April 03, 2008

Amnesty International Documents New Wave of Niger Army Atrocities on Tuareg Civilians

DOCUMENTED: Niger Army Atrocities on Tuareg Civilians

Amnesty International appeals to Government of Niger to IMMEDIATELY END THE NIGER ARMY'S ATROCITIES ON CIVILIANS

SUMMARY: Amnesty International Report documents the following, April 3, 2008:

1. Niger Army new wave of extrajudicial executions of Tuareg civilians in the Agadez region.

2. Niger Army executed at least 8 Tuareg civilians between March 22-25

3. Niger Army launched retaliation attacks on Tuareg civilians

4. Niger Army stole/looted personal property from Tuareg civilians, at Dabaga and Tamazalak

5. Niger Army burned Tuareg civilians' homes and camps, at Dabaga and Tamazalak

6. Niger Army used Tuareg civilians as a human shield against land mines; several civilians wounded as a result, on the Dabaga-El Meki road

7. Niger Army killed 77-year old farmer, Baregha Hada, at Dabaga, near Agadez

8. Niger Army arbitrarily arrested, tortured (mutilated and burned), and killed merchant, Aboubakar Attoulèle

9. Niger Army arbitrarily arrested, severely beat (with rifle butts), and shot 66-year old gardener, Mohamed El Moctar, at Tabouhait

10. Niger Army shot 3 other people, at least, including two on March 22, 2008 at Tamazalak

11. Niger Army abducted 4 people, including Al Wali, village head of Tourayat, March 30

12. REFUGEES: Residents of Dabaga and Tamazalak have fled to take refuge in Agadez. Other villagers have fled into the mountains to avoid roads where the military are carrying out arbitrary civilian arrests.

13. FREEDOM OF SPEECH THREATS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS: Elected officials at Dabaga threatened by soldiers, who accused them of having provided information relating to the atrocities that were committed by the Army.

14. Land mines - Amnesty calls for an end to land mines used by both the Niger Army and the MNJ

April 3, 2008

Niger: executions and forced disappearances following reprisals carried out by the Army

Amnesty International is very concerned about the new wave of extrajudicial executions committed by the Nigerien Army in the Agadez region, which has been shaken for more than a year by a rebellion led by an armed opposition group, the Movement of Nigerians for Justice (MNJ).

"We urgently appeal to the Nigerian authorities to immediately give orders to the security forces to put an end to extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances of civilians in the north. The government must open an investigation on these facts, bring those responsible to justice, and provide reparations to relatives of those victims," said Veronique Aubert, Deputy Director of the Africa Program on April 3, 2008.

At least eight civilians were arbitrarily executed between March 22-25, 2008 following clashes between the MNJ and the Nigerian army. In the context of these confrontations, several soldiers were killed and several army vehicles were destroyed by mines. Following these human and material losses, the army launched a retaliation attack against the civilian population, executing and arresting civilians, and seizing personal property from residents of the local community.

Amnesty International has learned that on one occasion, on March 26, 2008, on the Dabaga-El Meki road, soldiers forced civilians to drive in a vehicle in front of the military convoy, in order to protect the military against possible antipersonnel mines on the road. Despite this, the military vehicle was unable to avoid a mine and the vehicle was damaged. The driver and two passengers of the civilian vehicle, which was leading the convoy, were beaten by the soldiers, who accused them of having been trained to ambush them. The convoy got started again on the road and a little later, the civilian vehicle was blown up by a mine. The soldiers then took the wounded to a medical clinic.

Baregha Hada, a seventy-seven year old farmer, was returning from pasture with his donkeys on March 25, 2008, when he was extrajudicially killed by soldiers in the town of Dabaga (Agadez region).

Another civilian was tortured before being killed. A merchant, Aboubakar Attoulèle, called Kouzaba, was arrested by soldiers on March 26, 2008. According to information received by Amnesty International, this man had his ears cut off, and his head and hair burned, before being stabbed.

Another civilian was severely beaten before being shot. Mohamed El Moctar, a sixty-six year old gardener, was arrested in his camp located at Tabouhait, on March 24. The soldiers beat him with their rifle butts before slaughtering him. Three other people, at least, were killed by bullets, including two on March 22, 2008 in the village of Tamazalak.

"If the security forces have the legitimate right to respond in a manner proportionate to armed attacks, they can not blindly attack defenceless people," says Veronique Aubert, Deputy Director of Program Africa, on April 3, 2008.

In addition, these extrajudicial executions are a violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that: "The right to life is inherent in the human person. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." There is no exception to this right under any circumstances even in a state of emergency, which is currently in force in the region of Agadez.

Amnesty International has also been informed of several cases of forced disappearances and arrests. Four people including Al Wali, village head of Tourayat, were abducted on March 30 by the military and, in spite of their searches, their families have been unable to obtain any news of their relatives who "disappeared" since then.

The Niger Army soldiers had also stolen personal property from the villagers, and then burned their homes and camps, notably at Dabaga and Tamazalak. Residents of both villages have fled to take refuge in Agadez. Other villagers have fled into the mountains to avoid roads where the military are carrying out civilian arrests.

Amnesty International has also learned that elected officials in the region of Dabaga were threatened by the soldiers, who accused them of having provided information relating to the atrocities that were committed by the army.

The organization is also concerned about the use of land mines in the context of this conflict between the Nigerien security forces and armed elements of MNJ since February 2007. Each of these two parties blames the other for the responsibility of the land mines, which have already claimed many civilian and military victims. Amnesty International calls on both sides to put an immediate end to the use of land mines which constitute a danger to all the people moving about, including civilians, who are at risk of losing their lives or limbs if they walk over the mines.

Original article is in French.

TCN translation to English.


APO - African Press Organization - APPABLOG (original article in French)
April 3, 2008