Amnesty warns of a ‘lost Nigerian generation’

Rights group Amnesty International is warning that Nigeria must address more than 10 years of neglect of an entire generation of children in the country’s north-east.

The area has been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

In a 91-page report, the global watchdog said children living in Boko Haram-controlled areas were subjected to torture, floggings and sexual abuse.

While mostly accusing the Islamist militant group of atrocities, it also criticised the army.

It said the security forces held “children in conditions amounting to torture in military detention”.

Amnesty International highlighted a flawed reintegration programme for alleged former fighters known as Safe Corridor.

It receives funding from the European Union and other international donors.

Amnesty says that those in the programme have no access to legal representation, and are often held for extended periods.

The Nigeria military is yet to respond to allegations of torture and unlawful detention of children, in the report.

The UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, says that between September 2017 and May 2019, it reported the release of more than 1,700 children after being cleared of links with jihadists.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International is calling on the Tunisian authorities to halt the prosecution of blogger Emna Chergui, whose trial is set to begin on Thursday.

The 27-year-old blogger is being prosecuted for sharing a satirical post about coronavirus on her social media account that looks like a verse from Islam’s holy book, the Koran.

If convicted, Ms Chergui could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Imitating a Koranic text is considered a violation of something that is deemed to be sacred.

The image, which was reportedly designed and originally shared by an Algerian atheist who lives in France, contains text that says the virus came from China and tells people to wash their hands.

In a statement, Amnesty’s North Africa director Amna Guellali said the right to freedom of expression extended to what “some might consider shocking or offensive”.

She called on the Tunisian government to amend the law “so they are compliant with human rights”.

In early May, when the post was first shared during the fasting month of Ramadan and while the country was still largely under lockdown, it caused a stir online.

The head of one political party condemned it without naming her, saying the state had a duty to protect what was sacred in the same way it did to prohibit apostasy and incitement to hatred – but he called for a punishment other than imprisonment.

-BBC

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