FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 14, 2014
[NEW YORK, NY] – On the night of April 14th, 2014, 276 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The abduction ignited worldwide outrage, sparked a vigorous social media campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, and drew condemnation from political leaders around the world.
However, today, on the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping, the majority of the schoolgirls are still missing.
"The young Chibok school girls have been living lives of daily terror and torture, including rape, forced conversion to Islam, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and sexual slavery, for 365 days and there has been no internationally motivated effort to rescue them,” says GJC President, Janet Benshoof, “this demonstrates the enormous gulf between the global concern for women and the political will to do anything about it.”
Not only have the girls not been found, but there has been no accountability for the heinous crimes committed against them, which is why, today, the Global Justice Center (GJC) is urging the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, to investigate whether Boko Haram, who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is perpetrating genocide against the Christian community in Nigeria. The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, among others, in Nigeria is exactly the act of genocide, as defined in the Genocide Convention, called the “forcible transfer of children.” The essence of genocide is not mass killing but the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Removing children from a group destroys its future, and has been a tool of genocide for as long as the legal concept has existed.
If Prosecutor Bensouda examines Boko Haram’s gender-based abductions as genocide it would put all countries unequivocally on notice that genocide is occurring in Nigeria, propelling them to action. All states and the international community have the duty to prevent and halt genocide. It would also send a powerful message to other perpetrators, including terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria who are increasingly using the kidnapping of young girls and women as a tool in their campaign of terror, that genocide will not be tolerated.
This year marks not only the one year anniversary of our failure to rescue the Chibok girls, but also the 100 year anniversary of one of the largest campaigns of child transfer in history: the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, tens of thousands of Armenian women and children were forcibly removed from their families, then “Islamized” through placement with Muslim families, in Muslim orphanages, or forced marriages to Muslim men.
The ICC has admirably taken historic steps to put justice for women and girls at the forefront of its agenda. And in this case, there is a way to ensure justice for (and rescue of) the abducted girls of Nigeria as well as to establish a precedent of intolerance for crimes of this nature. The GJC calls on the ICC to demonstrate its will to do so.
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