent of destabilization, some of its staffers simply reverted to Transparency International to continue their nefarious acts.

Disparate treatment of subject nations based on how they align with AI’s overreaching interests is a red flag that requires that its testimony be treated as suspect. The reports from the NGO strongly reveals that there are at least two sets of rules for treating nations: one set for countries that AI treats as above reproach in their rights records while the other set of nations are adjudged guilty even before they ever do anything.

The funding structure of AI rules out its ability to operate above bias. The international military industrialists heavily invested in AI, which confirms that the organization is randomly and frequently mandated to precipitate crises in targeted countries to keep the arms companies going.

AI’s biased report against Nigeria followed by a petition to the then US President Barack Obama led to the blockade of arms sales to Nigeria. The premise for this harsh action was a friendly fire incident that any country involved in a war can experience. However, AI exploited this development to strengthen the position of Boko Haram terrorists.

Several Nigerian organizations had profoundly indicted AI in Nigeria. The development had angered a wide swath of the population to a point where widespread protests broke out asking the NGO to leave Nigeria. The vehemence with which it resisted being expelled from Nigeria raised suspicions about what its true intents are in the country.

Terrorists, like members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, count on the cover provided by AI as protection for when they attack law enforcement and military personnel in the expectation that the NGO will indict the security personnel if they take action to protect themselves. Subsequent reports issued by AI in instances like this have validated this trend as the organization has repeatedly indicted the state without acknowledging or censoring the provocation by the terrorists.

CONCLUSION
Amnesty International lacks credibility to testify on any issue in Nigeria consequent upon the confirmation of its bias against the country. Amnesty International has a history that precludes it from testifying before the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of The Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in Local Conflicts and Insurgencies.

RECOMMENDATION
The panel should strike out Amnesty International as one of the organizations to make presentations before it on accounts that any testimony by the group would taint the panel’s work.

Any written submissions made by Amnesty International to this panel should be discountenanced forthwith.

The panel should recommend the future participation of AI in the internal affairs of Nigeria with a proviso that an independent study be conducted to review the organization's continued presence in Nigeria.

The panel should recommend a special enlightenment programme to correct the wrong impressions that Amnesty International's flawed reports have made on the psyche of citizens.